New bridal boutiques and ateliers in Brooklyn, specifically Gowanus, Greenpoint, Boerum Hill and Bedford Stuyvesant, sell wedding dresses and accessories by young women designers who understand the needs of a bride seeking elegant, contemporary design with handmade embellishments, and, often a one-of-a-kind dress made just for her.
Most of the gowns and accessories are made in small workrooms in Brooklyn, rather than large factories in China and elsewhere. Some shops are so small and custom there is only one person sewing, often the designer. Service is by appointment and the boutiques take pride in the sustainability of their fabrics.
Atlantic Avenue used to be reserved for antique shops, but other retailers have moved in like VeKa Bridal, a small store in Boerum Hill owned by two women, Jana Vendeland and Ksenia Kaliaguina. It sells bridal dresses by one Brooklyn designer, Tomomi Okubo, and four others in Chicago, Belgium, Italy and Spain, all of whom have very small production companies and make every dress to measure, by hand. All alterations are done in-house at VeKa. The usual time for a garment to be made is four to five months. (Rush orders are $100 to $250 extra.) All sizes are available; dresses are $2,000 to $4,000.
Rebecca Schoneveld is the in-house designer of one line of dresses at Schone Bride in Gowanus. She offers a collection of customizable gowns from sizes 00 to 30. (There is no extra charge for larger sizes.) Ms. Schoneveld said she wants each bride to feel unique. She said her collection can be compared with a Build-A-Bear Workshop because all designs can be changed; tops and skirts can be mixed and matched and fabrics are chosen to fit each bride’s taste. Almost every dress is made by hand in the neighborhood workshop, but not made to measure, meaning that it usually must be altered for a custom fit. (About 25 percent of her dresses that are embroidered and embellished are made by a small family-owned production company in India.) Prices range from $2,000 to $3,500. Dresses take about four months to make (rush orders are $500 more). Alterations will have to be done elsewhere at the buyer’s expense. Other independent designers are sold in the shop, though not made in New York; they are handmade to order in small studios.
Lakum Bridal Boutique
Sathya Balakumar and Heather Green own Lakum, which is on bridal row in Gowanus. Ms. Balakumar is the designer of the collection, which is made in Brooklyn, though the beadwork is done in India. Every gown is made to order and is a mix of modern and traditional style with what Ms. Balakumar refers to as “geometric embellishments.” All sizes are available, but there is a charge for extra fabric for sizes over 14. Dresses range from $2,000 to $8,000, most are about $3,500. The average time for making a dress is eight weeks. By appointment.
Kimera Design is a small shop on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill owned by Yvonne Chu. Ms. Chu not only designs the dresses but will change skirts, tops and fabrics to suit each customer. You will never see your dress on someone else at another wedding. Most of her simple, modern dresses cost less than $1,000. (They start at $328.) Lace and embellishments are extra. It is best to give the shop four to six months advance notice to make a garment. There is an additional charge of about 10 percent for rush orders. From 0 to plus sizes are available. A small group of sample dresses may be bought off the rack.
Samantha Sleeper is the only designer in her Gowanus shop. Ms. Sleeper designs and hand makes custom, couture dresses that take about six months to finish. Her collection is romantic and ethereal and includes styles both with or without sleeves. The embroidery on her gowns is made in Brooklyn. Prices start at $3,000 and go to $20,000-plus for a fully embroidered and embellished dress. These garments are so customized that they can even be made with “easy access for breast-feeding mothers,” Ms. Sleeper said. By appointment.
Loulette Bride is a shop in Greenpoint owned by Marteal Mayer and LaTimberly Johnson. Ms. Mayer is the designer of the bridal dresses that are “made with love in Brooklyn,” according to the website. (The samples are made in Brooklyn, the designer said, and finished garments are made in Manhattan.) The owners say their dresses are “sophisticated, yet fun, fresh and playful.” Prices are $2,500 to $4,000, made to order, and come in sizes 0 to 16. They take eight to 10 weeks (rush orders add $150 to $300). Plus sizes are $250 more. Loulette tries to use only natural fabrics like cotton, linen and silk. Five percent of the shop’s profits are donated to the Honey Bee Conservancy, a nonprofit organization.
Tatyana Merenyuk is the designer and maker of a line of bridal dresses that she said is contemporary with vintage inspirations. She makes about 300 garments each year. “They are very custom since I do everything including the sewing. I have one seamstress who helps me,” she said. Her dresses are $2,000 to $6,000, with most around $3,000. Allow about six months for the finished dress, all of which are made in her Brooklyn studio. Ms. Merenyuk has a wait list.
Hushed Commotion is a bridal accessories studio in Bedford Stuyvesant, owned by Thea Bloch-Neal. Ms. Bloch-Neal is the designer and maker of all the pieces in her collection, which includes customized shoes, veils, headpieces and jewelry.
Her veils, both long and short, range from $175 to $500. Embellished shoes and sneakers (not including the price of the shoes) are $90 to $400. Everything is handmade in the studio by Ms. Bloch-Neal and an assistant. She asks for a four- to seven-week lead time, although rush orders can be accommodated for an extra charge of $25.
Rebecca Sheppard Floral Design
The bridal row in Gowanus is almost full-service wedding shopping and it includes Rebecca Shepherd Floral Design. Ms. Shepherd says her designs tend toward the modern and whimsical. She has a 3,000-square-foot space with 30 baker’s racks filled with containers, lanterns and other accouterments to accompany the flowers. She and her team do about 100 weddings a year. They supply the bridal bouquets, ($200 to $350), arches and huppahs, centerpieces and ceremony arrangements. Most weddings they do are in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but they will travel for a price. Her space has 25-foot-high ceilings and can be transformed into a wedding venue, which holds about 60 guests for cocktails.
Pantora Bridal, a store on Nostrand Avenue in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, is owned by Andrea Pitter Campbell who is also the designer of the bridal dresses and flower girl dresses. Ms. Pitter Campbell is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. She sells two bridal gown lines. The Pantora Bridal collection is made in-house by a team of two to five people; the other collection, Andrea Campbell, is made by outside manufacturers. The Pantora Mini collection, includes dresses appropriate for flower girls; they are made on the premises. The flower girl dress sizes start at 9 months; prices begin at $150 and take six to 12 weeks to make. Bridal dresses are $1,800 to $8,000. Suggested lead time for a bridal dress is six to 14 months. By appointment only.
The Wedding Dresser
The Wedding Dresser has been based in Industry City on the edge of Gowanus for the last year and a half. It is owned by Susan Ruddie Spring, who started her career in theater costuming before entering the bridal industry. Everyone in her group has been trained in costume or bridal fashion, she said. The Wedding Dresser will customize a dress bought elsewhere, restyle a vintage gown, re-size or alter a recycled gown, do buildups of sleeves or necklines, reshape skirts, add beading or just alter a dress. The shop also sells a line of accessories like jackets and capes. Belts and gloves can be customized with laces and trims, and dresses can be restyled or painted after the wedding to be worn as a party dress. All work is done in Brooklyn and in-home fittings are available.
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