We love a beautiful gown around these parts, and we’ve been so loving getting to know Melbourne brand GWM Wedding recently. Headed up by designer Lily Tran, the brand is only new, but has already produced incredible gowns and recently opened their beautiful boutique in Hawthorn. Today, the lovely Ines is joining us to share a little about the brand and what’s ahead for bridal fashion in 2019!

If you’re looking for your dream gown, take a look here – you’ll be amazed at what you find.

How long has GWM Wedding had a presence in Melbourne?

GWM wedding has been in Melbourne for two years, but it was only last December 2017 that we opened our first flagship in Hawthorn. The gowns were previously displayed in a few bridal retail stores around the inner-suburbs. The decision to open GWM Wedding’s own store was based on custom-made being an increasing option for a lot of brides. We can offer the dream dress at affordable prices, and having a full-time space for designers and highly experienced bridal consultants was just the right fit for us.

What was the idea behind creating GWM Wedding?

Lily Tran, our founder, had been working in the wedding dress industry for a long time and saw a place in the market that needed to be filled – high-quality gowns at affordable prices. With this idea, GWM Wedding was born. All our dresses are made with high-quality fabrics and embellishments, the seamstress and pattern makers are highly trained to achieve an impeccable result. Even our custom-made dresses are affordable, we always work with the bride’s budget to ensure that their dream dress is possible.

How many collections do you design every year?

We come up with two ready-to-wear collections a year, Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Each collection has between 25-30 different dresses. Both have various concepts and styles to keep a range of diverse gowns in store. The design team is also known for their capsule collections, for example in November 2018 we received a selection of bridal suits and jumpsuits to round out our variety of designs in store.

Where do you find inspiration and ideas when designing your collections?

I know this might seem cheesy, but our brides-to-be are our biggest inspiration. We listen very carefully to all their concerns and suggestions. We take on board everything that comes up during our appointments to make sure that the collections that GWM Wedding brings meet perfectly the demands of the brides. We, of course, also do trends and new innovative materials research. A great example of that is our popular laser-cut lace.

Please describe your latest collection, Love Birds. 

The Love Birds collection is composed of 30 designs. It includes ball gowns, A-line, modified A-line, fit and flare, mermaid, sheath… all shapes and styles. One of the focal aspects of the collection is the use of colour; all dresses can be made in ivory, blush, champagne, soft gold or peach. The introduction of new colours is one of the biggest trends for Spring/Summer 2019.

What was the inspiration for this collection?

Love Birds was inspired by a roll of lace, it all started with finding what would become our focal point for the design. The lace’s intricate picture shows peacock plumes, from that point everything came into place. The ideas for all the beading, the colours and the shapes. All of the dresses have a similar feel to them – very whimsical and soft – just like a bird soaring.

For brides who buy from your ready to wear collection, are they able to customize any part of the gown?

Of course, they can. Having an in-house designer and highly trained bridal consultants allows our brides to get creative with their gowns. They can mix and match tops and bottoms, add sleeves, change necklines; everything is possible with our gowns. Even with our sample gowns things can be changed.
One of the most expensive alterations for a wedding dress is the hem, at GWM Wedding, if you know what shoes you are going to wear, we can offer you the hem straight away with no additional cost. That is one of the many advantages that a designer store can give you.

Are you known for a certain style or look?

I think that one of the styles that defines us is the hand-beaded details that most of our dresses have. Beading is something that needs to be carefully placed to complete a look, it is not an easy task. Most of our brides love the subtle placement of the beading, it gives that extra je ne sais quoi that completes a wedding dress.
Another thing that we are known for, is the possibility to modify whatever the bride wants in the gowns. It is something that gives our clients a sense of comfort that they can’t find in all other bridal stores.

You also offer a full custom design service. How much time does a gown take to design and make?

Our custom design service requires at least six months from the first sit down with the bride talking about the idea to the final fitting.
We start by meeting with the bride two or three times to discuss design, fabric, laces, and embellishments. After that, with an approved design, we send it to be manufactured. We keep in touch with the bride at all times about the process that has been done on the dress. Once the dress gets in the store it’s a matter of a couple of fittings to make it fit perfectly and we are all done. It seems like a daunting process for a lot of the brides, but getting the dress of your dreams made is a really seamless process.

What do you love about designing and making a bespoke gown?

Seeing the bride’s reaction when we unveil the finished gown for the first time; that for me is priceless and makes the whole process worth it.
Working with the bride, incorporating their ideas and showing them the process of designing and making a garment is very interesting, it’s teaching someone how to make their dream dress come true. It is a unique experience and for me, it’s what I enjoy the most at GWM Wedding.

How do you keep your ideas fresh so that each gown is unique?

