Hello COUTURE followers!

Today we want to share a very informative personal interview with The International Bridal Manufacturers Association (IBMA) with our readers.  The IBMA is a trade association that represents all facets of the bridal industry urging customers to stop buying online, due to raising Internet counterfeit scams, and instead buy their garments in retail shops.  Read on to learn more about the IBMA and their important place at COUTURE: Los Angeles Bridal Market.  

This is our first COUTURE show on the West Coast! What are your thoughts about that?

We think it's great that West Coast retailers will have an opportunity to support a show outside of Las Vegas. The Los Angeles show will allow retailers to touch and feel the product they buy and the earlier dates afford West Coast retailers much earlier delivery. It’s a great opportunity for everyone involved, and we are delighted that after 3 years of urging The Knot, and XO communication that they are launching this show.

What do you feel The Knot's first Los Angeles Couture show means for the West Coast bridal salons?

A Los Angeles show is a perfect venue for the retailers to show their support to manufacturers and their participation will make this show viable.  This show can insure that retailers buy the right dresses for their brides from live samples, which many have been unable to do for years. The travel expenses for the Salons and Manufacturers representatives on the West Coast have been, and hopefully in the future will be, dramatically reduced. The show has the potential to be a win/win for everyone, and with no competition from the casinos, the event should be very busy on both buying days.

Why are you excited about this Couture show?

It's going to be great for our member manufacturers to meet so many of their customers who have supported the industry, but worked exclusively with Road representatives the past few years. Hopefully the attendance will be strong and profitable for everyone.

What can your West Coast stores expect at Couture LA from IBMA?

We are a manufacturers organization so we are hopeful to be able to create networking opportunities among our members and perhaps some other alternative concepts to retailers who appreciate buying early.  We are offering shuttle bus services between the Hotels and the venue, and we hope to do the same for the two New York shows. We will be trying to recruit retailers to give us ammunition in our consumer awareness program regarding counterfeiting.  As our focus is working with manufacturers, we are happy to field any suggestions from retailers regarding industry improvements, and directing those suggestions to our members.

In what ways do you feel Los Angeles will be different or similar from The Knot's New York Couture shows?

We feel it's going to represent a more mixed and balanced retail crowd with much greater diversity in price points and most certainly a West Coast clientele, which has been almost invisible at the New York and Chicago shows.

It is so important for the West Coast Bridal Retailers to come to this show, to support the event, and to make it clear to the Manufacturers and The Industry that they want a show on the West Coast and make sure to comment about the venue and how it can be improved.
— Hedy Lapkin, Executive Director, IBMA

Can you talk a little bit about counterfeiting in the bridal industry?

Counterfeiting is a huge problem, but there are not any accurate figures that are out there to really put a dollar value, or unit value on our industry losses. Prom and social occasion and all colored goods have been affected more than Bridal Gowns at this stage. With so many legitimate Internet sellers out there, the Counterfeiters seem to fit right in until an unaware consumer gets a poor fitting, and/or poorly made garment. Retailers know they service brides and social occasion customers, but they aren't closing as many sales and just do not know who does service those customers. Often the consumers are too embarrassed to even tell the horror story about their online experience. The ABPIA has taken legal action which we have supported financially, and they are also seeking political solutions. The IBMA, working with National Trade shows and Bridal service providers, are trying to get the horror stories to the Bride, her attendants and social occasion customers. Unfortunately, the retailers, the only link to consumers haven’t communicated with IBMA or service providers about those ripped off brides and consumers, who are coming in, to have their dresses altered at huge alteration expense, or to simply discard the dress and buy a new one from a reputable salon because they have been burned by a counterfeiter. We have been working on a Bridal Beware site, bridalbeware.com, to try to educate brides about the perils and pitfalls of buying online. Targeting stories and editorials about the Internet sellers who are not authorized dealers, and who are selling inferior products while misrepresenting that the goods are from branded legitimate manufacturers has been a focus of the bridalbeware.com site.

What does IBMA do for the industry specifically to help issues such as counterfeit?

It’s an ongoing situation, because it's been very difficult to get the horror stories up the food chain and get them distributed to unsuspecting consumers. We know that getting these horror stories of consumers who are being ripped off to the public will be one of the best ways to combat the counterfeiting issues which results in lost revenue for all the members of the industry.  

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