Rachel Gil­bert

Founder of fash­ion brand Rachel Gil­bert

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WHAT DO SINGER Tay­lor Swift, trend­set­ter Olivia Palermo and politi­cian Julie Bishop all have in com­mon? They’ve all worn de­signer Rachel Gil­bert.

Known for evening­wear, Gil­bert founded her busi­ness in 2007. “I have al­ways been cre­atively ex­pres­sive and ex­tremely de­ter­mined to be an en­tre­pre­neur,” she says. “Al­though I’ve al­ways been in­nately con­nected to evening­wear from a de­sign per­spec­tive, I also an­a­lysed the mar­ket and saw an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate an of­fer­ing for a cat­e­gory that was, in my opin­ion, un­der-rep­re­sented.”

It was a gam­ble that paid off for the de­signer. And it wasn’t long be­fore the brand came to the at­ten­tion of in­ter­na­tional fash­ion buy­ers. “We started work­ing with in­ter­na­tional stock­ists in 2009, the first coun­try be­ing the United King­dom by way of sem­i­nal e-tailer Net-a-Porter,” she says. “We now have stock­ists in the US, UK, France, Tur­key, the Mid­dle East and China.”

How­ever, cater­ing to an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence cer­tainly comes with its chal­lenges. Gil­bert says it’s dif­fi­cult to main­tain con­sis­tency. “When you are trad­ing across hemi­spheres there are a lot of fac­tors that can af­fect how a busi­ness chooses to op­er­ate sea­son­ally, lo­gis­ti­cally and from a mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive,” she says.

“The fash­ion land­scape be­comes very crowded when you are play­ing on a global field and, in or­der for your busi­ness to thrive, I be­lieve it is es­sen­tial to cre­ate cut-through by hav­ing a brand story and aes­thetic that be­comes a sig­na­ture.”

For Gil­bert, that sig­na­ture is her luxe oc­ca­sion­wear, so it fea­tures heav­ily in her mar­ket­ing and so­cial me­dia cam­paigns. How­ever, she adds that it’s vi­tal to pro­vide use­ful mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als and im­ages that will trans­late into the dig­i­tal space. “Nowa­days, there is such a wealth of great ed­i­to­rial ma­te­rial on­line that re­tail­ers have had to re­assess how they pack­age and de­liver what was once a very stan­dard prod­uct of­fer­ing mes­sage,” she ex­plains. “It’s an added value mech­a­nism, giv­ing cus­tomers the feel­ing they are get­ting free fash­ion in­sight and styling ad­vice from trusted au­thor­i­ties, and comes with the added ben­e­fit for the re­tailer of be­ing im­me­di­ately shop­pable on their plat­form. Our as­so­ci­a­tion with such rep­utable stores as Bergdorf Good­man, Neiman Mar­cus and Har­rods has def­i­nitely helped in driv­ing global aware­ness.”

Celebri­ties are an­other key fac­tor. Gil­bert has dressed the likes of model and en­tre­pre­neur Heidi Klum and Aussies Me­gan Gale and Jesinta Franklin. “This is also be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in terms of ex­po­sure and as­so­ci­a­tion — this is some­thing that will no doubt as­sist us to grow in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, most no­tably the US,” she says.

“When you are trad­ing across hemi­spheres there are a lot of fac­tors that can af­fect how a busi­ness chooses to op­er­ate.”

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