Fashion brands say 'I do' to wedding gowns

Urban Outfitters Inc, owner of brands including Anthropologie, has announced a new bridal label amid a growing wedding trend in ready-to-wear.

Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad told Relaxnews earlier this year that wedding dresses would save the haute couture industry in the long run - "a haute couture dress that you'll hopefully only use once in a lifetime, that's our niche in the market" - but recently, bridal gowns are also being incorporated into more budget-conscious designer ranges.

The new Urban Outfitters brand, which will be launched with a website next Valentine's Day, will carry gowns ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 as well as bridesmaid dresses, and other wedding gear including gifts and invitations.

Design duo Badgley Mischka also announced a collection of dresses for the budget-conscious bride: priced between $2,000 and $4,000, they cost half the usual price of a dress by the label.

And bridal dress designer Monique Lhuillier launched a more affordable range of her styles, called Bliss by Monique Lhuillier, retailing between $2,300 and $3,500.

The internet's top designer shopping site, Net-à-Porter (netaporter.com), already reacted to this trend, inaugurating its wedding boutique last month, featuring brands such as Temperley, Lanvin, and Stella McCartney.

If the trend continues, it will only be a matter of time until bridal dresses are integrated into designers' ready-to-wear fashion shows and wedding-themed beauty ranges are launched.

Whether the new launches will prove successful with customers, remains to be seen, however. The average American woman spends just over $1,000 for her wedding dress, for example, and web portal onewed.com says that the main trends for 2010 include customized, vintage, and eco-friendly, 'no-name' dresses.

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