The modern bride loves sleek, minimalist pieces designed to be worn long after her wedding day. She is slowly walking away from fast fashion and regards the items in her wardrobe with great care and respect.
Founded by friends Jess Kaye and Rosie Williams, The OWN Studio follows directly into this new approach on life, fashion and well-being. The 12 piece collection has been designed for the modern, fashion conscious woman who happens to be a bride.
To learn more about this new ways of looking at the bridal industry, I had a very interesting chat with Jess and discovered how the modern bride can be her best self in her wedding gown.
First let me congratulate you in this new venture. What made you decide to become a new player in the bridal industry ?
Thank-you! We founded The OWN Studio because we saw a real gap in the market for fashion-led, contemporary bridal wear. I found it impossible to find anything that I felt myself in for my wedding, and my business partner Rosie had a similar experience when she was asked to be a bridesmaid. If you weren’t a ‘boho bride’ or a ‘princess bride,’ there was nothing for you. We both love sleek, minimal, effortless fashion and it felt like that aesthetic was really missing from bridal wear. We also wanted to really shake up the retail experience – we visited lots of boutiques when looking for my dress and found the experience to be a complete anti-climax, so we wanted to change this up. Hence our mission to redefine bridal wear – from design aesthetic to retail experience.
I know you want to limit wastage, can you explain to my readers how the bridal gown “standard” process affects our environment?
According to the charity Wrap, which promotes sustainable waste management, the average lifetime for a garment in the UK is just 2.2 years. For bridal wear, the average lifetime is just 1 day! By definition, a bridal garment is one of the most unsustainable items of clothing you will ever purchase. This is a major issue and something we are passionate about addressing – we call it our commitment to being ‘sartorially sustainable’. We create designs with versatility – every single piece across both the bridal and bridesmaid ranges has been designed to become a much-loved wardrobe staple after the wedding, and each OWN bridal piece is delivered to brides along with tips on how to re-wear and re-style their wedding outfit after the big day, whether that’s hemming a train to create a versatile midi dress or teaming bridal separates with jeans or polo-necks.
Everything is either made-to-order or made-to-measure which means there is minimal wastage. From the fabric offcuts we create matching scrunchies for bridesmaids as well as other accessories such as sashes, belts, pocket squares and hair ribbons. All garments are made in London (where we are based) to keep the supply chain and transportation emissions as small as possible. Fabric is sourced from Europe, and all orders are beautifully wrapped and delivered to customers in recyclable and biodegradable packaging.
Does this new conscious bridal shopping experience means the bride won’t be as pampered as she is now?
On the contrary – we want our brides to feel completely pampered! We are on a mission to redefine bridal wear and a big part of that is shaking up the (sometimes lacklustre) retail experience. We have worked hard to create a more comfortable and positive experience for both brides and bridesmaids. We offer at-home appointments to customers based in London & Greater London (these have proved really popular) as well as appointments at our pop-up studio in East London. Customers should expect the red carpet treatment – one to one consultations with Rosie & I and champagne on arrival. So far we’ve had amazing feedback from our brides about how much they enjoyed their appointment.
What would you tell a bride that believes made-to-order means she won’t get to see her wedding dress until it’s “too late”?
We’ve made it really easy for brides to visualise our styles online with lots of detail shots and descriptions, and by the fuss-free nature of our designs, it’s really easy to see each garment’s shape and silhouette. We are always available to answer any questions to make sure brides feel confident shopping online.
We also have a really useful video guide on how to take your measurements – so there is help every step of the way! However, like most designers, we would always recommend that brides try on a sample before they buy, which they can do through an appointment at their home or in our studio.
This will give them a really good idea of the overall look. If they want further reassurance they can choose to have a toile made, at a small additional cost. We make our toiles in a soft white fabric so it’s easy for them to visualise the final look. Once they’re happy with it, we’ll then make it up in the final fabric.
The current collection is very sleek and modern. Who is your bride? And does she fine dine with James Bond? ( cause I sure see her )
I bet she wishes she could! Our customer is the type of girl who buys Zara but wears it like Celine. She’s confident and discerning, and inspired by other women, but knows her own mind. She’s got a sense of humour and she doesn’t take life too seriously.
Can your designs be embellished, if let’s say a bride wants a bit more glam on her big day?
Of course, once brides receive the dress it’s theirs to customise!
I know bridal gowns are like kids… but do you have a favourite??
There are many favourites but if I had to choose, I am absolutely in love with the Tux – it looks and feels so fabulous. I wish I could get remarried in it! Rosie actually got married in our sequin column dress (STYLE 003) earlier this year, so I think it’s safe to say that’s her favourite piece. We are also completely obsessed with the transformative power of a simple, beautifully cut slip dress; it’s one of our favourite silhouettes.
