Erika Neumayer was born in Chicago, IL and is passionate about keeping the production of her products in Chicago as well. Her journey in the fashion industry started with her bachelors degree with distinction in Apparel Design from Dominican University. Her sophomore year, Erika received the Up and Coming Designer of the year award at the 2007 Dominican University Fashion show. That May she also traveled to Ghana, West Africa to study the prominent textile industry. That trip, she says, “opened my eyes to the world of cultural textile and dress”. In 2008, Erika designed and created eight garments for the Dominican University Fashion show and once again came away with the Up and Coming Designer of the year award.
In 2009, Erika won first place in the AATCC 2009 C2C®/CITDA Design Competition for product design with her collection of maternity wear entitled Footsteps. As part of the prize, Erika was sent to Goa, India to represent the United States with her line and compete at an international level. Also that year, Erika continued her studies in Paris, France. At the Paris-American Academy, she learned multiple couture techniques and learned more about fashion and cultural dress. And then in 2010, Rare Dirndl was born! Realizing the need to a fresh, modern, and edgy twist on the traditional dress, she designed her first collection and released it in March and has been rocking the world with her dirndl and menswear designs ever since!
Why design dirndls and tracht? Since 1990, Erika has been a member of the American Aid Society of German Descendants. In 2001, when she joined the Jugendgruppe, she knew she had found her home. Being of Donauschwaben descent, she felt a strong connection with the people involved and the culture behind the organization. After she graduated from design school, she saw a hole in the American dirndl market that needed to be filled and she was happy do it "There was a glaringly obvious lack of anything fresh, modern or edgy in American dirndl market. German dirndl designers were worlds ahead of us and thats not acceptable in my eyes!"
Her passion for the culture led her to create the line Rare Dirndl, which combines modern fashion trends with traditional German, Austrian and Swiss costume. “There is nothing I would rather be creating. Designing tracht allows me to push myself creatively and be involved in the fashion industry.”