In the midst of a pandemic, finding a private place to come and try on customizable and affordable wedding dresses is mission impossible. Yet that is what Manon Martin, creator of the wedding gown brand Les Aimants, offers today. The young French woman has just opened a showroom in the heart of the bobo Greenpoint neighborhood, where she can show her creations and revolutionize the experience of buying a wedding dress for her clients and their friends, a glass of champagne in hand. “I wanted to create a ‘bridal lab,’ a place where brides could have fun creating a unique dress that suits them through a customizable collection.”
Manon Martin is originally a technical designer, who has worked in retail, including Rebecca Taylor and 5a7 in New York. “I was coordinating between the brands and the factories in China and India, but I realized that there was an overdevelopment of clothing, we were making 120 prototypes for 40 bought in the end.” Fortunately, a software program – whose name remains confidential – is coming on the market, which will allow designers to create an avatar and adapt a pattern to the size of each person, avoiding the numerous trips back and forth to the production factories. This software is already being used by major retail brands such as Gap and Lululemon.
It was in 2016, when Manon accompanied a friend in the purchase of her wedding dress, that the click occurred. “The experience of my friends in their search for dresses, rushing 7 to 8 months before the date to find a dress in time, and the lack of customization for such an expensive product, etc…. I felt that this problem had to be remedied.” So she decided to use the software to offer tailor-made wedding dresses to bridal dress stores, a first in the industry, and developed a business plan. Her brand Les Aimants, which combines the verb to love and the idea of magnetism, was born. The first collection of 36 pieces, a “mix and match” of tops and skirts that each bride can combine as she pleases, was launched in September 2019. It made it possible to receive a dress in record time, namely 12 weeks, and within a very reasonable budget: between $2,200 and $3,900.
But after a successful launch, the Covid crisis caused the closure of all the retail stores she works with. Manon continued her collaborations B-to-B (business-to-business), and multiplied the number of “trunk shows” to make herself known, but also converted to the B-to-C (direct to consumer) model. “Les Aimants was first thought up to help bridal dress stores to offer ‘customizable’ products and have them be deliverable in record time. I decided to adapt the business model directly to New York brides by opening our first boutique in September 2020.” A unique in-person shopping experience, where she is also presenting a new collection of 25 additional pieces. Finally, she will also launch small group events, with several wedding service providers in attendance, providing information and exchanges in complete security, precious moments for future brides in need of guidance.