In the U.S., a typical year sees about 2 million weddings. In China, that figure is upward of 8 million, and although Chinese brides may wear six or more dresses over the course of their wedding day, they have historically worn just a single pair of shoes throughout the event.
To offer Chinese brides greater access to exquisite, handcrafted bridal shoes that help create lifetime memories,US-based luxury shoe brand Bella Belle is now partnering with Tmall Global as a Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest participant. Bella Belle has shipped to 79 countries and currently partners with 60 stockists across 22 countries, but the brand’s founders have always prioritized growth in China, given the scale of its population, its fast-growing economy and its thriving wedding market.
“The Prettiest 12-Hour Shoes”
Bella Belle is a passion project of two high school best friends, Veronyca Kwan and Erina Ardianto, who originally began selling shoes out of their living rooms while they were in college. Creative Director Ardianto oversees the brand’s design and aesthetics, which prioritize femininity and romanticism, while Kwan is responsible for global expansion and storytelling.
The co-founders officially launched Bella Belle in 2016 to create handmade bridal and special occasion shoes that are as comfortable as they are beautiful. The team recognized a white space in the market for exquisite, on-trend wedding shoes at an affordable luxury pricepoint, and wanted to offer brides across the world access to “the prettiest 12-hour shoes” that provided the ultimate in comfort throughout the entire wedding day.
Bella Belle creates all of its designs in-house, and artisans at a family-owned production facility in China craft each shoe by hand, using beads, lace and embroidered elements sourced fromaround the world. The secret to the shoes’ comfort is their generous padding, three to four times more than is typical in dressy shoes. Also, every element that touches the foot is made from either soft leather or stretchable, breathable mesh.
Content Is Queen
Rather than relying on social media influencers to build brand awareness, Bella Belle has built a global community of wedding planners, gown and jewelry designers, and customers to provide feedback via social media and share recommendations. The brand focuses on creating high-quality, entertaining content to drive new customer acquisition and recently launched a unique initiative called Bella Belle by You to allow its global followers across social platforms to vote on their favorite shoe designs, details and names. The brand is now creating the winning designs, which will be released early next year. The initiative has been “great for community engagement and feedback,” says Kwan, putting the brand’s customers and followers at the center of the product development process.
Bella Belle has an e-commerce platform in China, but this year will be first time the brand has taken part in 11.11 promotions on Tmall Global. Kwan says that Pitch Fest is “a great opportunity for us to get a head start and let people know that we’re already in China, and that they don’t have to wait to get items shipped from the US.” The founders are now working with the Tmall team to identify potential influencer and design collaboration partners in China ahead of the festival.
With demand for beautiful handmade wedding shoes on the rise in China, the Bella Belle founders say they’re thrilled to have the chance to work with the Tmall team to further tailor their assortment and content for the local consumer audience.