By MIKE CHAIKEN
Recognition of the need for diversity in the wedding industry has been one of the side effects of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a webinar held by Love Stories TV during its virtual Bridal Fashion Month, the women behind several bridal publications that cater to a Black and Latinx market said BLM has confirmed what they knew all along. People of color are a valuable segment of the bridal market.
“Representation matters,” said Juliette Dallas Feeney of Love Stories TV. “Love doesn’t have one particular style of look.”
When Myrdith Leon-McCormack launched World Bride magazine two decades ago, the entrepreneur said there was a dearth of Black women in the industry or represented in the pages of magazines. So when World Bride was launched, its mere existence generated a buzz.
Due to the BLM movement, said Leon-McCormack, “I think we got a little more traction.
Now, said Leon-McCormack, “Diversity and inclusivity are a trend… People feel loved, like they matter now.”
“Now we make sense,” said Leon-McCormack. “Twenty-two years ago, no one was ready for this.”
“I feel that we are more accepted,” said Mary Chatman, editor-in-chief of Black Bride magazine. “It’s not necessarily because of BLM but people are accepting us more… I see people wanting to partner with us.”
Historically, the bridal industry overlooked the Black community, said Leon-McCormack.
There was a myth that Black women didn’t get married or have children, said Leon-McCormack. Additionally, she said, there was a myth that Black men didn’t want to get married.
The industry discounted the fact that Black women and men do get married, and they often marry well, choosing long lasting relationships.
“It excites me to see us celebrating that,” said Leon-McCormack.
The industry also didn’t acknowledge that Black women want beautiful bridal fashions and they want to see the garments on someone who looks like them, said Chatman.
“Black is being more accepted, but there is a long road ahead,” said Chatman. “We need these platforms like World Bride and Belle (a virtual magazine that caters to the Latinx community) that show all women are beautiful… Black is beautiful.”
“I see us embracing this and I love that,” said Chatman.
The speakers also acknowledged that even as publishers of magazines that serve diversity, they need to continue to expand the definition of diversity.
“Our goal is not to exclude anybody,” said Leon-McCormack.
Belle the Magazine is based in Texas where it was founded by Alejandra Baca-Rodriguez to serve the Mexican community. Due to its origins, Belle had always been about diversity, said Baca-Rodriguez. But the diversity was more due to happenstance.
With the increasing recognition that diversity is necessary – not just in the bridal industry but everywhere — Baca-Rodriguez said Belle is being more intentional about how it promotes diversity. This includes how it develops editorial content and how it encourages its business partners to foster and serve the needs of a diverse base.
“Now, there is a plan (to celebrate diversity)… We don’t leave it up to chance,” said Baca-Rodriguez.
Although Black Lives Matter wasn’t intended to help the Latinx community, Baca-Rodriguez said it has been a beneficiary of the movement.
“I feel I got permission to be who I am,” said Baca-Rodriguez. “I’m a Latina and I’m super proud to be Latina… I don’t look like other editors, but that’s okay.”