Elda Da Re is a fashion powerhouse! At eighty-years young, Elda founded her knitwear company, St Georges, in the Veneto region of north-east Italy in the mid-1950s. Today the company, with Elda still at its helm, the company continues to evolve but never losing sight of her passion for quality and “Made In Italy” philosophy.
I have a confession to make: Elda is my father’s first cousin and I have in fact stood on the sidelines watching Elda’s personal, and company growth, my entire life. Some of my earliest memories of her are trying to keep up as she would dash at lightning speed from the showroom, to the factory, to her design atelier, checking on everyone and every detail. All these years later, she doesn’t seem to have slowed down at all!
Elda: I was very young and inexperienced when I decided to start my own company, and in those days it wasn’t an easy thing for a woman to do. I was determined, and I knew right from the beginning, in order to stand out in the very crowed Italian manufacturing industry, our products needed to be of the highest quality. Sixty years later this aim is still at the core of our business.
By the 1970s, with demand for the St Georges’ brand in high demand throughout Italy and Europe, Elda introduced some of the first automated knitting machines to the company, resulting in 24/7 production.
Elda: I felt it was essential that we move with the times and so I invested heavily back into the company through technology and skills. Whilst the final say on the designs are mine, I love to collaborate with stylists and colourists who continuously bring fresh ideas to the table. As the CEO, I don’t have time these days to travel and find inspiration, but they do; it is their experiences in Morocco or the south of France, for example, that can inspire an entire collection.
By the 1980s, Europe was becoming increasing aware of the St Georges brand as their clothing appeared in many magazines, including the front cover of Vogue Italia, several times. As a teen, I remember on one of our family trips and Elda gave my mother one of the tops that had been on the cover of Vogue; I thought it was one of the most stunning garments I had ever seen.
Over the past few years, Elda has been mentoring her niece Fosca, and great-niece Mara, in key roles within the company, as she believes both these strong, passionate woman have what it takes to grow and evolve St Georges well into the future.
Elda: Both Fosca and Mara have literally grown up playing with the yarns and fabrics; it’s in their blood. They have an inherited a deep understanding of the history of the company, and the brand, and that experience is priceless.
On a recent trip to see the family, not only was it reassuring to see the company in the capable hands of Fosca and Mara, but it was heart-warming (and adorable) to listen to Mara’s six-year old daughter, Sofia, seriously explain to me the embroidery details on several dresses. There is no doubt St Georges will be around long into the future.
For more information about Elda and St Georges go to stgeorges.it