Scroll down for some sneak peek photos!
To be honest, the very premise of The Aisle New York made us nervous -- buying a wedding dress off the Internet? We were shaking in our boots (bought online; could barely commit to). But it turns out that co-founders David Yassky and Shara Levy have the e-tail bridal biz down to a science. Since setting up shop on January 3, their membership has more than tripled and brides-to-be are taking advantage of the $25 earned each time one of their invited friends makes a purchase. Not bad. Not bad, at all.
Read up on what the pair had to say about their just-launched site, tips for streamlining the gown-choosing process and what they think Kate Middleton and Natalie Portman should wear on their big days. And scroll down for an exclusive sneak peek of what's to come on The Aisle New York.
HP: Who came up with the idea for the site? Why?
Shara Levy: The idea for The Aisle New York came about in 2009 when I was planning my own wedding. I knew exactly which designers I hoped I would wear on my wedding day and which silhouettes fit my body the best, but finding the dress of my dreams for a price that was palatable was really the challenge. Scouring the city looking for sample sales lost its luster quickly after my first sample sale experience. Shopping for your wedding can be a difficult process, especially when you don't have access to what you want for your big day. Being a big online shopper, it was at that time that I realized there was a void in the marketplace for high-end bridal. It lead to the question: Why in an age when you can practically buy anything online, should a Bride be excluded from this luxury? We thought they should not be!
HP: Tell me about the charity angle and why it's so critical to your mission.
SL: Philanthropy is beautiful. It's part of our DNA, as simple as that. The Aisle New York donates 2% of every gown we sell to the designer's charity of choice. Our designers have the option of matching our donation, and most have agreed to do so! In this initiative which we have coined, Spread The Love, shoppers can see all of our gown designers and their respective charities, with accompanying copy explaining the significance of the cause. An e-commerce purchase has typically been so impersonal. This charitable element makes the experience special and allows our brides to be directly inspired by the designer they have chosen to wear on their wedding day. It really is feel-good shopping!
HP: How far in advance should a bride-to-be start looking for dresses?
David Yassky: Most traditional salon experiences require that a bride waits at least 10 to 16 weeks for her dress to arrive. Once the gown comes into the salon- usually 3 fittings are also required. The process can be quite lengthy. One of the best added values to The Aisle New York is our sense of immediacy. The majority of our gowns are in stock and even ready to ship the same day as purchased. If your engagement is short-lead, you haven't made up your mind yet, or you're just not an advanced planner -- we can service any customer.
HP: Any tips on the process? Isn't buying online risky?
DY: Today, one can buy any and everything online -- from cars, to homes, to shoes. There's really no difference when it comes to a wedding dress or a great accessory. It all comes down to customer service and creating an unparalleled shopping experience. The visual tools and information on our site are so compelling and user friendly, that we really replicate the salon experience. From impeccable photography with multiple angles and zoom functionality, to dynamic sizing charts and diagrams -- to in depth product and fabrication descriptions -- we provide our brides with all the information and resources she could ever need. Any significant purchase today requires a little bit of research and preparation. Most of our brides have done their homework -- they know the designers they love, they know their body types well and they've even tried on a few gowns in salons. At the end of it all, they come to us to find exclusive product and insider prices.
To de-risk the experience, we offer return insurance on our gown purchases. For $200, a bride can opt to insure her dress -- allowing her to return her gown for a full refund within 5 business days. We'll even set you up with the perfect seamstress or alterations specialist in your town.
Do your homework, be prepared, act quickly and be brave.
HP: Who was the best-dressed bride of all time?
DY: There's a reason why everyone has the same answer -- because it's unanimously true -- Grace Kelly. She found away to marry tradition and grace with modernity and sensuality. I don't know anyone else who could make long sleeves as sexy and youthful as she did. The high-cinched cummerbund like waist with the delicate lace bodice was truly sublime.
HP: Any thoughts on what Kate Middleton will wear?
DY: Well all the odds are pointing to Bruce Oldfield and it seems to be as good as done. If
it were up to us -- we'd love to see Kate in something as simply beautiful, radiant and unfussy as she is. It would be so refreshing and modern to see a royal wedding dress that was a bit more streamlined and sleek. Jenny Packham -- a fellow Brit and one of our favorite bridal designers on The Aisle New York would be so beautiful on Kate. Her pieces can often look Deco inspired -- slimmer silhouettes, subtle embellishment and daring details.
How about Natalie Portman?
DY: Not only has it been the year of the wedding, but it's been the year of the celebrity pregnant bride. From Alicia Keys to Bethany Frankel and with the pending nuptials of Natalie Portman -- you can absolutely look stunning while expecting. One of the most flattering and romantic silhouettes on earth, The Empire Waist, looks just as stunning on a pregnant bride, as it does a bombshell figure. The high waist, and emphasis on the bust line elongates the body and is the epitome of ethereal. We'd love to see Natalie's love of fashion and impeccable taste translate to her wedding gown. We expect her to call longtime favorites Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, to whip her up an empire waist silk chiffon stunning Goddess gown.
Take a first look at upcoming sales on The Aisle New York.