Without small business, we’re nothing. TheLatch— and GoDaddy have teamed up to rally behind local businesses and entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time of change.
We’re speaking to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country to better understand how they’re adapting to stay open, how they’re keeping their community safe, and how we can support them now during this time, and beyond. We’re focused on keeping Australia open for business, even if doors are closed. #OpenWeStand
Back in March, soon-to-be brides and grooms were devastated at the restrictions around public gatherings, that limited just five attendees to any weddings occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some pushed ahead with minimal attendees, for others, the thought that beloved family and friends could not attend and celebrate in person alongside them was enough to force a reschedule.
Lillian Khallouf is a respected independent Australian fashion designer, who in addition to creating wearable couture and custom designs, creates showstopping bridal looks for a dedicated client base.
Though the coronavirus wedding restrictions wiped out an unimaginable amount of her business seemingly overnight, now, she’s patiently waiting for the moment her brides are ready and able to walk down the aisle in her designs once more.
We caught up with Khallouf to find out more about how she and her business are coping in the current climate, and to find out how we can show our support.
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From Lillian and the LK team we send our love and thoughts to all our brides and clients who have had to postpone their celebrations for better times ? its a challenging time for all, but we are all in this together- our first show at MBFW cancelled and earlier this week we closed the doors to our paddington boutique. No doubt we will be back stronger together. The Atelier is closed for now, however we are contactable on [email protected] Also our ready to wear will be available online on the website as of late next week. Please stay home, look after yourself and your community ♥️ we all appreciate your support and love. Can’t wait to share happier moments in times to come.
Katie Skelly: Lillian! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. Tell me more about your label and what gets you out of bed in the morning.
Lillian Khallouf: I’ve had my business now for 15 years. I come from a long line of tailors and seamstresses in fashion — the atelier was my playground, and so while launching my eponymous label at 19 was, of course, a big leap, I felt I had the knowledge and experience to make it happen. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I’ve never thought of it as a job.
Now, I create ready-to-wear collections inspired by client’s needs, high-end custom wear, and one-of-a-kind bridal wear. Over the years, I’ve launched an online boutique, opened my retail store in Paddington, and I was due to be part of my first Fashion Week… and then COVID-19 came along.
KS: Yes, let’s talk about that. How has the pandemic affected your label and the direction you were heading?
LK: For the last four years, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia has been so kindly reaching out, inviting me to take part in various opportunities, and every year I had told them that we just weren’t ready from a production standpoint. This year, however, we decided we were ready to take part with our first Fashion Week runway show. And it was all systems go to produce the show! We were excited to see new attention from global buyers.
As things progressed, though, it became clear that Fashion Week wouldn’t be able to go ahead, and this was really hard on our team. Despite this, we’re still going ahead with the new collection.
KS: Have you put any immediate plans in plans to pivot your business?
LK: The doors to our boutique may be shut, but we’ve taken our operation online and doubled down on our focus there. It’s new territory, to be honest, and understandably, the price point of our high-end pieces has been an issue for some buyers.
We’ve been very fortunate to take part in the We Wear Australian initiative with Showroom-X, and through that we were able to offer Vogue Australia subscribers 20% off, and this generated a lot of traction to the website.
The #WeWearAustralian initiative is also out to support the Australian fashion industry, and being a part of this, we’re able to donate one garment to Thread Together for every two pieces we sell. It’s really cool.
KS: That’s such a fantastic initiative. Are you anticipating things to change as restrictions lift?
LK: Yes. A of right now, all of my brides have postponed their weddings, but come August-onwards, when maybe restrictions have lifted, I’m expecting to be inundated with bridal gown enquiries.
It seems everyone’s getting engaged right now, not to mention all the brides who have had to postpone weddings will now have their new dates overlap!
KS: How has this time been for you and your business? Do you feel like there’s potential for the industry to evolve?
LK: As a local designer who carries out all of my work to design and create within Australia, using Australian materials and quality techniques that have stood the test of time, I can only hope that people will learn to appreciate the slow pace of how things are made.
I feel like the whole world is at a standstill, and this time has made us all reflect on the things we deem important. I hope that people realise the cheap, trend-based clothing is not sustainable for their needs in the long-term. And in a perfect world, they’ll seek out quality, ethical, Australian-made garments designed to transcend the seasons and last forever.
KS: Tell me, how can people support Lillian Khallouf now and in the long-term?
LK: If you’re in a position to shop for yourself or a loved one right now, take a look on our website and engage with our content.
More importantly, consider what’s important to you and do your research into labels you love before to buy from them to make sure your values are aligned. There is so much talent in Australia, and we need to be supporting those brands who are doing what they can to design and make beautiful garments within the country.
From day one, I’ve made it my business to hire interns and educate them on the entire process, from designing to tailoring. More often than not, I’ve ended up hiring my interns because they’re genuinely the most qualified to work in an atelier after spending time with my team.
KS: What has this time meant for you, and how do you feel about the future of your brand?
LK: I feel like I’m in hibernation! But it’s a good thing. For the first time since I launched, I’ve had an opportunity to stop and overlook everything, and come up with new ways to move forward. It’s exciting! I’m looking forward to working with my brides again to create their dream wedding dresses.
My team and I, we’re all still working from our home studios. But when the day comes that we’re able to work together in the atelier, we’re going to put the foot on the accelerator. There’s no reason not to move forward.
“There’s no reason not to move forward.”
Show your support for Lillian Khallouf by browsing the new collections or window-shopping he glorious custom looks.