Brides and grooms of South Asian descent living in the U.S. no longer have to take a passage to India to find traditional wedding garb from that country, a trip that costs families time and money.
Instead, they can shop for all their wedding needs from the comfort of their own homes. That's the enticing hook behind Exclusively.In Weddings, a new micro site from Exclusively.In, which bills itself as the largest, online, Indian apparel retailer in the U.S., targeting the three million-strong Indian American community here.Launched last year, Exclusively.In is a "flash sale" or "private sale" site similar to Gilt Groupe. Private sale sites like Exclusively.In offer big discounts, usually for just 36 to 48 hours, on upscale merchandise in limited quantities. Exclusively.In offers up to 70% off high-end fashion from top Indian designers, as well as furnishings and travel experiences.
Unlike the rest of the site, the Exclusively.In Weddings micro site will operate as an online wedding boutique that offers most merchandise for 36 days, Kunal Merchant, director of marketing, told WalletPop. This longer buying period will help shoppers who may not want to snap up items immediately.
Because it's customary for South Asian couples and their families to travel to India on wedding shopping sprees, Exclusively.In Weddings' goal is to help families cut down on this huge expense -- one that helps make Indian weddings in the U.S. cost almost three times as much as other culture's U.S. weddings. Indeed, an average Indian wedding in the U.S. costs anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000 vs. approximately $26,000 for non-Indian weddings, Merchant says.
A flight to India alone can cost $1,000 per person; trips to that country to shop for the wedding often include not only the couple but family members as well, Merchant adds. And as India has become more affluent, consumer purchases have gotten more expensive, further jacking up costs. By contrast, prices on the site, Merchant says, are "extremely competitive."
In addition to travel costs, the price of outfitting the bride and groom and their wedding party can cost a small fortune. That's because Indian weddings are extravagant affairs that typically last several days, with multiple ceremonies and accompanying outfit changes that include intricately made saris that are often handcrafted and embellished with stones.
To outfit the bride and the bridal party, Exclusively.In Weddings features merchandise from upscale designers such as Ritu Kumar ("who is like the Vera Wang of India," says Merchant) in a mix of both traditional and modern garb, as well as American-influenced, fusion outfits.
On the site, saris and lenghas, often worn during the wedding ceremony and at the reception, range from about $400 to $2500. A recent visit to Exclusively.In Weddings turned up a Ritu Kumar bridal sale, including a maroon and orange paneled lengha set for $900 and a violet sari with a sequined blouse for $750.
Although Exclusively.In Weddings currently offers apparel, jewelry and outfits for brides, the bridal party and their families, the site plans to expand to include apparel for grooms. Also in the works: a free bridal consulting service that will be akin to a "luxury concierge experience," Merchant says.
While the site caters to Indian-born residents in the U.S. and second and third-generation Americans of Indian backgrounds, Merchant believes the site has the potential to attract a more diverse market. With Indian traditions and culture gaining more widespread appeal from such sources as the book and movie "Eat, Pray, Love" and stars like Katy Perry, who got married in India, more and more people are celebrating the culture, Merchant says. "It'll be interesting to see just who'll be shopping the site," he adds.
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