In Conversation with Elbeth Gillis
Elbeth Gillis is a hot name in her home country, South Africa, and an internationally-recognised bridal design force that sets her own boundaries. In this, Elbeth’s latest magazine interview with Wedding Trader, she gets talking about her new Botanical Bridal Collection and its special message.
What was the first thing you designed – how old were you and what was it?
I was probably about five or six – I started sewing early. It would have been a dress for one of my dolls.
Did you always want to be in fashion – when did bridal happen into your life?
After I completed my degree in fashion design at Cape Town University of Technology, I worked as a childrenswear designer for a big factory supplying the retailers. During that time I realised that I loved bridal and the more bespoke part of the fashion world. I launched my bridal business is 1997.
Do you come from a design-driven or artistic family background?
Yes, everyone in my family is creative and loves crafting and creating just about anything. My mother and aunts are all wonderful seamstresses and I learned a lot from them as a child.
How many collections do you produce a year?
It depends, but usually two or three.
Which countries do you sell in? And what are the most popular sizes?
For sample gowns usually a UK 12, for the Curve Collection a UK 22. Brides are all sizes, but around a 10 to 14 in most cases.
Where do you source your fabrics?
We really source from all over – India, Taiwan, China, the UK, Spain and France.
What silhouettes are your favourites generally, and your choice for the 2023 season?
I love clean, structural gowns, but lace is also a favourite. My choice would be a simple but dramatic ballgown.
How many pieces do you have in each collection, and are they all new or do you keep best sellers going
Each collection has at least eight new gowns, and yes, we do keep best-sellers.
Tell us about your latest collection and its special style features and embellishments.
Our latest collection is called Botanical and is inspired by my love of gardening and all things floral. There are some beautiful 3-D floral and leaf embellishments. Shimmering beadwork is also a big part of the Botanical personality.
Which are the best bridal markets for you?
The UK and South Africa.
Do you grant your retailers exclusivity, do you stipulate minimum orders?
Yes, we do grant exclusivity and require a minimum of six dresses, but it can be over all our collections.
What is the RRP in the UK?
From £1,400 to £4,000.
How do you promote your label to the trade, and also to consumers?
We participate in shows, send newsletters and focus heavily on social media for consumers.
Which trade events will you be showing at in 2023?
European Bridal Week in Essen or possibly Barcelona or One Fine Day New York.
Who would be your dream to dress of past or present personalities?
Get the full article in the January/February 2023 edition of the Wedding Trader Magazine