10 Questions with Style Director Sydney Watters Dunbar of Watters
1) How are you related to Vatana?
I am her only daughter!
2) When did you decide you want to work for your mother?
I decided to join the family business upon graduating from college in 2017. Growing up I was always around the studio – I got to see dresses being made, photoshoots going on, and the ins and outs of Dallas Market. I’ve always been interested in the Watters business, so it was natural next step.
3) What new perspective are you bringing to the Watters brand that was not there before?
While I am similar to my mother in many ways, our tastes in fashion and in bridal are quite different. However, one thing that sets Watters apart is that we are a very collaborative team who is welcoming of all kinds of perspectives and ideas. The variety of different styles and tastes is what helps us create such captivating gowns.
4) What is your job role?
As Style Director, I have a lot of flexibility and breadth in my role. I have spent time in almost every department to better understand the overall business and see how each team contributes to the company. Setting the overall style and tone for each Watters brand has been a major focus. We want brides to know how much care we put into everything from the initial sketch to the finished product and packaging.
5) How is the 30 year brand staying relevant to the ever - changing bridal industry?
It's all about taking the very traditional bridal industry and making it more modern so we can reach today’s bride. I like to play devil’s advocate and ask, can we try this in a new and different way? I like to explore different colorways, unexpected laces, and new takes on classic silhouettes. My generation is all about experiences, so we are constantly brainstorming ideas on how we can create a more experiential way to shop and have special moments for brides to connect with our brands.
6) Describe the different lines offered by Watters.
At Watters we have three distinct brands: Watters, Wtoo by Watters and Willowby by Watters. Watters is the flagship brand. We love creating classic gowns with imaginative touches for the Watters bride. A lot of love and hard work goes into developing new constructions, finding new materials, and nailing down the inspiration for this line. In the Wtoo collection there’s something for everyone. Our goal is for this brand to be accessible and inclusive. Brides will find Wtoo gowns range in size from 00 to 32. You’ll be able to find gowns that hit all the bridal trends and more traditional gowns you’ve been dreaming about forever. The most recent brand that was added to the Watters family is Willowby. Willowby celebrates a bride’s individuality. This collection is perfect for the bride with a case of wanderlust that is looking for a gown that’s a little more outside of the box. You really have to see the dresses to understand how unique they truly are.
7) How important is the creative imaging of these different lines?
We put a huge importance on the creative imaging for each of our lines. Having three separate and very distinct lines makes it imperative to differentiate the creative imaging. We like to put on our Watters, Wtoo, and Willowby hats and think of styling and shoot locations that a real bride would love. From there we like to kick it up a notch, and make it a little more daring, make it a fantasy. We like to invoke a sense of wonder in brides. Maybe they too would like to try some of our unexpected and unique styling options on their wedding day.
8) What is you’re feeling about purchasing a wedding dress online from a certified retailer versus in store? Do you think we need both?
We absolutely need both. Today’s brides are discovering things in different ways. They are looking for different types of experiences in their search for the perfect wedding gown. Some brides have been dreaming of the moment when they find the perfect dress surrounded by people they love. On the other hand, there are also many brides who want to order a gown online with quick shipping, so they can pack it in their suitcase and go! It’s important to have a channel for both types of brides to find a gown at their convenience.
9) How many markets does the Watters brand attend?
We typically do 5 US launches, 2 press shows in New York City, and 5 international launches.
10) How do you see the future of the bridal industry?
Bridal was once steeped in tradition, but now we are embracing a more contemporary approach because bridal is starting to follow the direction ready to wear fashion is taking. In the future it will be runway to aisle as brides are considering more modern gowns versus traditional wedding day looks.