Freda Bennet is a new wedding dress label from the British award-winning duo Christine Wilke and Jane Hancock. If you loved what they did before, you’ll adore what they are getting into now
First a bit of background please – tell us about LouLou and Louise Bentley and their history.
Loulou was a label that we founded in 1991 called such because of our shared middle name – Louise. We started as a bridesmaid company and in 2006 we began manufacturing in China, working with Direct Eastern, where we had complete design control. The collaboration enabled us to be more competitive on price and opened up a new level of manufacturing for us. We moved into bridal in 2010, developing our vintage-inspired look and in 2015 we launched a designer label, Louise Bentley, as a more sophisticated sister.
And what brought that era to an end?
Direct Eastern decided to take both the Loulou and Louise Bentley labels back and design them in-house, wanting to broaden their appeal.
So, as a result, a new name, a new chapter… is this the realisation of a long-held dream?
We have always considered the possibility of having our own company and boutique label again. With so much change in the industry itself, it felt like the time was right for us to move forward and re-invent ourselves.
Where did the name come from?
The name comes from our two sons Fred and Ben. It’s a nod to the next generation. It had to be a name that was personal to both of us.
Did you have a business plan right from the start?
We have always had a grand plan, and have always put our heart and soul into our labels as if they were our own. We were ready to spread our wings and be in control of our own future… the pieces in the jigsaw fitted together perfectly.
What about sourcing manufacturing facilities, and fabrics?
A particular factory in China was recommended to us and we visited them and studied their production processes, quality control and order management before deciding to go with them. We sourced our fabrics with the very expert team there who have the contacts and buying power.
So, tell us about the Freda Bennet personality – is it completely different to your past work?
Freda Bennet is a contemporary label – modern, clean cut, unfussy, well priced, good quality – and aimed at today’s bride who knows what she wants and what works for her. We needed our new signature to be far removed from that of LouLou, which took its inspiration from the past. Freda Bennet is definitely different… and forward thinking!
You launched at White Gallery in London in March – what was the response?
Very good! Our loyal customers were all interested in seeing our new direction and impressed by the creative proposition. We secured 17 shops and another ten immediately following the show… and more since.
And come September, at the big Harrogate show, how many pieces will you introduce and what will the RRP be?
We will be adding 15 new styles to the line up at Harrogate Bridal Week, taking the collection to 45 pieces. Our standard size range is 8-26, and recommended retail prices go from £1,200 to £1,600.
Do you see this as a very British label, or will you be looking for international distribution?
We see Freda Bennet as a contemporary label with world-wide appeal. And that is so exciting.
Will your stockists be granted exclusivity?
Absolutely. We will be offering retailers a 15-mile radius.
We are thrilled to take creative control of our new company and label and to work with integrity and passion in an industry that has been our world for over 27 years.
Jane and Christine had a clear vision of the personality they wanted for their new label. Importantly, they wanted it to be different to anything they had previously designed – a completely new signature.
They looked at fashion magazines, rather than bridal; they visited fashion exhibitions; they studied contemporary pattern cutting books, especially Japanese pattern cutting, and took inspiration from modern sculpture and art.
Expect to see…
• Elegant lines
• Crisp cuts
• Defined features
• Streamlined details
• Sculpted silhouettes
• Skirts with movement
T: +44 (0)1322 537741