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Catalonia leads Spain in wedding dress exports

The wedding fashion industry has reached a benchmark at a global scale. In terms of exports, Spain is only behind China, making 755,000 wedding dresses and earning 507 million euros per year. The bridal business has a total turnover of nearly 13% of the whole Spanish textile sector and the most important part of this comes from Catalonia, which concentrates more than 40% of production. One of the reasons for this is that Catalonia is the home of huge firms such as Pronovias or Rosa Clará, as well as the already established Jesús Peiró or YolanCris brands.

20 May 2017 10:40 AM

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ACN / Gemma Garrido

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Barcelona (ACN).- The wedding fashion industry has reached a benchmark at a global scale. In terms of exports, Spain is only behind China, making 755,000 wedding dresses and earning 507 million euros per year. The bridal business has a total turnover of nearly 13% of the whole Spanish textile sector and the most important part of this comes from Catalonia, which concentrates more than 40% of production. One of the reasons for this is that Catalonia is the home of huge firms such as Pronovias or Rosa Clará, as well as the already established Jesús Peiró or YolanCris brands. 


In less than a decade, Spain has emerged as one of the heavyweights in the wedding dress industry. In fact, it has become the top designer and manufacturing power at European level and the second exporter in the world, only surpassed by the Asian giant but exceeding the United States. Regarding these figures, there is an important thing to take into account: while China mass-produces, Spain designs in the prêt-à-couture style, a mix of custom and pattern-based designs.

According to the Centre of Information about the Textile and Clothing Industry (CITYC), a non-profit statistical organization, of the 700 million euros billed revenues, 70% corresponds to bridal dresses and accessories, which means 504 million euros of the textile industry. In addition, the wedding dress business involve more than 700 companies, which employs about 14,000 workers (both the large companies and the workshops), and has an aggregate turnover of around 1,300 million euros per year.

Each year, 755,000 wedding dresses are made in the State. Spanish bridal fashion has become an international reference point: European countries are the main customers (77%), although the market is rising in countries of the Asia-Pacific Region (10%), the United States (5%), Latin America (7%) and the Middle East (1%). 

That said, what makes the ‘Made in Spain’ bridal’s fashion industry rich is Catalonia. Around 42% of market share, which implies 317,100 dresses, corresponds to Catalonia, making Barcelona the European Bridal Fashion Capital. However, that all eyes are on Barcelona when it comes to the textile industry is nothing new. 

A Catalan bright future

The 19th century Spanish Industrial Revolution was concentrated in two areas: the Basque Country and Catalonia. When most of the Spanish territory was still agrarian, Catalonia created an important textile industry, in particular, with cotton and printed linen fabric. Barcelona has a long tradition of textile manufacturing that, over the years, has been attracting  international attention. 

Nowadays, Catalonia is at the epicenter of the most powerful and global wedding dress firms. Thanks to their production, the Spanish bridal sector output exceeds domestic demand, being the only country of the so-called Western states whose production is worth 1,3 billion euros, according to the executive summary ‘Millennial Brides’, written by José Luis Nueno, of IESE Business School.

A clear illustration of Barcelona as the World’s Bridal Capital is Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week. After twenty-seven editions, the BBFW is being consolidated as the center of the  worldwide nuptial business. The 2017 event has included more than 25,000 bridal dresses, from Catalan firms like Pronovias, Rosa Clará or Jordi Dalmau, to international designers, such as the Venezuelan Ángel Sánchez, the American Demetrios or the Italian Alessandra Rinaudo. 

The finishing touch comes from the fashion models that walked the show. Victoria’s Secret angels such as Romee Strijd, Martha Hunt, Bregje Heinen and Cindy Bruna hit the catwalk for Pronovias, top model Karolina Kurkova for Studio St. Patricks and Mariana Downing for Rosa Clará. Concurrently, the trade fair at Hospitalet de Llobregat offered 300 brands, 195 of which are from 25 different countries. 

Quality brands

It is estimated that one in ten brides worldwide chooses a Spanish firm to wear on her wedding day. Rosa Clará, one of the most international and well-known brands, defends that the Spanish wedding dress secret is that they stay ahead in quality, while China and the US lead in quantity”. 

