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Erika Neumayer '09

The freedom to explore distinctive areas of the field helped Erika Neumayer ’09 create Rare, her own clothing line. Rare features German-style clothing called Dirndl with a "modern spin."

At Dominican, Neumayer researched Dirndl clothing companies in the U.S. and, in her words, found most products to be “boring.” So she decided to start her own line of Dirndl, and in the past two years she has designed six mini collections.

Neumayer has been active in the German community since she was young, performing German folk dancing since the age of five. She is a member of the Chicago Aid Society of German Decendants, and while at Dominican she explored the traditional costumes of the Donauschwaben people.

Currently, she sells her Dirndl clothing online through her website erikaneumayer.com and at German festivals around the country. She says that she typically sells out at festivals.

“When everyone else at festivals is wearing traditional Lederhosen, my clothing really stands out,” she says.

She’s been doing so well that she recently hired patternmakers to help her keep up with demand. This summer she will be opening a store in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, the heart of Chicago’s German community, where she will design, sew and sell her clothing. 

“I know what my customer needs and wants, but I also have this limitation of having to keep it appropriate for this niche market. Sometimes it’s as simple as putting an edelweiss button on a garment and sometimes it’s more complex.”

Neumayer says she’s up to the challenge, largely due to the preparation she received during college. She credits the collaborative environment of the department with helping her refine her style and ideas: “When you’re out there on your own you miss that collaboration and feedback.”