Research. Keeping informed about trends, fashion shows, new designers, reading about fashion in general. Ideas can come from everywhere, and the more research you do the more ideas come flowing to your mind. We usually find a common theme for each collection and then we develop it from there.
Do you keep special laces etc aside for these custom-made gowns – using them as inspiration for a design that you know will be just right for a client?
We do keep some very special embroidery laces for one-of-a-kind dresses. We like to have some unique laces and embroideries that will only fit some very special dresses and brides. When you come to our store in Hawthorn for a custom-made appointment, we will show you our extended range of laces and fabrics, that includes the one-of-a-kinds that we have saved for special brides. That means that no two dresses with that special lace or embroidery will come out of our store.

That allows us to create unique pieces for very special clients.

With so many different laces, tulles, and fabrics on offer, how do you choose the materials you’ll use in your upcoming collections?

We have a team that travels around the world sourcing our materials. For our basic fabrics – satin, chiffon, silk, tulle – we have plenty in stock and we source it from the same place every time as we are very happy with the quality of it.
Laces and embroidery are very different, every collection has a theme and the embellishments have to go accordingly. So every season we source new inspiring and innovative laces from all around the world. That doesn’t mean we only look into Europe, some of the most beautiful laces come from India and China.

Are all your gowns made in Melbourne?

Our gowns are designed and altered in Melbourne, but the main production is based in Vietnam. We have our own small atelier where all the dresses are made with care and attention to detail. Having our main production overseas allows us to keep affordable prices for very high-quality gowns. We keep in direct contact with them every day to make sure all dresses come in perfectly for the bride. When it comes to custom-made dresses we notify our brides with pictures of the progress to make sure everything is going accordingly.

You also offer accessories for the bride. We’d love to know all about them!

GWM Wedding stocks a wide range of veils, headpieces, garters, bridal robes, boleros, and jewellery, including earrings, bracelets, necklaces and tiaras. We have everything that a bride might need to complete their look. As bridal consultants we want our clients to have the best experience possible, and giving them a finished look is the epitome of that.

All our brides get a bridal robe of their choosing as our present to them when they order a new dress.

At the moment we are looking into bringing shoes to have in store. Finding beautiful and comfortable wedding shoes is not an easy task, that is why we are trying to reduce the stress of finding the perfect pair of shoes by having them in store.

Are your veils made in-house to suit your collections?

All our veils are made in-house, we try and keep an extended variety of lengths in store, but most important, we have all kind of embellishments. Beading, lace, ribbons – everything is possible – and most of our veils have a specific dress that they have been designed for, but we encourage brides to mix and match. A great example is when a dress doesn’t have beading, incorporating it into the veil gives that little touch that makes it go from a beautiful dress to ‘the one’.

Are you able to advise a bride on whether to add a veil, headpiece or both to enhance the look of her gown?

We most definitely can. As I mentioned before, completing a look for a bride is of utmost importance; for the majority of our customers seeing the finished look is what ensures that the dress they have fallen in love with is the right one. All our consultants have the knowledge to advise our brides to be to find the most amazing accessories that will complete her look.

What trends in design and laces/fabrics do you see appearing in the coming year for wedding gowns?

Jumpsuits and two-piece suits or skirt and top combinations are going to make an appearance in the coming year; with marriage equality being approved more brides will experiment in their looks. When it comes to fabrics and laces, chiffon and soft fabrics will be a must; being comfortable on your wedding day is something that brides are looking for at the moment.
We are also expecting 3D and laser cut lace to make an appearance.

Over the years we’ve seen a move from bright white to softer whites and ivories in gowns, but are other colours making an appearance either in pastels or patterned fabrics?

Colour is a must for this Spring/Summer season. You can see it on our Love Birds collection; blush, champagne, peach, etc are very present in our store. More and more brides want to break from the white and stand out with a soft colour. We don’t even stock dresses in white, all our dresses come in ivory and most of the colours mentioned above. White is not flattering for most people, and ivory is the perfect replacement, most brides can’t even tell the difference, but it does flatter all skin tones.

How does the team celebrate the end of the working week?

After a week of working non stop we like to go out for a drink as a team, discuss the outcomes of the week and plan the next one. Planning the window display is something that we all love, it allows us to be creative and if we have a little bit of time we enjoy getting our hands on DIY projects to enhance the displays.
Other weeks that have been very busy and exhausting we enjoy chilling by the sofa catching up with the program ‘Say yes to the dress’ we usually have a cry. Watching the program always encourages us to keep up our customer service!

A big thank you to the lovely Ines for sharing all her gown wisdom and telling us all about GWM Weddings! Loving the thought of seeing more soft colours in wedding gowns for the spring and summer seasons. You can find out more about GWM Wedding via their website or their Polka Dot Directory page here.

All images by GWM Wedding.