How Buzzy Label Galvan Is Changing Evening Gowns
This London brand takes a modern approach to fancy dresses.
Carolyn Hodler is busy organizing clothing racks inside a suite at the Hazelton Hotel in Toronto when Katherine Holmgren breezes into the room, just off a plane from New York. Hodler and Holmgren are half of the quartet of friends-turned-business partners behind the unfussy evening brand Galvan (along with Anna-Christin Haas and Sola Harrison), and they are in town to host a two-day trunk show just in time for holiday party season. When Holmgren changes out of her plane outfit and into a nude-toned, sequinned midi with a high neck and long sleeves, it becomes clear that the founders are the embodiment of the Galvan girl—always on the move, sometimes at wedding in the south of France or a gala in New York. Or maybe at a low-key bar in East London. And it’s exactly this kind of lifestyle that calls for eveningwear that isn’t boring, stuffy or impractical. It doesn’t get more appealing or more current than a slinky dress that can be whipped out of an Away suitcase and worn with minimal makeup, undone hair and still look black-tie ready.
Hodler agrees, “We started the label five years ago because we really felt like there was a gap in market for cool eveningwear at an accessible price point. We sit along the luxury brands but we’re still at a very attractive price point. We felt there was a need for eveningwear to be a bit more pared down.”
Some of Galvan’s best-sellers include satin slip dresses reminiscent of ’90s supermodel party-wear: “You can dress them up but then equally you can throw on some biker boots and a chunky wool sweater and it feels cool,” advises Hodler. And a tailored, dip-neckline jumpsuit gets reimagined in new materials each season— a black velvet take is particularly appealing for the holidays. Then there are some new injections, like a selection of avocado-green crushed velvet dresses along with separates, a newer category that includes fringe-adorned jackets and swooshy, floor-sweeping trousers. Every piece is made in London.
In another move that addresses their founders’ needs as well as those of their customers, Galvan recently launched bridal. “A few of us got married, and we were like ‘This is crazy!’ Why do so many wedding dresses have to be cheesy and you have to make an appointment. The whole thing seemed quite antiquated,” says Hodler. To that end, Galvan now carries 15 bridal styles, from suits and jumpsuits and gowns.
Though the brand champions an off-the-rack approach to fancy dressing, they do offer a bespoke service—handy for, say, a celebrity wanting a unique look. “What’s been great with celebrities like Rosie or Gwyneth is that they’ve come to us, they’ve had something they like and they’re repeat customers.” And the celebrity effect on sales is indeed real, shares Hodler: “Sienna Miller wore something of ours from a past collection and suddenly we’re getting all these calls!”
With the trunk show in Toronto wrapped, expect to see Galvan on the party circuit. A lot.