I started Rare Dirndl because, as an active member of the German community in Chicago, I was so disappointed to see that Germany's dirndl designs were lightyears ahead of the designs coming out of the US. So, I decided to change that!
I am committed to bringing you high-quality dirndls, menswear, blouses and accessories that are fashion forward, yet still give a nod to the Bavarian, Austrian and Swiss Alpine traditions.
Rare Dirndl was founded in 2010 and has been growing ever since. Owner and designer, Erika Neumayer started the clothing line in her parent's dining room and living room when searching for a fashion forward dirndl in America seemed impossible. She knew there was a demand for this type of product because many people had expressed their frustration to her as well. Her first collection, Rainforest, pushed the boundaries by using unconventional dirndl fabrics, textures & silhouettes and included the best-selling dirndl (the only one of its kind) The Leopard Dirndl.
In 2011, she added menswear to her collection and sweaters in 2012. In 2013, Erika moved the business to the Rare Dirndl Design Studio in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, (after her parents subtly pointed out that she had taken over the dining room, living room, sister's bedroom, basement, backyard shed, and occasionally the kitchen… haha oopsie!). And in 2014, she added custom Bridal designs and jewelry by Chicago jewelry designer, Kristen Hunger to the line.
Growing up in Chicago, starting her business in Chicago and opening a Design Studio in Chicago is just 1 of the many reasons Erika is passionate about keeping all the production local. Erika designs and creates the first samples in the studio and the inventory is cut and sewn within 10 miles of Lincoln Square.
You can check out all Rare Dirndl products on this site or get to know the brand better by following Erika and the Rare Dirndl team on Facebook (Facebook.com/raredirndl), Instagram (@raredirndl), or YouTube (youtube.com/erikaneumayer)
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 for 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 to do it. "There was a glaringly obvious lack of anything fresh, modern or edgy in the American dirndl market. German dirndl designers were worlds ahead of us and that's 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 dirndls and tracht allows me to push myself creatively and be involved in the fashion industry and the German community.”