Founder and Creative Director, Megan Ziems, said when the company started discussing launching to a new country, it knew Canada was ‘the one’.
“Canadians and Aussies have such a similar style. We are no fuss, laid-back and adventurous, who value good quality product and design. We receive around 100 enquiries a month from our Canadian brides-to-be wanting to see, touch and try on their dream Grace gown – so the launch in Toronto was a no brainer for us. With the Canada and US border closed since early 2020, our Canadian brides-to-be haven’t had a chance to experience the full Grace experience. So, we decided to bring it to them,” she said.
“We felt drawn to Toronto because of the city’s connection to arts, culture and creativity. Renowned for its new ideas, new experiences and new designs, we knew Toronto was the perfect location for the first Grace Canadian showroom. When it came to finding an official home in Toronto, we couldn’t look past the Distillery District. The one-of-a-kind boutiques, galleries and restaurants are filled with creativity and inspiration, just like the Grace showroom experience. Women can enjoy their complimentary appointment with us, followed by a special treat or lunch at one of the restaurants nearby. It’s about making their bridal shopping trip a destination experience and a day to remember.”
“We’ve always been passionate about scouting locations that deliver an unparalleled city experience to our customers and their family and friends, and the Toronto showroom will deliver that in spades.”
The Toronto location will be at 39 Parliament Street with an opening date expected in the latter part of August. The company has 16 showrooms in Australia, the UK and the US.
“The Distillery Historic District is very excited to welcome the Canadian debut of Grace Loves Lace,” said Elena Price, General Manager of The Distillery District. “This is a perfect marriage between a luxurious and sophisticated bridal boutique offering handcrafted gowns and The Distillery District — one of the most popular wedding venues in the Greater Toronto Area. We are a beloved host to weddings and bridal photography, and soon brides will also be able to shop here for their special wedding gowns in Grace’s signature showrooms.”
Ziems said the Toronto showroom will be housed in a glass atrium – the first of its kind for the brand – and much like the District itself, the company’s newest showroom is a space where something old meets something new.
“Staying true to the District’s blend of industrial architecture and stunning 21st Century design, our Toronto showroom is warm and inviting, complete with a dramatic high ceiling, stunning bougainvillea, and beautiful natural light. It’s very important to us that our Canadian guests feel as though they’re arriving ‘home’ and being greeted by an old friend, rather than walking into a traditional bridal boutique,” she said.
“One of our largest showrooms globally, every bride is allocated a private space that is filled with warm tones, textured rugs and gold accents. The showroom – which is 3,178 square feet – has a modern, coastal bohemian aesthetic that will really resonate with Canadian brides. Designed to feel like an extension of my home, guests are made to feel comfortable, at ease and relaxed during their appointment.
“We created the appointment experience by asking ourselves what we would really want from an appointment if we were the bride. We’d want to take photos, try on multiple gowns, sip bubblies and not pay for an appointment. So that’s what we offer, and it sets us apart from our competitors. For us, it’s always been about making every bride’s experience a destination experience and a day to remember.”
“The complimentary, 1:1 appointment allows our brides to settle into the space and feel comfortable trying on an array of gowns, in a no pressure sales environment. Our friendly and down to earth stylists understand how stressful the wedding dress shopping experience can be, which is why they have been exceptionally trained to help with all styling needs. At the end of the day, it’s about ensuring our brides are offered a best-in-class service experience from start to finish and that they walk away feeling inspired, confident and empowered.”
Ziems said the company is on track to deliver another eight showrooms by September 2022, but did not say where they would be located. The Toronto store will be the eighth Grace space to open worldwide since January 2020.
She started Grace 10 years ago when she was searching for her own wedding gown. At the time, the market was dominated with dresses that were traditional, restrictive, structured and overpriced.
“I needed a gown that had personality, told my story and was designed with passion, movement and luxury in mind. So, I set out to revolutionize how gowns were designed and sold, liberating women from the traditional bridal shopping experience through an innovative e-commerce model,” explained Ziems.
“Fast forward to today, we’ve expanded our network of showrooms globally, but our design principles remain the same. Our gowns are still ethically made in Australia in our own studio in Burleigh Heads, and we employ a versatile and innovative approach to fabrics and patterns, including the use of luxurious stretch fabrics for an easy and effortless fit. We also exclusively sell through our own channels so we can provide the tailored bridal experience our customers have come to expect and deserve.”
She said Grace is the largest direct-to-consumer independent bridal brand globally and it has disrupted a stale industry to fill a gap in the market for high quality, made to order wedding gowns at an accessible price point.
All of its gowns are designed and ethically made in Australia and its signature aesthetic has always been luxury you can dance in, she added.
“Our gowns cater to the relaxed, laid-back bride as they are handmade with lightweight fabrics with no restrictive elements like zips, boning or heavy materials. What really sets us apart from our competitors is our unique showroom experience. In many ways, it’s all about creating a truly Australian vibe – laid-back living at its finest,” explained Ziems.
“We don’t charge for appointments, we encourage brides to take as many photos as they want in our gowns and we focus on experience, not the hard sell. Our appointments are personalized, comfortable and stress-free – allowing brides to really enjoy the moment with loved ones. We truly feel that our unique showroom experience has amplified our success and allowed us to expand our global footprint.
“The passion and soul we infuse in everything we do is very much inspired by our customer. With all design, development and production managed in-house, we are nimble and able to respond to our customers at a rapid pace which many of our competitors who manufacture offshore are unable to do. We listen, observe and adapt based on feedback online and in all of our showrooms which has – and always will be – a crucial part of our design process. We have always designed for The Woman – not the ‘bride’. Our customer really values authenticity and innovation. We create gowns that make you feel something, they don’t just look nice.”
The company says it continues to experience rapid business growth and increased customer demand, delivering a 35 per cent increase in sales in the last financial year ending June 30.
“During COVID, we received hundreds of enquiries from desperate brides-to-be whose wedding dresses were being held in offshore factories throughout Asia. Being Australian-made, we were fortunate that we were able to continue production and deliver to brides unaffected during the global pandemic. We also saw such a huge trend of elopements and micro weddings across the globe in 2020 which our relaxed and comfortable lace and silk gowns are perfect for,” said Ziems.
“Being a digital-first business, we were also able to lean on our already established virtual appointment experience – an offering that’s been around since the brand’s inception almost 10 years ago – to further amplify the customer experience during COVID. Our passionate and skillful team of stylists offer a personalized consultation to support brides-to-be in selecting and styling their wedding outfits, all from the comfort of their own homes. Luckily for us, the gown was still seen as an essential item for COVID weddings and as such, we saw a 100 per cent sales increase via our online channel year over year.”
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