The Latin American market still shows a high percentage of wedding celebrations. According to the study Novias Millenial y Gen Z: El sector de la moda nupcial en 2023 (Millennial and Gen Z brides: The nuptial fashion sector in 2023), carried out by professor José L. Nueno and VBBFW in 2019 per request of Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week, the young population of marrying age, between 16 and 34, are mostly gathered in Asia and Latin America.
Also according to the aforementioned study, Latin America exhibits a heterogeneous wedding market, with countries like Mexico, Colombia or Peru having a positive demographic and economic forecast. However, Venezuela or Argentina are shrouded in doubt, fruit of their current political circumstances.
Changes in the social landscape
Even though a slight fall in the number of weddings is expected throughout the following years, fruit of a decrease in the ratio of weddings per inhabitant, the Latin American market still exhibits a high rate of weddings. In addition, an increase in the available capital is expected for couples of marrying age, which in turn makes their capacity to acquire mid to high end products raise as well.
In Mexico a total of 501.298 weddings took place during the year 2018 ¹, in Brazil 1.070.378 during 2017 ², in Argentina 11.630 during 2016 ³, in Panama 11.112 during 2018 4 and in Colombia, 56.973 during 2017 5 .
National production and import markets
An important fact to bear in mind is that, with the exception of Mexico, every country in the continent reveals lower numbers in dress production capacity than number of weddings. Therefore, we are looking at an import market.
Mexico positions itself as the main manufacturer of the region with 0.6 million dresses, which is about 47,5% of the total for South America. If this trend were to continue, in 2023 they could produce 0.8 million dresses. The two countries following them as manufacturers are Brazil and Colombia.
Even though Mexican demand has easy access to a great internal supply, this country is an interesting market for international manufacturers of bridal and party clothing. Mexico is the country with the highest growth forecast in Latin America, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR for short) of 6.2%. In addition, according to the study El Mercado de los Vestidos de Ceremonia en México, carried out by ICEX in 2017, a 12% of the Mexican populace wields great acquisitive power and also a growing mid to high class familiar with imported clothing. It is to this kind of consumer of all sorts of high end products to whom a great majority of the import of bridal fashion and wedding dresses is directed.
In terms of Mexican cities with the highest sales numbers, Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara top the charts.
It is noteworthy that the bridal industry in Panama and Brazil has also undergone a period of growth during the last few years. A growth of around 15% is expected for Brazil, taking into account the number of celebrations, the sales of wedding dresses and the allotted budget by the final consumer.
With an eye set on international designers
Even though the Latin market has renowned designer names, both buyers and final clients cannot help but look overseas for the latest trends. It is due to this fact the foremost bridal fashion stores keep an eye out for the dates of the sector’s leading fairs to find out first hand what the novelties for the next season will be.
Generally speaking, Latin American brides mostly resort to multibrands stores to choose their dress. For example, both in Mexico as well as Colombia or Panama they are the main purchase option. Argentina is an exception, with designers mostly being the ones with their own atelier or showroom.
Flagships are also an interesting option for international brands. Opening the doors to your own shop on one of the most emblematic streets in important cities is a great business opportunity.
As for Mexico, one could also consider the option of entering their bridal and celebration market through department stores. Saks Fifth Avenue, present in Polanco and Santa Fe, is a clear example. Palacio de Hierro, located in a prestigious neighborhood in Polanco, Mexico City, is another relevant department store, which exclusively offers dresses by Rosa Clará.
A bride’s investment in her dress
The class difference in Latin America is apparent, therefore each bride’s budget is determined by the acquisitive power of her family. Taking into account high-mid and high class weddings, it is safe to say a bride in Panama spends between 4.500€ and 9.000€ on her dress. In the same way, the range in Brazil is slightly wider, between 4.000 and 15.000€, while in Argentina it drops to 1.300€.
As for Mexico, it is hard to outline a price range, as weddings go from the simplest to weddings destination, where the Mexican couples celebrate their marriage far from where they live: another province, another country…
New market options
Aside from weddings, various South American countries have other social events where it is usual to set aside an important budget for clothing not dissimilar to bridal fashion. For example, when teenagers turn 15 years old there is a grand celebration that symbolizes a girl’s presentation to society, in which they wear a dress similar to wedding ones, generally in pastel tones. It is also usual in exclusive schools to host graduation events where girls wear party dresses.
In Panama, it is traditional to celebrate the Festival de Debutantes, an event where the young girls, who must be over 17, wear a bridal dress without a train. White is the mandatory color.
We must also bear in mind the high presence of the Jewish community in Latin America, especially in Brazil, which is why aside from this social presentation event we must account for the Bat Mitzvah, celebrated with a large party when girls turn 12 or 13 years old.
1. The Latin American market exhibits important economic opportunities for the bridal sector, due to its nature as an import market.
2. Latin American brides prefer international designers.
3. In Latin America, fashion tied to social presentation events offers business opportunities besides weddings.
Information Sources: Vicky Lujan, Bridal Expert, Bridal Fashion Journalist & Stylist and Romance Travel Specialist; Sary Chaki, owner of Sary Chaki Event Planning in Colombia; Guadalupe Pérez, owner of Gaudí Novias in Panamá; Roberto Cohen founder of Roberto Cohen Ceremonial in Brazil; Cynthia Grajales, Fashion Stylist, image consultant and owner of Bridetique, in Mexico; Iván Meza, Vice President of the Marketing and Sales agency Group 868 in NY and Verónica Barzi, owner of the magazine Fiancée Argentina online.*
1. Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography
2. Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.
3.National Institute of Statistics and Censuses.
4. Panama National Institute of Statistics and Censuses