Leslie Voorhees Means

Leslie Voorhees Means

by Melissa Magsaysay

Click onto the Anomalie Instagram account and the first thing you’ll notice (besides of course, the grid packed with gorgeous wedding gowns) is one of their taglines, “we are pro bride.”

Since its relatively recent launch in 2016, the online only, direct to consumer custom wedding gown website has stepped in where the wedding gown industry has typically left brides stuck between astronomical prices or limited sizing and often all of the above.

The brainchild of Leslie Voorhees Means, Anomalie allows brides-to-be another option than the formal boutiques and traditional department bridal salons. She is putting the control back into the hands of the bride to select what they want their dress to look like and actually be able to afford it.

Anomalie currently serves sizes 0 to 32, which is a wider size range than most designer gown labels and an aspect we are frankly all for.

Here, Voorhees Means discusses how she dreamed up such a genius concept and has made it work for thousands of women who are now able to create the dress of their dreams in a range of styles, sizes and prices so the perfect day really is just that.

Q & A with Leslie Voorhees Means

What was the impetus to start your business?

Anomalie came out of my personal experience (and frustration!) with wedding dress shopping. I was so surprised during my wedding gown search in 2016 how hard it was to find a dress that aligned with my style, fit correctly, and didn’t have an offensive price. I had a specific vision, but just couldn't find THE ONE. I didn’t understand why there were no online options that brought more transparency and customization than the mom-and-pop boutiques.

At the time, I was working for Apple in China for the Watch. I learned that the city nearby the Apple factory produces 80% of the world’s wedding dresses. I visited on a weekend and used connections to find some top workshops that make dresses for the expensive boutique brands. The lightbulb occurred when I saw a dress I recognized that sells in the US for thousands and realized it cost only hundreds to make.

I made my dress at this factory and mentioned it to a couple friends. Within a week, I had 30 emails from friends of friends asking to make them a dress on my next China trip. My husband and I became obsessed with wedding dresses and realized a brand with great design support, great operations/supply chain management, and great tech could bring more customization, value, and transparency to this broken market. We both quit our jobs, and the day after our wedding we flew to China to start production!

What has been one of the most surprising aspects of your business since starting? What is one of the biggest challenges?

One big challenge for our company is delivering our stunning dresses perfectly and on time, every time. Our early employees and I knew each bride’s story and dress specifications for our first 1,000 dresses. We’re obviously creating more scalable structures, but the level of customer obsession from our early days must scale. Every dress is contributing to a moment our customer will remember for the rest of her life, which is an amazing privilege.

One surprising thing is how fun it is to work with brides. I hate the "bridezilla" stereotype now ... we have so many women coming to us desperate and frustrated (for what should be a really exciting and happy time in her life), so we approach each conversation with empathy and respect for this incredible important garment!

Had you previously found that the wedding dress market had not been size inclusive?

It's still amazing to me how broken the wedding dress industry is, and how many women feel left out of the process. The average bridal boutique doesn't carry the average American women's size, which is shocking! This means significantly less choices for plus size brides. We've heard horror-stories from many of our plus-size brides about salespeople steering them away from (or in some cases not even letting them) try on fitted styles since it wouldn't be "flattering".

How have you set out to change that? / Why does custom wedding gowns ordered online work so well?

Our greatest reward, by far, is making a difference for our brides by accommodating many sizes, styles, and budgets. By making our dresses made-to-order we don't need to hold expensive inventory like boutiques, and can make the dresses specifically to a woman's measurements, meaning more sizes and less alterations than something off-the-rack. We've cut out the retail costs through centralizing operations and providing a mostly digital experience, which means we can sell our dresses at a more accessible price point of $1,000-$2,000. Lastly, by being more involved with our supply chain, we are able to manufacture in a more custom way that's still efficient, meaning custom choices and personalization for our brides.

Until what size do the dresses go?

Currently we've made dresses in sizes 00 to 32, but we'd be happy to have a conversation with brides above a 32+ too!

What more can fashion companies do in order to be more inclusive?

LISTEN to your customers. We're lucky because our customers are so vocal, and give us direct feedback at every step, which is how we've been able to grow and improve.


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