Katherine (Katy) Gerdes

The very last thing Katherine Gerdes could ever claim is to “have always dreamed about becoming a designer.” Quite the opposite: As a preschooler, her mother couldn’t even bribe her into a dress. While other little girls wore frilly “fancy nancy” clothes, her mother couldn’t beg her out of her old non-descript jeans or overalls. In elementary school, while others begged their parents for the latest brand name jeans, Katherine’s uniform was a basic T and non-descript black leggings. And when her photography skills got her into the prestigious Minnesota State Arts High School, Katherine hated all the cool “must have” clothes everyone else was wearing, and to rebel against all the “sameness,” she simply started making her own clothes, and in turn, developing her own style. Yet she was still fascinated by the world from behind the lens of a camera.

Admitted into Rhode Island School of Design as a Photography Major, she signed up for a clothing design class as a lark, and the turning point came when an instructor insisted she take a closer look at switching her major to Apparel Design.

From that point, Katherine never looked back. Immersing herself into clothing design, she absorbed everything RISD had to offer: technique, style, color, patterns, fabrication, construction. No project was ever taken lightly, no design ever made without passion. Instructors noticed, choosing her projects for press releases, RISD promotions, Apparel Design Department catalogs and more, even MTV aired a segment showcasing Katherine as well as other talented fashion designers at RISD.

Immediately upon graduation, Gerdes landed a plum job as Design Coordinator at Target Corporation’s headquarters in Minneapolis, then was promoted to Associate Textile Designer at the trend-defining retailer. Yet “doing her own thing” still calls, so Katherine also produces her own line in her private studio tucked behind Hell’s Kitchen, a breakfast hot spot owned by her family. The Katherine Gerdes line sells at Design Collective, a Minneapolis showcase for local talent. Her designs have been featured in Mpls/St. Paul Magazine as well as presented at the top fashion shows in town, from DIVA, the show-stopping AIDS fundraiser, to edgy artistic shows at the Walker Art Center which turn the Twin Cities fashion world upside down.

With this background, one would think extravagant and elaborative would be Katherine’s signature, yet her fun lines are focused, functional, and above all, designed for real people and mandated to be comfortable. “When I’m designing,” explains Gerdes, “I try to keep the thought ‘would I wear this?’ in the back of my mind. It’s not that I design with the intention on making a new wardrobe for myself, but I like to think that if I would be uncomfortable wearing it, then maybe I should re-think the design. Whether it’s casual, everyday clothes or a special “one time” evening gown, I believe that no matter how creative and original designs are, if the person wearing it isn’t comfortable, then it defeats the purpose. If it feels good, you’ll look good. It’s that simple.”

Katherine Gerdes: a quiet young designer with a kick who insists clothing should have an edge yet be wearable, comfortable and marketable. It really is simple. And not too bad for a self-proclaimed anti-fashionista.


Katherine Gerdes

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If you're interested in finding out more about what makes me tick check out my journal where I write about fashion design, snowboarding, and other things that I'm interested in.

If you want to see what kind of work I do you should check out my portfolio. and my resume.

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