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Posted Date: 6/8/2012

Cotton Finds a Place in the Bridal Industry

By Jessica Binns, Contributing Editor
Today's brides are professing their love in gowns as individual as they are – including cotton – from a wide range of designers.

The most important wedding gown features for today's brides are fit (94 percent) and style (93 percent), followed by price (89 percent), comfort (88 percent) and fiber content (57 percent), according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor Survey.

Silks, satins, and chiffons may be the fabrics most associated with bridal gowns, but Monitor data indicate brides are still willing to say "I do" to cotton.

Fifty eight percent of women say they prefer their wedding gown to be made of silk, followed by cotton (13 percent), polyester (7 percent), rayon (7 percent), and linen (4 percent). However, almost 7 out of 10 women (69 percent) would consider purchasing a wedding gown with cotton as the primary fabric, citing comfort (32 percent), "looks good" (24 percent) and breathability (10 percent) as reasons.

At the recent International Bridal Show in New York, cotton gowns were located among the better, higher-end labels. Designer Claire Pettibone, who first introduced cotton to her bridal line eight years ago, is not surprised. "A refined client appreciates subtle details and recognizes that cotton is a quality fabric and a lovely addition to the silks and other fine fabrics found in designer collections."

Priscilla Chan, who made headlines for marrying Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, wore one of Pettibone's designs down the aisle in a surprise ceremony several weeks ago.

The Wedding Report shows that over the last three years, desire for a traditional wedding has declined more than 30 percent - while interest in destination (+8 percent), unique (+6 percent) and "green" or eco-friendly (+3 percent) weddings has only increased since 2008.

The Cotton Bride's Chris Kole, designer, says modern brides are much more likely to be unconstrained by convention and instead make decisions by what appeals to them as individuals -- from both emotional and practical perspectives.

Kole, who creates both elaborate and understated cotton gowns, says that whether in a house of worship or outdoors, bridal is trending toward a period look.

"Trendwise, we are noticing more and more of our brides looking for vintage elements and opting for cleaner, simpler design over a dress that has excess beading or superfluous detail," Kole says.

On average, women are willing to pay about $809 for the "perfect" wedding gown, the Monitor finds. Among women earning $75,000 or more, the figure increases to $1,083.

Kole says, "Now more than ever, brides are embracing uniqueness, but this doesn't necessarily mean they don't want to maintain a timeless or traditional concept."

Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The Program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.

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