The wedding business is a multi-billion dollar industry and wedding dresses are perhaps the greatest investment piece from the day when a couple decide to say, “I do.” We toured the East Bay’s premier couture wedding dress store, Kinsley James in Walnut Creek, to get details on this industry that is kicking off its busy season right now as spring and summer weddings are on the horizon. Founded by two sisters-in-law, Dawn Silva Rigney and Amber Silva, their store has become a must-visit spot in the Bay Area, and beyond, with several brides-to-be flying in from all over the country to try on the exclusive dress lines they carry. Come see images from their gorgeous store, learn which designer they say is the current rising star, and what top three wedding dress trends they are seeing!
24 East: How is KJ unique in this area?
Dawn Silva Rigney: Kinsley James is not only unique in the East Bay, but in the San Francisco Bay Area. What sets us apart is our love for our customers and the level of service that is provided. We really want every bride to have that perfect experience while trying on gowns. We serve mimosas and champagne upon arrival, we have very large private fitting rooms, and tall open floor to ceiling windows making the natural light perfect for viewing the gowns. We also have exclusivity with many of our designers regionally or, in some cases, all of California.
24E: How has the bridal dress industry changed in the past couple of years?
Amber Silva: The bridal industry has changed dramatically in the past couple of years. With the rise of social media, brides now have access to view gowns from designers around the world. Brides have a clearer vision of their personal style and the gowns they want to try on. It is our job to bring the designers from other countries to our salon so that brides are able to try them on.
24E: How does social media affect bridal trends and spending?
Dawn Silva Rigney: I wouldn’t say that social media affects a bride’s budget; everyone allocates and prioritizes their budgets differently and according to what is best for them. However, social media has really impacted trends. Brides have always wanted to be unique, but now more than ever with access to so many more gown ideas. With the help of Instagram, Israeli and Australian designers have really become the hottest trend.
Gown by Idan Cohen; Photo Credit: Dudi Hasson.
24E: What are the three top wedding dress trends you are seeing right now?
1. Sexy gowns- sheer cut-outs, illusion netting, low backs, demi cups, form fit to the body
2. Plunging Necklines- this even goes for the more conservative designers. We are seeing super low necklines in all styles and shapes of wedding gowns.
3. Sleeves- they really haven’t gone anywhere since Kate Middleton made them famous, but we have seen them evolve. The long, full lace sleeve is not what is in right now. Instead we are seeing sheer net sleeves with lace appliqués decorating the arm. Flutter sleeves have also been coming in to style!
24E: What do most people not realize about the bridal business?
Amber Silva: Something that may not be well known is that for high end bridal, stores do not have the option to pick up any designer they want. If another store carries that designer, then usually there is exclusivity for that store for a certain mile radius. For us, that means the Bay Area in total for many of our designers. Another step to that is that a good relationship needs to be formed. Usually in person meetings and lots of conversations take place beforehand to make sure that both sides are equally as excited to be working together!
24E: What was the motivation behind recently opening an LA store?
Dawn Silva Rigney: We have a lot of brides who fly up from LA to shop in our store, and we feel that there is a level of service missing in the LA area and that our designers are not represented down there. We are excited to take the KJ experience to the Los Angeles bride! [for a fun video on opening their West Hollywood store, go here]
Image via Liancarlo
24E: What new designer do you have your eye on?
Amber Silva: Currently, the rising star is Pallas Couture out of Australia. We are lucky to have them at Kinsley James Walnut Creek and Kinsley James Los Angeles. The gowns have unique details, and so much work goes into making each couture gown. Audrina Patridge was just married in Pallas Couture!
24E: Where is your favorite East Bay place for a wedding?
Dawn Silva Rigney: Oo that’s a tough one! We have so many favorite venues, it’s hard to pick just one! A few that come to mind are The Claremont, Concannon Vineyards, The Lighthouse at Glen Cove, and Hacienda de las Flores.
For more on Kinsley James, go here.
Images c/o Kinsley James by Colson Griffith Photography.