It's not everyday we get to pick the brain of the owner of a celebrated bridal fashion institution like Kleinfeld, but when BRIDES sat down with owner Mara Urshel, we were fascinated by her story!
From fun facts on Kleinfeld's roots, to what goes on behind the scenes (and even what makes the celebrated retailer tick), we've got the scoop on often-unknown Kleinfeld factoids - even a few that have never been revealed on their hit show, Say Yes to the Dress!
So read on for our Q&A with Mara to learn more about what goes on beyond the "seams" of New York City's famous bridal fashion mecca.
1. Kleinfeld originally opened as a fur salon in Brooklyn in 1941.
Kleinfeld began as a Bay Ridge-based fur salon and slowly transitioned to a bridal salon, well before moving to Manhattan in 2005. While Kleinfeld now caters to more than 17,000 brides a year, Mara still makes sure that every Kleinfeld bride receives the owners' cell phone numbers. "At Kleinfeld, the staff works diligently to ensure that the customer feels that she is the only bride in the store," notes Mara. "Every step of the way, the bride receives personal one-on-one attention from a personal bridal consultant to her fitter who she will work with for the next few weeks until the gown fits perfectly! Ronnie and I give our cell phone numbers so brides feel they can reach us at any time, day and night."
2. Kleinfeld carries over 200 exclusive gowns that cannot be found anywhere else.
"We are constantly searching the world to seek out designers to add to our merchandising mix," says Mara. "We stay ahead of the trends and since we shop the world, we actually receive new styles every day that no one else has."
3. Yes, you heard us correctly! They get new dresses (literally!) every day.
"In order to be the leader in gown selection, we refresh the stock often and are always on the hunt for new upcoming designers," says Mara. "Kleinfeld travels across the world to various bridal markets through the year; each gown we order arrives from different markets at different times of the year. We make room for new gowns and rotate our stock regularly by holding sample sales four times a year. Our next sale is May 5th!"Toronto Star 2014
4. And their plus size assortment is extraordinary!
"Since we meet brides from all over the world in various sizes, it is very important that we have samples that they can try on and feel comfortable in," Mara says. "Kleinfeld carries the largest selection of plus size designer bridal gown samples. Brides no longer have to hold the gown in front of them; they can actually zip it up." They are sampled is plus sizes 16-28.
5. The Kleinfeld alterations department is a true artisanal operation!
Kleinfeld has an artisan alterations department - the biggest in NYC with over 90 seamstresses and fitters, each of whom spend over 30 hours altering your dress! They also have the largest custom sewing workroom in the tri-state area accommodating more than 90 seamstresses, beaders, pressers and fitters. "Brides will wear their dress day and night so the gown needs to be properly fitted to your body to ensure you will feel comfortable and confident the entire wedding," explains Mara. "The Kleinfeld alteration department has a quality control process in place to ensure the gown is fitted properly and that the beading and bustle are secure."
6. Kleinfeld even sells wedding invitations.
"The timing of ordering save the dates and invitations matches with the time line of selecting a bridal gown," explains Mara. At the request of their brides, the store offers a shop-by-style assortment of exclusive save the dates, shower invites, wedding invites, response cards, and even menus.2015 Getty Images
7. They also tackle the (non-wedding dress) planning tasks you groan over!
With the success of Kleinfeld Paper, Mara and team realized that brides trusted them for all aspects of the wedding planning process, so they branched out to offer further support - even on planning elements that aren't so fashionably glamorous, like room blocks and your name change! "Kleinfeld Room Blocks takes the stress out searching and negotiating with hotels near your wedding venue for your guests and saves you up to 30 percent off," she exclaims. "And Kleinfeld Name Change makes the grueling process of changing your name, easy. Newlyweds just fill out the online form and we will send you personalized name change forms with step-by-step instructions and pre-paid addressed envelopes."
8. And they want to stick with you well beyond the wedding.
With a fan and customer base that truly loves the brand, Kleinfeld has quickly noticed that many of their brides cannot part with them after the wedding! So they've just partnered with an amazingly fresh social party-planning app called Partyology, to help their fans plan and share other life celebrations, such as baby showers, milestone birthdays and more! Kleinfeld is a leading tastemaker on the hip Partyology site.