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Secrets to Success: Eliza Jane Howell

Gill Harvey, designer at the iconic brand, Eliza Jane Howell, explains her design background, the brand’s history and relationships with stockists. These may just be the secrets to the brand’s success.

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Gill Harvey, designer at Eliza Jane Howell
Gill Harvey, designer at Eliza Jane Howell

Gill’s background

“When I left the Royal College I started to work with my current business partner, Irving Goodman on an Italian knitwear collection called Medici. This sold internationally to stores such as Harrods in London, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue in New York,” says Gill. “My knitwear was always leaning towards evening wear so it was not long before I started creating my hand-beaded evening gowns. Irving had started his fashion career making gorgeous evening dresses, which graced many a Miss World in the 1950s and 60s.”

The history of the brand

“Our company has always made evening gowns, but just over five years ago when Andrea Cutts and I started working together, we wanted to create a stunning new collection,” says designer, Gill Harvey. “This is when Eliza Jane Howell was reborn.”

Gill explains that she and Andrea felt bridal dresses were not catering for the modern bride “who is much more in tune with fashion and has her own personal style.” The pair decided to take their best evening gowns and re-colour them in ivory to show as a bridal collection. “In less than five weeks, we managed to remake 24 dresses, which were all hand beaded. Our stand was mobbed, and the rest is history!”

Their new collection

“We concentrate on creating a gown that is completely hand embellished and has a subtle vintage vibe. We like to think of the bride treasuring her gown to show to the next generation and seeing her dress as an heirloom piece. The hand beading makes every gown truly unique.”

Close relationship with stockists

“Our stockists know that we will never let them down. They know that they will get an immediate response from us, which they often do not get from collections they work with from overseas. We also help with lead times in this climate where, increasingly, most brides want their dresses by tomorrow! We have never not made a dress in time and we never refuse an order. We also promote and support our stockists heavily on social media,” explains Gill. “We also exhibited at Brides the Show for the first time last year to promote both the label and our stockists.”

What’s next?

“We will be investing more in advertising both in magazines and online,” says Gill. “Expect to see more of our coloured dresses on the red carpet, too.”

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