The Bridal Path

Hav­ing pi­o­neered on­line lux­ury shop­ping straight from the runway, Moda Operandi has launched a lu­cra­tive new aisle—for wed­ding dresses.

Forbes - - Entrepreneurs - By Clare O’CON­NOR

On the front wall of Moda Operandi’s oth­er­wise sleek, mod­ern, down­town-man­hat­tan ofce is a cast-iron din­ner bell with a rope pul­ley. When­ever the lux­ury on­line fash­ion re­tailer made a sale over $20,000, CEO Deb­o­rah Ni­code­mus would ring the bell to the cheers of staf at Moda, as the fve-year-old e-commerce op­er­a­tion is known.

But over the last 14 months Ni­code­mus watched the per­cent­age of $20,000-plus pur­chases—em­bel­lished gowns from Span­ish cou­turier Delpozo, for in­stance, or in one record-set­ting case, a $413,000 ruby neck­lace—climb from zero to more than 10% of Moda’s to­tal busi­ness. The bell now waits un­til a shop­per spends $50,000.

Soon enough, how­ever, even that fgure may prove too low. In 2015 Moda had $68 mil­lion in rev­enues, up from $46 mil­lion the year be­fore. By 2020, Ni­code­mus tells FORBES mat­ter-of­factly, the com­pany will take in $500 mil­lion. “We’re on track to do that,” she says. “We de­liver on our com­mit­ments. It’s not just a doc­u­ment. It’s not just a plan.”

Part of that plan in­cludes Moda’s frst bridal col­lec­tion, which launched last spring af­ter the team dis­cov­ered that eight of its best­selling gowns of 2014 had been white. Wed­ding dresses from sought-af­ter la­bels such as Monique Lhuil­lier and Naeem Khan can eas­ily cost more than $10,000 on their own, but add a pair of heels, a clutch and jewels and the or­der value sky­rock­ets for a bride’s big day. Moda can also take the process ofine by ofer­ing pri­vate ap­point­ments at its show­rooms in New York and Lon­don.

Moda Operandi launched in 2011 as the so­lu­tion to a frst-world prob­lem of the high­est or­der. The wealthy, thir­tysome­thing women who make

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