A NEW business that designs and creates high end wedding dresses has found its home in one of Bradford city centre’s most impressive buildings.
Huma Humad is based in a unit at Grade II listed Eastbrook Hall that has been empty since the building was refurbished in 2008.
It is run by siblings Hummad Ilyas and Humma Ilyas, who hope the high end dress designs will help put Bradford on the map.
The business is already attracting attention from far beyond the city’s borders.
Although the original plans were to open the doors of the business last April – the Covid pandemic meant that much of the work had to be scaled back, or done on platforms like Zoom.
But now with restrictions lifting, the company is ready to lift the veil on the store, and welcome people in face to face.
The ground floor of the unit is home to the ready to wear dresses designed by the brother and sister, as well as a floral display they hope many visitors will be loading pictures of onto social media.
The upper floor is where customers go to discuss their designer dresses – where they can see the fabrics and sketches of the designs. There is also a large mirrored stage so they can see themselves in the final product.
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The pair, who are from Bradford, discuss ideas for dresses with the customers before they craft the designs with pen and paper. The dresses are then made up by a team in Pakistan.
Although the business is in its early days, it has already attracted customers and attention from across the UK, Pakistan and even the US.
Hummad, who studied graphic design and has worked in Flannels, said lockdown happening so early into the business had proved a struggle, with money from any dress sales going towards essentials and to pay builders working on the unit.
He said: “Our credit cards were maxed out. But now we are are the stage where the money is coming in and things are a bit more stable.”
Money put down for dresses had been returned to customers when the scale of restrictions was realised, but Mr Ilyas said most customers had now returned to them to pick up where they left off.
He said: “People who have seen the space inside here are amazed by it. We’ve had enquiries from London, Glasgow, Birmingham. I’m not too surprised by that because I know how the industry works.
“It is important we put Bradford on the map.”
The business is open on Tuesdays to Thursdays, then Saturdays and Sundays. Although the opening hours are noon until 7pm – they say they are able arrange to open at any time for appointments.
They are planning to take on apprentices to share what they know about the Asian bridal business, with Mr Ilyas adding: “We’re willing to share what we know, we’re not hiding any secrets. We don’t mind if someone opens another boutique in Bradford, it all helps the industry.
“We’ve been trading for a year, but we’re finally able to lift the veil and invite the public in, rather than be exclusive and just have appointments.”
The siblings said working together made it easy for them to bounce ideas off each other, and they often discuss ideas for designs around the dinner table.
Humma, who studies textiles, said: “We want to give people a great experience when they come here.”
She said that from the initial design ideas by the pair, it can take up to a year for a dress to become a reality.
Indeed, the shop has a book of designs on display that are not likely to be ready until January.
Although some of the more basic dresses take six to eight weeks to make, the more complex bridal dresses can take up to six months.
Humma added: “The whole dress is hand crafted. Every bit.
“You have to think ahead for what the trends are likely to be. Fashion is always changing. You have things like social awareness or political awareness. People are also inspired by the past.
“But it isn;t always about what is on trend – we aim to do something different every year. We want to do better than we did the year before. That’s what we aim for.”