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Vera Wang and Mass Market Bridal Chain David's: A Match Made in Retail Heaven

Vera Wang Bridal strapless dress black opera glovesThere seems to be no end to the number of ways Vera Wang can capitalize on her bridal clout. As designer of dream dresses to the rich and famous, Wang has swathed the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Uma Thurman and Mariah Carey in yards of tulle and lace since 1990. Since then Wang's put her name on everything from fine china to mattresses (yes, really, Wang's got a "Signature Bridal Bed") all in the name of "creating a lifestyle that goes beyond core bridal."

But the designer's gowns -- ranging from $2000 to $13000 -- are priced out of reach for most brides, especially during the recession. Enter David's Bridal, the 300+ store Prince Charming. The two just launched an exclusive partnership for a new, more affordable, bridal collection. How sweet it is.

And smart. By signing on the dotted line, privately-held David's Bridal marries into Wang's designer cachet. It's unmatched, even by David's owner Leonard Green & Partners' other venerable bridal brand Priscilla of Boston. Wang's not only headed up a successful house for twenty years but she's got rich fashion blood having served for 16 years as an editor at Vogue, followed by a stint at Ralph Lauren, that other designer of an aspirational yet attainable lifestyle.

For Wang it's a strategic union, too. Distribution in David's stores will provide a similar penetration of the market that she's been enjoying with her Simply Vera line for Kohl's (KSS). Although the Wisconsin-based chain operates over 1,000 stores, David's 308, mostly mall stores represent what president and chief executive officer Robert Huth estimates as a 30 percent share of the U.S. bridal market.

Wang's president Mario Grauso told WWD, "There's not that many stores to sell to, and it's been slowly, slowly eroding. [In the current market] we're seeing only a nominal number of stores. So I said to Vera, not only am I interested in offering your dresses at a lower price point, but how nice to have distribution." It must be especially nice after some of Wang's retail outlets such as Saks (SKS) shuttered 16 out of 18 bridal shops at the end of last year.

Finally, the brides themselves will score. Wang dresses will now be available for under $1200, which is at the high end for David's but still in the range of splurge-worthy as the economy crawls out of the recession.

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