Breaking news: There’s a wedding dress shortage, and coronavirus is the culprit. Finding the perfect dress is already a huge challenge, but the recent coronavirus outbreak has resulted in long delays in bridal gown orders here in the United States.
The reason? Most wedding dresses are made in China, where the coronavirus originated — a massive 80 percent of all Western-style gowns are manufactured here — and factories in the country have shut down in a desperate attempt to contain the outbreak. Even if wedding dresses are American-made, many fabrics, such as lace, satin, and chiffon, originate from the Far East, causing further delays.
As coronavirus now has pandemic-potential, brides-to-be are considering whether to postpone their big day until the problem is sorted. Here’s everything you need to know…
Coronavirus Wedding Dress Shortage
The church is booked. The guests have been invited. But many American brides are asking one question: Where is my wedding dress? Couples getting married in the weeks and months ahead might face an unexpected shock: There’s a global wedding dress shortage.
The problem lies with coronavirus, which has already claimed thousands of lives. More than 760 million workers in China, the country worst-affected by the virus, are in some form of home lock-down, causing many factories to shut their doors. As a result, brides-to-be are struggling to source wedding dresses that are produced there.
For brides who have already ordered their gowns, there is uncertainly over when they will receive them and, when factories do open again, Chinese workers will face an unprecedented backlog of orders.
One wedding dress store owner in Melbourne, Australia, tells ABC News Australia that 90 percent of her affordable designer dresses come from China, and while she sells some European and American brands, these are often more expensive.
Now she wonders whether customers will receive their orders:
“I worry that the dress they’ve spent a lot of time and money on and a lot of time choosing is just not going to be here.”
Many wedding store owners in the US have a similar problem. Around 31 billion units of apparel are produced every year in China, making the country one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of clothing. Moreover, estimated apparel sales in China increased by 3.5 percent in 2019.
For many brides, finding a dress is one of the most joyful — and sometimes stressful! — parts of the wedding process. Now, some might not be able to find the dress they really want.
How Bad Will the Problem Get?
The British government hs already discussed the current wedding dress shortage in Parliament, with one official campaigning for financial support for wedding store owners.
But this won’t solve the problem for brides — many of whom have dreamed about their wedding dress since they were children.
The average wedding dress has around a 16-week lead time and, with delays because of coronavirus, brides might not receive their gowns for six months or more. Although many of the dresses in China are not made-to-measure, the gowns are still made for a specific bride, and the size, color, and length are all important components.
“A lot of our factories and all of our dresses are mainly produced overseas. We have a few select brands that are actually manufactured and produced here in the US. Still, the majority are produced overseas in China,” the manager of a wedding dress store in Rapid City, South Dakota, tells KOATV.
Coronavirus is most certainly one of the biggest events to rock the wedding dress industry in many, many years. What makes matters worse is that spring is usually the peak time for wedding dress shopping, so the outbreak couldn’t have come at a worse time. Before coronavirus, experts predicted that the bridal gown market would generate $38.6 million this year but, with the way things are going, this number might be significantly lower as brides postpone their weddings or seek out alternative arrangements.
Why Custom Locally-Made Dresses are a Better Fit
If a bride’s dress is held up in China, she has few options. She could wait until factories reopen and manufacturers distribute orders again, or she could search for alternative options. The same goes for brides who are thinking about ordering wedding dresses. Few women will want to take the risk of buying a dress in China when it could be weeks or months before their order is even processed.
One option is to search for locally-made dresses. Although these have a slightly more expensive price tag, and there might be fewer design options, American wedding dresses are known for their craftsmanship and quality.
Another option is for brides to buy the fabric themselves and hire a local designer to make them a couture dress. This is a great way for a bride to get involved in the design of her dress and create something truly unique that she can pass down to her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Brides just can’t get this same level of customization with designer dresses from China.
“You will get an absolutely unique wedding gown, which no one had, has or will have after you,” says The Best Wedding Dresses. “Though a wedding isn’t the event, some of us want our wedding dress to be unforgettable and not similar to anything else.”
Whatever brides decide, time is of the essence. The global wedding dress shortage might soon trickle down to the local level. With more demand for locally-made dresses, there could be limited supplies in some stores. Fabrics will be harder to find. Couture designers will be in greater demand.
For the time being, coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, and brides-to-be should look into alternative options when sourcing wedding dresses. As the majority of gowns are produced in China, many brides have been left waiting for their orders to arrive. Locally-made couture wedding dresses will enable brides to create their own garments without having to postpone the big day.