Feature image source: eli_sh_ia on Instagram
There’s a whole lot more to luxury fashion than monograms and expensive price tags and this week’s woman crush, Elishia Govender educates us on exactly that.
What were you doing before starting your career in luxury fashion?
“I used to work for Rivers Church as a receptionist & volunteered there for many years.”
How long have you been working in this industry?
“I started working in 2012 for Louis Vuitton and joined Gucci in 2015. This year marks 7 years in the high luxury fashion retail environment.”
What has it been like working with brands that have a rich heritage yet also have a major influence on millennials?
“Working for an Italian brand has been phenomenal. It has been nothing but a privilege to have been a part of the revolution that Allesandro Michele has made into every millennials definition of what true fashion is right now. No boundaries, gender fluid and expressive.”
If it wasn’t luxury fashion, where do think you’d be working?
“My heart will always be in outreach to underprivileged schools and kids. I am on a journey to begin an outreach to schools in rural areas where myself and a few friends of mine have decided to start an NGO where we would be able to start assisting kids through all grade with financial aid, life skills, after school projects and counselling. We aim to start bridging a major gap that we have found with many schools that are in dire need of assistance with financial aid, after school activities and life skills.”
Where do you currently work and what do you do there?
“I currently work for Gucci and I am the Department manager for the store in Johannesburg.”
What have been some of the greatest rewards of working for brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton?
Louis Vuitton opened a door to find my passion in the fashion industry and styling. There is so much more to the fashion world apart from just clothing. Gucci gave me a platform to put forward my experience and grow myself. I started as a sales associate and built my way up. I have been able to travel the world, visit the fashion capital and discover the design process for some of the most iconic pieces known to the brand and that has just been the start of my career. I still feel like I have just unlocked my first chapter to this amazing adventure as there is so much to still experience.
What have been some of the greatest challenges you’ve encountered in retail?
“My greatest challenge has been adapting to situations. Fashion evolves and it takes a lot of dedication to keep yourself well informed about competing brands , product knowledge, customer relations; these are all the pieces that get the complete puzzle together.”
What do you wish people knew about working in fashion and especially retail?
“Retail can be so rewarding, but only if you put the time and effort into it. It isn’t easy and takes so much dedication and hard work. I have worked up to 15 hours a day sometimes. I started off as just a sales associate with no idea that it could lead me to such a magical career. It took me a few good years to become the Department Manager as that position had been created in South Africa specifically for me. It taught me perseverance and sacrifice, I gave up many family events, holidays and so many special occasions to be at work. Retail hours can be a nightmare. It was so tough at first but I get to travel the world now for amazing events, pre- screenings of seasons and even all expenses paid weeks to Italy as a reward for all my hard work. From the outside, society sees retail as just a poor little sales job that someone was lucky enough to get, but to be chosen to be an ambassador for such a prestigious international brand is every girl’s dream if they have a flair for fashion. Stick to your passion and work hard at what you believe you deserve.”
Is working in luxury fashion as glamorous for employees as it is for the brands’ customers?
It really is a glamorous job, sometimes we do have bad experiences but it comes with working face to face with people from different walks of life. But when it’s gets good it gets really good. Meeting famous people and growing relationships with people you’d never think you’d meet in your own world is nothing but magical. It’s encouraging to meet people who have worked extremely hard to be able to afford such expensive brands and even if they don’t necessarily buy from the store we meet many people who really do admire us for the brand we represent.
From the current collections in store right now, which 2 items for men and women would you recommend as the perfect gift?
My favourite piece at the moment is Flashtrek. An amazing collection of gender fluid shoes. I love that about Gucci; fluidity of genders, no boundaries and no rules to the fashion world.