Dress Come True is a revolutionary concept in the Middle East - an online wedding dress marketplace, founded by Eva Hachem and her husband Andy Werner. BAZAAR caught up with the enterprising Lebanese native on how she discovered this gap in the market, whether shopping for wedding dresses is the experience it used to be and what the Internet means for the future of the bridal industry.
Harper's BAZAAR Arabia: Why did you find there was a need for an online marketplace like Dress Come True?
Eva Hachem: I got married in 2016 and really struggled to find my dream dress, despite scouring boutiques across the country. I had to visit countless stores, take multiple appointments and was left with limited time to try on the dresses. As the whole process was verging on completely overwhelming, I even began custom-making my own gown. Prices were unreasonable and the dress I'd been dreaming of was nowhere to be found.
After the wedding I tried to sell my dress. I called up various boutiques and spoke to brides, enquiring about where would be the best place to do so. It came to light that there was a need for a dedicated space for pre-loved wedding dresses. My husband Andy Werner and I decided to create an online marketplace serving both brides wanting to sell their dress and brides-to-be looking for their dream dress at a reasonable price. This experience indicated to me that there were established businesses connecting buyers and sellers of pre-loved wedding gowns across the world, however, not in the Middle East. We then started to think about filling this gap and tailoring our business model to this region.
Eva Hachem, Founder of Dress Come True
Courtesy of Dress Come True
HBA: There's been a trend towards sustainability in fashion. Have you seen a rise in demand for pre-loved or vintage gowns?
EH: There has definitely been a rise in demand for pre-loved dresses in many countries, including across the GCC and Middle East. The Dress Come True model has proved successful internationally and we've seen increased acceptance of the idea of buying pre-loved designer bags, shoes and the like in this region, as well as the concept of renting. Pre-loved has also gained ground amongst environmentally conscious consumers.
We believe buying pre-loved will only increase in popularity as it has done elsewhere in the world. We think that most women would be happy to wear a pre-loved gown if they knew it meant finding their dream dress with minimal stress, at a reasonable price, and receive it looking brand new. The wedding dresses we list on our site are mostly worn once before, although sometimes never worn at all, with the seller encouraged to note the garment's exact condition. No matter where you are in the world, we think finding your dream dress is made that little bit sweeter if you can purchase it at a reasonable price.
HBA: Why do you think the Middle Eastern audience responds so well to the Dress Come True concept?
EH: The Middle East is a melting pot of cultures and attitudes, tastes and budgets. We believe our business caters to this. Something we hear constantly from brides is how disappointing an experience searching for their dream dress was - it was nothing like that romantic notion we had growing up. With wedding planning going on alongside the stresses of 21st-century life, the experience itself is not suited to the modern bride.
When it comes to selling wedding dresses, there was no dedicated space for pre-loved ones. Like me, many brides wouldn’t know where to sell their dress. Many have an emotional connection with their wedding gown and are not happy to list it on platforms where it’s displayed next to household items and such.
Courtesy of Dress Come True
HBA: How has the experience of shopping for a wedding dress changed in the past decade?
EH: The pleasure has been taken out of the experience; you usually have to visit many boutiques to find a style or design you like, then once you’ve found it, it's likely that the price is more than you'd like to spend. The whole process has become a hugely stressful affair. At Dress Come True, the aim is to take the pressure off the bride and bring the dress to her - she can view all of the options offered on our site, applying filters as required and with the details on each dress laid out before her.
HBA: How do you think the presence of online marketplaces for wedding dresses could change the direction of the bridal industry?
EH: The modern bride is looking for an online experience: a space that allows her to select designs according to her preferences, at an agreeable price point, from the comfort of her home. She can then go and try on the gown - in a way it merges the online-offline experience. The presence of a dedicated online marketplace for wedding dresses increases price transparency, as brides can browse all of the options within the price range they’re comfortable with.
For brides seeking to part with their wedding dress, Dress Come True connects them with brides looking for their dream dress, so it’s creates a bridge between the two parties.
Courtesy of Dress Come True
HBA: Why are digital bridal start-ups particularly popular right now?
EH: The wedding industry is traditional and closely knit. Start-ups disrupting the industry mostly come from outside, due to consumers' own experiences and frustration.
The bridal industry remains lucrative, as large amounts are spent on weddings, and on bridalwear in particular. The market, though, is embracing new business models: the bride wants more choice and the Internet can provide that. What people want out of their wedding has also changed in recent years - people value the experience of the wedding itself more, ensuring that the whole day is memorable and that they can share it on social media, rather spending a fortune on a single factor such as the cake or the wedding dress.
HBA: Where do you hope Dress Come True will be in five years’ time?
EH: Our aim is to become the go-to marketplace for brides-to-be across the Middle East, in search of their dream wedding dress. At Dress Come True, brides are able to view all of the choices in one place, with the option to filter by criteria such as designer, silhouette, price, location and novelty. We want to remove the stress from the situation - planning a wedding can be challenging enough without the added worry of being unable to find your dream dress. That's our ultimate goal and vision.