Interview with J.Crew's Bridal Designer Tom Mora

Thursday, August 25, 2011

wedding business blogToday, I'm featuring an interview with Tom Mora, J.Crew's head of wedding design. Last May I had the chance to attend the opening party for J.Crew's brick and mortar store bridal store in New York. While J.Crew had been selling dresses online for a while, this dedicated store signaled a shift in how mainstream companies are approaching the wedding market. In a little over a year since then, other large companies have launched more seriously into the bridal space, but J.Crew has managed to stay ahead of them. Here is Tom's take on all things wedding-related:

How did you get into design? 
My parents were very young and very stylish when I was growing up. My dad shopped at Barney’s when it was on 17th street and took me there for my first sports jackets so I guess it was bound to happen that I would do something in fashion. I was always interested in design and in high school I took every art class I could and there were many. I always seemed to come back to fashion design.

How is designing for brides and bridesmaids different than designing an everyday line for women? 
A woman’s wedding is one of the most special days of her life, so we try to make the experience of the dress very special. We really think about the details and the finishings, what fabric the bride is going to have against her skin, what the dress looks like when it is open, what she looks like from behind as she is walking down the aisle. For bridesmaids it’s similar but I think we just want women to feel sophisticated, confident and comfortable. So many bridesmaids dread wearing the dresses picked for them. With J.Crew dresses, they are excited.

Your bridal store on Madison is beautiful and very thoughtfully planned out. How do you feel the environment of the store affects a bride when finding her dress? Do you feel that an online shopping experience can offer something similar? 
The store evokes a calmness and feeling of warmth that the bride hopes to experience on her wedding day. We are trying more and more to make the online shopping experience as special as the store experience. It will obviously be a different sort of experience but hopefully still satisfying.

Are you seeing that brides shop differently than your typical female J.Crew customers? If so, in what ways? 
In many ways it is very similar. Brides visit the wedding boutique with a very specific dress in mind. Many main line J.Crew shoppers come into our stores with their J.Crew catalogue dogmarked with exactly what they want to buy. Women are attracted to the beautiful, classic designs and unique variety of colors that have become signature of J.Crew as a whole.

With so much competition in the bridal fashion sector, how do you stay true to your creative vision and stay inspired? 
It is important to stay true to your vision and that’s what we try to do at J.Crew. I admire many bridal companies but we really approach designing wedding dresses differently. Obviously they are wedding dresses but they are really just beautiful dresses.

Where do you see bridal trends going in the near future? 
With the bridal market being as full as it is, I think there will be more and more companies going after niche businesses. Our niche? Beautiful, timeless, elegant, easy, comfortable and chic.

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