Laine London Lets You Rent (and Tailor) Your Wedding Dress – The New York Times
Q. and A.
Laine London, a Black-owned rental company, offers affordable, size-inclusive options for brides who want a perfectly tailored fit.
Lundyn Carter had only been shopping for her wedding dress for a few days, but she was already frustrated by the process. “I noticed a lack of diversity in sizes and styles and this added pressure to make a decision quickly,” she said of her search nearly nine years ago.
When she remembered that her mother had held onto her grandmother’s wedding gown, Ms. Carter decided to forgo the headache of dress shopping. At her wedding in 2014, Ms. Carter wore a reconstructed version of her grandmother’s dress. But alterations still cost almost $5,000.
In 2018, Ms. Carter opened Laine London, a brick-and-mortar wedding dress rental business in the Atlanta area, to help solve the problems she experienced. At Laine London, brides can rent a designer wedding dress with sizes ranging from 0 to 32. Rental prices, which include alterations and one accessory, start at $1,200 for seven days, a lower price point than the average $1,800 it costs to buy a dress that is usually worn once, according to the Knot. (A designer wedding dress can cost substantially more.)
With an average of five rentals per dress, Ms. Carter is focused on extending the life cycle of a wedding dress, which can reduce its environmental impact. “So much time and energy is built into one dress,” she said. “Why is only one person using this, and then it’s gone?”
In order to get multiple uses out of a dress while also ensuring that it’s customized and tailored to the bride, Laine London uses in-house tailors and dry-cleaners that help maintain the condition of a dress between uses.
Laine London has two upcoming pop-ups at the department store Showfields: One in New York from March 20 to Sept. 17, and another in Washington D.C. from May 22 to Nov. 5.
In an interview, Ms. Carter discussed size inclusivity and her goals for the wedding dress rental industry. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
What gap in the wedding industry are you trying to fill?
The model has really been the same for as long as we can remember: You buy this expensive dress, you wear it, then you get it dry-cleaned. Then, you put it in your mom’s basement or you try to sell it online on a resale site.
It’s very tedious and it just doesn’t reflect how we live our lives today. We’re all shopping on resale websites and getting ride shares. If we’re doing this in all other areas of our life, how come we can’t do this on one of the most important and special days of our life? We care so much about sustainability and about where our clothes are from and how long we wear them — why can’t we move this into the bridal industry?
We know that 77 percent of brides would rent formal wear, so the demand is there. But that option just isn’t available yet. That’s our focus.
How do you personalize a dress to customers who are renting?
We have about 200 to 250 dresses. One dress specifically — we call it “the pockets dress” — is an A-line mikado satin wedding gown with a sweetheart neckline, cathedral-length train, front slit and pockets. We’ve had women of all different age ranges and backgrounds wear this dress and customize it into their own way: a detachable train, sleeves, or an oversized bow in the back. We call it “The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants” dress, because whether you’re 5-foot-2 or 5-foot-10, this dress is just it.
We have four in-house tailors and we do all of our alterations in-house. We need to get multiple uses out of it, but also we really want to create this sense that this is your dress. What do you want to look like? How do you want to feel on your big day?
With an average of five rentals per dress, how do you make alterations to one dress multiple times?
One of the main reasons we’re able to do that is because we’re buying dresses directly from designers, versus buying a dress from a bride that’s looking to sell her dress. We can’t control what’s been done to that dress before it comes into our hands. We have four bridal gown designers: Justin Alexander, Tarik Ediz, Oksana Mukha, Pollardi Fashion Group.
And we’re making sure that dress has the qualities that we’ll be able to alter for multiple women while really maintaining its integrity. We want to make sure that if a bride’s renting on the fifth rental, it’s in the same shape as if they rented it for the very first time.
You offer sizes 0 to 32. How do you foster size inclusivity?
Our website is not your traditional bridal site where you see rows and rows of images of the models from the designers. That’s because we wanted to make sure that the dresses that brides see on our site and in our social media are a reflection of what they actually will look like on them. The majority of our content is user-generated content where brides, after they get their professional photos, send them to us and we’re able to upload those onto our site and to our social media.
We also do not charge additional for plus sizes. Even if our designers are charging us additional for larger sizes when we purchase them wholesale, we do not offset those costs to the bride.
What are your goals for Laine London?
As we continue to grow the business and get our name out there, I think a lot more women will consider renting. Right now it’s really about: if you don’t know, then you don’t know.
What would you say to a bride who’s nervous about renting such an expensive dress? I’m guessing you want her to be relaxed on her wedding day and not worried about rips or wine stains.
We’ve never had a dress that’s in such bad shape that it couldn’t be rented again. We want a bride to enjoy every moment of her day. Have fun and we’ll take care of the rest … just don’t jump in the pool!
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