Just a few weeks ago, when high-end accessory brand Christian Louboutin announced their partnership with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the news was met on a several fronts with a note of surprise. But for those of us plugged in to what’s going on in geek fashion, the addition of the top-end brand to the pantheon of geek-lady-targeted apparel and accessories felt like a natural progression of the movement—further proof of the rise in the legitimacy of adult geek women as a market force. With luxury brands such as Dooney & Bourke and Nixon wristwatches already making headway (and profits) in the geek-targeted space, it’s no wonder that other brands want in on the action.
Leading the charge in grown-up apparel and accessories has been Elhoffer Design, helmed by Los Angeles designer and costumer, Catherine Elhoffer. Since its inception, the brand has been at the forefront of the upward evolution of geek style from its humble beginnings in the graphic t-shirt aisle to today’s plentiful and stylish offerings.
From my conversation with Catherine tonight, I learned that the brand was born out of the way she wanted to dress herself. Having worked for and with existing brands moving into the geek space, she had seen—in an up-close and personal way—how established brands, already secure in their market share, were unwilling to branch out into the styles she was interested in creating. “It’s scary,” she said, to explain their position. The primary reaction she got was: “it’s too expensive; our customers aren’t going to buy it.”
“That’s a lie!” Catherine emphatically declared. “a woman will spend between $100 and $300 on a garment… if it is well-made, and well-designed (and if it has pockets!) I promise you.”
She believed in that message so strongly that she set out to prove its point. In the early days of her business, she says she was met with “a surge of women” coming to her looking for exactly what she had to offer and the brand has grown by leaps and bounds ever since. Focused on the adult customer, and particularly mindful of fit and quality, Catherine describes her line as being at the intersection of accessible and aspirational. She calls it “the sweet spot.” She’s neither interested in moving into the fast-fashion or the ultra-luxury marketplace. “I hate fashion,” she said with a hearty chuckle before qualifing her statement by adding, “I hate seeing something that’s so unattainable for a regular human being to wear…. It’s so unaffordable….”
When asked about proudest accomplishments in the industry, Catherine made sure I knew: “while I can’t truly claim credit for it, there’s a direct… line of pockets [in dresses in geek fashion] and it started with me.” And when asked as to ambitions for expanding the brand, she declared, “I’m seeking world domination.” If the number of Elhoffer Design garments in tonight’s audience was any indication, she’s well on her way.
But Elhoffer Design was only one of the brands featured in the 2017 Geekbound Fashion Show. Nine brands in all brought their wares to show to the full house of excited attendees. Held at the Fremont Foundry in Seattle on the eve of the kickoff of Geek Girl Con 2017, the show was set up to attract nerd ladies from around the country and the world to examine the next wave in high-end geek fashion.
The show did not disappoint.
The Geekbound show opened with selections from Spider Baby. Their collection was full of edgy looks with goth-inspired prints for all ages and genders. Standout pieces for kinds and teens were of particular interest.
Then came the collection from Effie’s Heart. The brand showed a series of adorably wearable dresses that were flattering to every shape, with skirts the models couldn’t help but twirl in.
The portion of the show featuring Caraucci included a few fun, quirky dresses, and a hooded black shrug with a surprise inside. But the highlight of the offerings from Caraucci had to be their perfectly tailored, pants. The trousers, sporting signature Caraucci detail, looked great on models of all shapes, and paired well with blouses from tailored to tunic.
Frock Shop hit the runway with a selection of mix-and-match separates in whimsical prints in a clear range of sizes. The fun tops that were shown alongside Caraucci pants were a great reminder of how to make multiple geek brands work together in one wardrobe.
Pepa Loves gave us a great show of knitwear featuring prints from bats to cats. They also made use of the child models to further highlight their range of sizes.
Deela Designs was the second athletileisure brand to show tonight. Their signature leggings featuring metallic detail showed themselves tonight in every iteration from the X-Files to Original Trek. Both the Empire and the Rebellion made an appearance on the Deela runway, and the designer has more than one mermaid on offer.
Next up was Volante Design, whose “superhuman streetwear” hit the runway in styles for all genders. Their featured collection of hoodies sported tailored details and futuristic sensibilities—a collection ranging from the perfectly practical to the sublimely showy.
Rounding out the show was the night’s featured brand, Elhoffer Design. The collection tonight included a variety of dresses that ran the fandom gamut from Doctor Who to Harry Potter to Star Wars and back. Ensembles ranged from dressy to casual and sizes ranged from kids to plus. Two standout pieces were a bright pink and blue Spiderman cape and a sample Ghostbusters (“Slimer”) sweater that was so adorable the model tried to buy it off the runway. Many of the pieces shown tonight could be styled as costumes, but would be welcome by many as day-to-day wear. Can you say “Everyday Cape?”
The fashion on the runway tonight was exquisite and exciting, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to mention the models. The people walking in tonight’s show were recruited via social media (yes! You, too, could possibly walk in a future Geekbound show!) and were intentionally exemplary of geek culture as a whole. There were all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, and ethnicities on the runway tonight. A few of the models were even allowed to show their own cosplay at interludes, allowing them to further express themselves and their passions to the crowd. I was impressed by the diversity on this runway, and I hope to see more like it in the future.
The Geekbound Fashion show was definitely a fantastic prelude to the weekend’s events at Geek Girl Con. Keep your eyes on Tosche Station for convention highlights. Follow @MandaTheGinger on Twitter for more photos from the show and for all the latest from the world of Geek Fashion, check out our friends at White Hot Room.