In 2016, Italy is still the Catalan bridal industry’s major client, receiving 19.8% of the exports. The second position is held by France, with 15.8%, followed by Germany (10.2%), Portugal (6.6%) and the United Kingdom (5.4%). From these five countries alone there is 57.8% out of the total in 2016, according to Catalan government information. Further, the Moroccan market is sixth, with 3.8% and an increase in 14.6%. But apart from the main customers, the 2016 numbers show impressive growth in exports to Russia (+25.1%), Mexico (+23.6%), the US (20.9%) and Romania (+34%).

As can be seen, most of the State’s exports are Catalan: last year, 37.06% came from Catalonia, which means a total of 256,018 million euros in wedding and celebration dresses and accessories. Bridal dresses make up almost 80% of exportations, a total of of 196.187 million euros.

The characteristics of Catalan designs include creative designers, which always look for avant-garde patterns but keep up with traditional customs. Dresses are manufactured using only the finest materials with respect for small details. 

Pronovias and Rosa Clarà lead the way 

The undisputed leader in the bridal fashion sector is Pronovias. This firm was established in Barcelona in 1922 by the Turkish merchant Alberto Palatchi Bienveniste. From the start, Palatchi offered assortments of fabrics to wealthy families, pretending he was Swiss to gain their trust. However, it was not until 1964 that Palatchi and his son, Alberto Palatchi Ribera, opened the first Pronovias (then Saint Patrick) as it is known today. Pronovias has 164 stores in 105 countries and more than 4,000 points of sale. Its benefits reach 160 million euros and it is the leading company in the bridal sector, although David’s Bridal, which dresses 60% of US brides, is still a rival.

The Institute of Technological Textiles categorizes Pronovias as a bridal prêt-à-porter pioneer and a group with a clear international intention. Their target is women aged between 20 and 40 years old, with different economic levels, which is evident from the prices: the cheapest dresses are sold for 600 euros, and the most expensive, 14,000 euros. Some company brands are Elie by Elie Saab, Saint Patrick and La Sposa.

Rosa Clará holds the silver medal in turnover: with 150 stores, it has a sales volume of about 50 million euros. Rosa Clará i Pallarès inaugurated her first store in 1995 on Barcelona's Passeig de Gracia and since then she has 2,200 points of sale in 60 countries. The Rosa Clará firm has headquarters in New Jersey, Mexico and Brazil that act as subsidiaries in logistics and transaction activities, and is the firm that has expanded the most internationally, according to the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX).

ITT describes Rosa Clará's style as fresh and elegant, with a price range of between 1,600 and 4,000 euros. So, it is a luxury bridal fashion brand with a clear target: women fully incorporated in the labor world. Other brands that are part of the firm are Aire Barcelona, Jesús del Pozo and Alma Novias.

Cutting-edge designs

While Pronovias and Rosa Clará have their own ‘White War’, there are smaller Catalan firms that are fighting to find a space to highlight their talent. A few examples are Jesús Peiro, which was born almost 30 years ago and has a turnover of 4 million euros, and Yolancris, a family brand, in this case created by two sisters called Yolanda and Cristina, that gave the name to the firm. 

Yolancris’ annual sales are over three million euros, 70% of which come from exports. Markets that buy the most are Italy, the US, the Emirates and Brazil. Its International Sales and Operations Manager, Jesús Samaniego, considers that the Spanish bridal dress attracts attention because of the European design and innovative techniques. “YolanCris offers exceptional fashion for special events and even when their dresses are expensive (over 3,000 euros), they do not reach haute-couture prices,” explains Samaniego. 

The firm has two customers that fit perfectly with their two collections. The boho chic line is represented by transparencies, laces and texture mixes, so the main target is young women, with a soft style. As far as the Costura line is concerned, conservative women with a bold attitude are their objective. Their designs include voluminous skirts and long trains that are full of jewels. The main successes of the firm have been dressing Lady Gaga for the annual Victoria’s Secret show or designing the bridesmaides outfit for the Kim Kardashian and Kanye West wedding. 

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  • Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week 2017 (by BBFW)