Up Close with Gaâla: Slow, Sustainable Luxury Fashion

December 1, 2022

When Kelly de Gaalon launched Gaâla with her husband, Alexander Zhalezka, they built sustainability into their brand from the ground up, choosing to create their collections from deadstock and fabric leftovers. Gaâla’s production model avoids the environmental damage manufacturing can cause. Instead, tailors repurpose luxurious deadstock fabric to craft limited numbers of pieces by hand. Their process minimizes waste, reduces landfill, and ensures talented craftspeople earn a fair wage.

Gaâla pairs vintage silhouettes with a modern design sensibility. Each piece is long-wearing and unique; the limited nature of deadstock means only a few can be made. Classically French in style with a contemporary twist, the Gaâla brand is for women who want to combine their love of timeless fashion with a commitment to sustainability. We had a chance to talk to Kelly about her approach, inspirations, and plans for the future.

Tell us a little bit about your approach.

Our vision is to create beautiful and responsibly crafted styles for professional and everyday wear without compromising sustainability. Gaâla’s apparel is unique: we combine the nostalgia of time-honored silhouettes with contemporary designs for the modern yet feminine woman. Our customers don’t need to choose between being stylish or being timeless: our collections can be both.

What was the inspiration for your most recent collection?

Our latest collection is ‘Cooler Days’. Launched in early September, it is a seamless segue into the freshness of the approaching fall season. We know not everyone is ready to say goodbye to summer, so we want the collection to soften the transition, by inspiring a wardrobe refresh and challenging us to find new ways to wear the items we love most all year round.

Do you have any particular favorite pieces from the new collection?

The Kara dress is close to my heart  -- it was inspired by a vintage silk slip dress that belonged to my grandmother. Then there’s the Estelle dress, one of the first dresses I ever designed. To this day, it remains our top best-seller. It’s a signature dress beloved by our community, and I believe it is destined to become a treasured keepsake.

What led you to work with JOOR?

JOOR’s proposition is a strong one: a global network of retailers, brands, and tools to support sales analytics on both sides. We have an incredible following, with sales coming in from all corners of the world on our website, however, there is just something special about the experience with and spirit of independent retailers. Where some brands are taking everything in house, or staying solely online, we feel strongly about wanting to deliver a blend of online and offline brand experiences. We are so excited to be going into retail, and developing long-lasting retail partnerships – and doing all of it with JOOR.

What’s up next? Do you have any big plans for the future?

Yes! We have exciting plans: we’re opening up another workshop in Lithuania next year. Since our launch, Gaâla has been working exclusively on a pre-order basis. But as the demand for our apparel grows, we appreciate that we have to expand to be best able to meet our customers’ needs. We will continue to work on a pre-order basis: it helps us avoid overproduction and waste. But our community will be delighted to discover that we will soon be carrying stock of select designs.

What would you say to aspiring designers, to young people starting out in the industry?

Founding and running a fashion brand is a lot of hard work. The market is full of heavy competition. It’s a very challenging business, but at the same time it is a rewarding and fulfilling journey. Try to find what sets your business, your dreams, apart from the others in the long terms, and capitalize on that. In a world that follows trends, find your foundation and stay true to it.

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