Bridesmaid Wear Goes, Erm, “Un-Bridesmaid” at Vancouver’s Park and Fifth

The locally based line ditches the excess frills traditionally seen in wedding attire for sleek, wear-again-and-again styles.

The locally based line ditches the excess frills traditionally seen in wedding attire for sleek, wear-again-and-again styles.

I’ve yet to have been asked to join a bridal party during my short life and, for that, I am grateful. Not because I hate love—no, I love love and all the warm, fuzzy feelings it elicits!—but because I am millennial broke in the sense that I have no problem forking over $5 for an iced oak-milk latte but refuse to spend upwards of $500 on some strapless piece of pistachio-green satin I’m supposed to squeeze myself into just so I can look identical to five other women on my childhood bestie’s Big Day. You’re a terrible friend, you may counter. And, also, you haven’t even been in a wedding before. How do you know the dresses are that bad?!!

Well, reader, I’ve seen my share of rom-coms and wedding-adjacent films—My Best Friend’s Wedding and 27 Dresses, mostly—plus a few eps of Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids, so I can confirm, with confidence, that that ill-fitting chiffon, ruching and unfortunately placed ruffle situation ain’t flattering anyone. Just ask Zoe Tisshaw, founder of Vancouver’s Park and Fifth and someone who’s actually been in her fair share of bridal parties. “I’ve literally heard friends say that they want to burn the dress by the end of it,” she recalls, “which is not how you should feel about something you’ve spent so much money on.”

Tisshaw was designing bowties for a men’s neckwear business she founded—a role that saw her immersed in the wedding industry—when she noticed a demand for affordable, ethically produced bridesmaid dresses that were fashion-forward and, most importantly, could be worn repeatedly. As someone who’s always had a knack for design (she grew up crafting her own dresses for special occasions like prom), Tisshaw decided to create a solution herself: Park and Fifth, a locally based line of “un-bridesmaid” dresses that are modern, chic and steer clear of the froufrou traditionally seen in wedding wear. “I really wanted to run with this concept of bridesmaids loving their dresses,” she says, “and having brides be excited about bringing their friends to find something they can wear again and again.”

Park and Fifth Waldorf Dress, $115.

Park and Fifth launched with four floor-length made-to-order frocks in 2016 and, three years later, it now produces more than 200 off-the-rack styles in categories such as un-bridesmaid (for bridesmaids), bridal attire (for brides) and social occasion (for attendees of weddings, proms, baby showers, summer garden parties and the like). Designed by Tisshaw, the mini dresses, jumpsuits, skirts and other pieces are crafted from breezy fabrics like rayon, polyester crepe and lace, and feature details such as bra-friendly plunges and adjustable straps that remove the need for pricey alterations. Accessibility is key for Tisshaw and her business partners, Brooke Johansen and Jenny Wright-Harper: dresses start at $115, most items don’t need to be special ordered, and returns and exchanges are allowed whether you’re shopping online or at Park and Fifth’s Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto showrooms.

Park and Fifth Valdes Maternity Dress, $285.

Inclusivity and sustainability are important, too. The brand offers its dresses in sizes that range from 00 to 22 in some cases, and there are curve, maternity and junior lines. (However, it’s worth noting that, outside curve and maternity, the company uses fit models that rarely wear larger than a size four on its website; Tisshaw and Johansen say they are working on highlighting more diverse bodies.) All garments are designed and ethically manufactured in Vancouver, with Tisshaw and her team employing dead-stock fabrics whenever possible. Fabric offcuts from production, meanwhile, become filling for a line of in-house pillows that are available at Park and Fifth’s Railtown boutique. “I don’t want to be another company that adds to global waste,” notes Tisshaw.

Up next for Park and Fifth is a new line of minimalist made-to-order bridal wear (from $500 to $1,300). Comprised of fresh fabrics such as Japanese crepe and silk chiffon—with an option for shoppers to mix and match their favourite skirt and bodice—the pieces feature unfussy silhouettes that would work at a country-club reception just as well as they would at a tropical elopement. “It’s for the chill West Coast bride who wants to have a beautiful white dress, but doesn’t need the overly intricate lace or embellishment,” says Tisshaw. “It’s a simpler, cleaner look.” In other words, it’s nothing you’ll want to light a match to afterward.

Park and Fifth Whitney dress from the soon-to-launch bridal collection.

Park and Fifth

#240–430 Railway St.