Simply Devine is a wholesaler selling to other boutiques and hat shops as well as a retailer, so our planning cycle for our new collection begins a year in advance.
We start in around January/February looking at the colour palettes of special occasion wear for the following year, to ensure that our hats and fascinators are going to tone or match the colours in the shops.
We have our own colour ideas too! This year rich dark greens have been in fashion, and because many weddings have been postponed, we predict that many mums of brides or grooms had already bought their outfits before the wedding was postponed – meaning many of our customers will be wearing dresses they have already bought this year, ready for a wedding in 2021.
We also take inspiration from major designers. The main image (above) features a fabulous creation by Alexander McQueen, and we have designed the blue pompom hatinator as a fun piece inspired by this crazy dress!
The next step in the process is to create new designs – but not forgetting our signature looks and our popular styles, which we know will sell well. We work with our manufacturer to ensure that some of our wackier creations actually work and are wearable.
We try them on to ensure we get the right “look” and if they feel right – too heavy and they won’t be comfortable to wear.
It’s at this point that we may add more decoration – feathers, curls, quills, veiling, silk flowers, beads etc – or even take them off if they look too fussy.
Once we are happy with the design, and we have chosen the colours, we then have to obtain the right amount of sinamay and dye it to our shades. Crin is a little different as this is usually bought in ready dyed from our suppliers.
During a typical year we will then have our samples made up and either visit our trade customers individually, or take the samples to the fashion trade shows which usually take place in August/September, along with copies of our “Look Book” and colour charts. For those we don’t see in person, we send copies of the Look Book, and samples of the colours we have chosen.
Obviously 2020 has been an unusual year – not only because wedding guest numbers have been severely restricted, but also because there have been no physical trade shows so we have had to rely on the internet and virtual shows to predict fashion colours for 2021.
Orders are completed by the end of October, and then all these pieces are made and delivered to our trade customers by the end of February. Once received, it’s then back to us to deliver to our trade customers – often as a personal delivery since we love to get feedback, but also to see what outfits they are selling in their boutiques.
Our own shop customers haven’t been forgotten in this process. Liz has had her shop for almost 17 years and knows exactly what appeals to her own customers. We do have colours which stand the test of time – pale pinks, blues and creams are always popular for our Mums. We even have our own collection of special occasion wear, based on beautiful pastel colours which can be made to order.
Our mother of the bride or groom customers start to arrive at our shop from March onwards for summer weddings, particularly if the want a bespoke design or colour. We can make to order if we have a good 2-3 months’ notice. We can also make an outfit from our bespoke collection of made to measure mother of the bride/groom occasion wear.
However, we do have an enormous stock of ready-made hats, hatinators and fascinators, so either shop or trade customers can buy off the shelf. Liz loves to recall the time she had a mother of the bride turn up in tears on the day of the wedding, because she wasn’t happy with the hat she had bought elsewhere. We sent her away happy with her new hat!
COVID 19 has seriously affected our business, along with so many other companies involved in the wedding industry. Venues, wedding fashion, accessories, photographers, cars, entertainers and ancillary businesses worth around £10Billion to the UK economy.
But Simply Devine owns the building in which it operates, and is debt-free, so we know we will be in business when life – and weddings – return to normal. We look forward to seeing you again next year!