The stage is yours, please tell my brides anything you’d like and why they should keep OWN on their bridal must see! Also where can my brides find you and how can they purchase a OWN bridal gown.
Ultimately, our bride doesn’t want to play ‘dress up’ when she gets married – she’s not looking to be a boho bride, or a princess bride. She is looking for a sleek, show-stopping outfit that will help her feel the best version of herself – strong, confident, empowered. We passionately believe that you can only look your best when you feel incredible, and at The OWN Studio you’ll find contemporary, fashion-led bridal wear that will help you do just that.
Book an appointment to come and see us at our pop up studio on 23 November or contact us to book an at-home appointment (London and Greater London only.) Follow us at @theOWNstudio for information on further pop up dates or visit our website www.theownstudio.com
Anna Schimmel’s brand is known for its outstanding gowns, each one hand crafted using the most beautiful fabrics that I source through my connections in Europe. Fulfilling a Bride’s vision of how she dreamed she would look on her wedding day is wonderful to be a part of. We wanted to know a bit more about her work so we sent her a couple of questions. Here is what Anna shared with us. Hopefully all you fashionbrides will enjoy the amazing interview! Don’t forget to check her website at annaschimmel
1. When did you decided to become a designer and why did you find this domain interesting?
I have worked in fashion for 30 years. Starting out with a dressmaking apprenticeship, then working as a dressmaker in various couture houses I finished seven years of training with a master degree from one of the best fashion schools in Europe. After working as a patternmaker in an Haute Couture house, then running a large theatre workshop, design was the natural progression. I slipped from working behind the scenes into design and with my extensive skill in couture the bridal industry seemed a good fit.
2. Talk us through the first years of you work. Maybe you could tell us what did change in time? Are your designs different from the very beginning?
Opening my own bridal studio in NZ during the year 2001 I noticed a fairly rigid sense of bridal fashion with certain looks and cuts being the expected. Before the internet was widespread New Zealand really was the end of the world, a beautiful country, full of lovely people, but a year or so behind Europe. The collections of established bridal designers moved slowly and there was not much sense of change and current trends. We were the first designer to offer regular fashionable bridal collections, (beautifully photographed and published online) where every single style was completely new – it took a year or so for others to follow suit. Now trends seemingly move fast, and there are often certain Pinterest photos several of my clients bring to show me in the same week. Interestingly those photos are not always of new styles and I may have noticed them featured a while back, but they have suddenly become hot.
3. Why should a bride-to-be choose one of your designs?
Anna Schimmel wedding dresses are known for timeless, feminine beauty. Our classic look combined with a modern edge is really what makes us stand out at the first look. The perfect tailoring and luxurious fabrics are distinctive, but more subtle.
4. Do tell us a bit more about your inspiration sources.
We are surrounded by inspiration, trends are as much in the air as they are on the streets. Bridal fashion develops out of general trends, I can almost see them coming. Outside this current ‘mood’ new fabrics are developed every season and these ask for certain new looks. I am inspired as much by new material, new fashion trends as by the brides I work with.
5. Have you got any piece you’ve created and that has a very special meaning for you? Can you describe it or can show us a picture?
After my immigration to New Zealand I was freelancing as a patternmaker for local fashion designers. During this time I had my two children. I love the technicalities of patternmaking but I hated the way jobs came in and had to be finished more or less overnight, only to then lose urgency and often not be picked up for days. So I looked around for other jobs and business ideas, but ended up working in where I’m best: couture and fashion. Bridal was the obvious choice, but I wasn’t really a people person and also didn’t know if I could design great looks.
When I decided to try my hand at bridal my children were respectively 1 and 3 years old. We sold our mortgage free house, and took up a lot of debt to move into central Auckland where I was hoping to open a bridal studio. The place we bought was a leaky ruin and we ended up pretty broke. I set up my sewing machine in the dimly lit, mud floor cellar and created my first bridal collection.
This bridal collection was well received and one of the photos is still my favorite – a sparkly blush pink fairytale wedding dress, with layered organza skirt photographed in a rock strewn NZ creek. A very romantic princess gown in a stunning setting. I have the photo on my workshop wall, but all digital copies are long-lost.
6. From your point of view, how should a perfect bride look like?
Beautiful, and radiant!
7. And tell us what would you give her and, maybe, other brands can’t.
Her ideal, spectacular wedding dress and a wonderful, personal experience. We create the perfect dress to frame the brides’ personal beauty.
We are planning to offer our collections online from next season, so watch this space..
8. Last but not least, do you have any advice for FashionBride readers?
This is your one day to be the very best you could ever be. Treat yourself to your dream wedding dress and feel a million dollars!