By Jeff Nelson
Watters is celebrating its 25th year in the bridal business. Since opening in June 1986, the Dallas-based company has expanded into an international brand. It now offers seven lines of bridal, bridesmaid, flower girl, and mother-of-the-bride gowns across the globe—from Atlanta to Australia. A lot can change in a quarter-century, but with Watters, a few things haven’t: simple style, trendsetting, and a sincere business strategy. These constants have helped Watters become a heavyweight in the wedding world today.
“There’s always something about our gowns that has a special point of view. People can tell that it’s a Watters gown,” says president and CEO Vatana Watters. “Not even knowing that’s the label, they can pull it out of the rack in the store. That’s what we hope to achieve.” Watters has trademarked on modern-traditional elegance, employing classic silhouettes, cloth, and construction.
“Other designers go extreme on one end or the other in terms of trends,” says sales consultant Faith Owen of Rush’s Bridal. “Watters has stayed very classic-looking and on the simple side, which is a little more timeless than the trendy fashions—that’s what’s kept them relevant.”
Adds Carolyn Taylor, a buyer and merchandiser at The Wedding Shoppe, “It’s the little extra things that make the collection stronger, a little something to make the dresses special.” Some of those elements are trends that Watters led—like adding accessories and small (but significant) details.
“We always do a twist on everything,” Watters says. “Now it’s becoming so big where it’s not just the girl picking out her gown—it’s her picking out her sashes and belts to personalize the look.”
Another trend she helped spark is the all-important wear-ability factor of bridesmaid dresses: Watters gowns have a more generous size range and come in a range of flattering hues. “They don’t look like the typical ‘bridesmaid’ style,” Owen notes. “They’re definitely re-wearable; the fabrics they use and the styles they offer are really cute."
Much of the brand’s success can be attributed to the designs themselves; however, Watters gives ample credit her colleagues. “Our company is full of spirited, passionate people, and that’s what has defined us,” she says. “You spend so much time together that you want to work with people that enlighten you. It’s a much more enjoyable process when you have a great team to work with. And that’s one of my most prized things I have going here—I really love the people that I work with.”
Click here for a complete list of local Watters vendors.