Target's latest foray into bridal gowns with its newly expanded Tevolio line builds upon its reputation as a mass merchandiser with an emphasis on style that it's cultivated through a series of collaborations with top designers, such as Jason Wu and Missoni. Its last tip-toe into the wedding dress market during the late aughts was a collection that sprang out of Target's collaboration with Isaac Mizrahi.
"We decided to re-enter the market with Tevolio on Target.com to continue positioning Target as the destination for on-trend style and design our guests want and expect," said Evan Miller, a company spokesperson. "Now brides who want a no-fuss, affordable approach to their big day can simply log-on and shop Target.com."
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Tevolio, which was inspired by the Italian phrase for "I love you," also features bridesmaid dresses, flower-girl dresses and links to tuxedos and other accessories for the big day. By expanding this line, Target wants to become a one-stop shop for couples, who have been able to use the company's wedding registry for years.
Many brides, looking for either a less expensive or more casual dress or both, have begun turning to retailers where they already shop for dresses that fit their budgets and styles.
"It can be a good way to save if the bride is not a dress person and wants to splurge on another aspect of the wedding," Ma said.
Since many of these stores, including Target, only sell wedding gowns online, the collections offer the busy bride-to-be a chance to shop on her own time without the hassle of scheduling an appointment.
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They also offer retailers an opportunity to secure a small slice of the massive wedding industry. In 2012, the wedding dress market grew to a $2.23 billion business, up sharply from the $1.86 billion level during 2008, according to data from The Wedding Report. The average estimated price that brides will pay this year for a wedding gown is $1,228, or the equivalent of about 17 of Target's entry-level dresses.
"It's recession resistant as brides will still spend money for their wedding no matter what the state of the economy is like," Ma said.
Big brands are eyeing this space as an attractive one to enter, said The Wedding Report's founder Shane McMurray. While most of the industry's dollars come from brides who spend more than a grand on their gowns, 44 percent will spend $500 or less, which means these value-priced dresses already have a built-in potential market.
"Anything that is unique and at a reasonable price will have appeal, not sure yet on Target," McMurray said. "…It's possible they may take some of this lower market."