Saturday, February 27, 2010

Doing my part

Since i started studying fashion i have struggled with how i was going to be able to help make the world a better place while doing what i love. Before i started designing the Rare line, i knew that i wanted to donate part of the proceeds from my line to a charity. I decided to work with the Global Goods Partners. "Global Goods Partners (GGP) is a fair-trade, not-for-profit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty and promoting social justice by strengthening women-led development initiatives for marginalized communities in Asia, Africa, and the Americas."

This charity is doing something that is so meaningful to me. They help women continue to be creative and support themselves and their families by selling their handmade goods on their website, GGP gives these women an opportunity to do what i do. I hope that my efforts make a difference for theses women as well has help others in this country realize how luck they are.

(Trying my hand at stamping Adinkra fabric in Ghana)

While visiting rural Mexico, Ghana and India, I was able to see the incredible textiles and artwork that impoverished women create. Each product is filled with so much love and culture. I understand that not everyone has a passion for travel and a love for cultural artwork, but i do and i want to share that with others who may not normally have the chance to do so.

I can't wait to help the GGP and continue to learn, travel and encourage others to do the same.

(Fabric saleswoman in Kumasi, Ghana, Africa)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dirndl, animal style

I like my dirndln like i like my In-N-Out burger, Animal Style!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Couture Dirndln

As part of my collection i wanted to include one avant-garde piece. A garment that is more inspirational and technically detailed than wearable and sale able. Here is a little taste of the couture piece for 2010.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sneek Peeks!

I think its just about time that people get to see what i have been doing cooped up in my parents dining room for 2 months... So every few days i'm going to post a little sneek peek. I hope you all enjoy and get ready for the launch in April!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oh, the joys of designing!

I knew i wanted to design dirndls, i knew i needed them to sell, i knew that i needed some separates and i knew i wanted to bring new and interesting techniques and silhouettes to the dirndl market... but how do you do all of that in 10 pieces!?

I worked very hard trying to make a collection that was cohesive as a group, creative and enticing. I ended up using 3 color groups, Neutral, Cool, and Warm. The Neutral group is that largest with 5 pieces, then the cool group with 3 and the warm with 2. However many pieces will be offered in multiple colors. I had a hard time designing a line that felt inspired and creative when they all had such similar silhouettes.

I decided that for the first line, i would keep the silhouettes similar and bring in new colors and textures. I am using satin for the dirndls instead of the typical polyester or cotton. I am also using a very beautiful burnout fabric for some aprons as well as a wrinkled polyester print. I am also using a leopard print. I have gotton some mixed reviews regarding the fabric, but i think its great! The fabric itself never looks wrinkly! The other satins do wrinkle, but its no worse than your average cotton dirndl... it will de-wrinkle itself much better in the heat of a regular summer day whereas cotton will not.

I'm also using gold for zippers, hooks and chains. I feel that many young people do not like gold as much as silver, but it just feels right with this collection and i saw much more gold in paris this past summer than i had ever seen before.

My next concern was price. I want to do all these cool things, but its too expensive. I have worked diligently to make sure that line is priced properly. With the fabrics i've purchased, the trimmings i'm using and the techniques and quality i bring to the table, I feel my prices are fair. Are they more expensive than other American dirndl companies, yes. Are they more interesting they other American dirndls, yes. They are very competitive prices in terms of other German companies that have similar design ideas, but their prices are in euros and you'll have to pay international shipping. So in the end i do feel that my prices are more than fair.

Will the gold chains make people not want to buy the design? Will the prices turn people away? Will everything look as beautiful in real life as it does in my head? Oh the joys of designing!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


My collection for 2010 is inspired by a place i have been longing to visit since i was a child. It has fascinated me with its colors, wildlife and magnificence. The eeriness that exudes from it and the danger that the wild animals present inspired the collection entitled Rainforest by Night. The Amazon rainforest is a vast area filled with exotic creatures such as the jaguar, spider monkeys, and tree frogs, just to name a few (my favs). The colors and textures of the animals inspired the colors and textures of the fabrics for the dirndls and the rainforest birds became in the inspiration for the headpieces.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What are you doing now?

Many people have asked me, many time... "What are you doing now?" After graduating from Dominican University with a degree with distinction in apparel design, traveled to Paris to study couture techniques and when i came home, i decided that i was going to go for it... start a fashion line. I had interned with a small chicago based line, evil kitty, in 2008 and attended the business of fashion seminars presented by the apparel industry board, so i knew what i was in for... kinda. Advise that i had heard was "do it while your young and ambitious because once you know what it takes, you won't want to do it". I didn't know whether this was supposed to discourage or encourage me, but i took it as inspiration.

In January, i started a business, Erika Neumayer Designs. This is the umbrella business that covers the dirndl line and any other lines i may start in the future. The first line is called Rare. It is a german folk costume line with a twist. I noticed that many german dirndl companies were clearly surpassing the US dirndl companies in terms of style and innovation and i wanted to be at that competitive level. I'm using different fabrics and textures that are not seen in the American market. My line is not covered in little flowers and edelweiss embroidery, its big, bold and unique. I am aware that this line is not for everyone, but if it was, no one would stand out. A Rare dirndl is not your oma's dirndl.

But what does "starting a fashion line" mean? It means that i am like any other company that sells their product to stores except i have my own online store. I designed a 10 piece collection which includes 1 couture dirndl, 7 sale able dirndls, a vest and skirt, as well as a vest and shorts. After the designs were finalized, i bought the fabrics and supplies, made all the patterns and i am currently working on the samples. Once the samples are complete, i will have a photo shoot with professional models, photographer and hair and makeup stylists. Those photos will go on the website where anyone can access them and then you can purchase the garments from the website.... which will be launched in April.

There is so much other business, design and promo stuff that goes into it all, but that is what i am doing in a nutshell.