Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Education: Rhode Island School of Design
The very last thing Katherine Gerdes, 24, could ever claim is to “have always dreamed about becoming a designer.” It’s quite the opposite. As a preschooler, growing up in Minnesota, 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 nondescript 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 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. To rebel against all the “sameness,” she simply started making her own clothes, and, in turn, developed her own style.
Katherine began her studies at Rhode Island School of Design as a Photography Major. She signed up for a clothing design class as a lark, but the turning point came when an instructor insisted she take a closer look at switching her major to Apparel Design. From that point, Katherine immersed herself in clothing design and found her true calling. Immediately upon graduation, she landed a plum job as Design Coordinator at Target Corporation’s headquarters in Minneapolis, and was then was promoted to Associate Textile Designer at the trend-defining retailer.
Katherine also produces her own line in her private studio tucked behind Hell’s Kitchen, a breakfast spot owned by her family. The Katherine Gerdes line sells at Design Collective, a Minneapolis showcase for local talent.
Katherine’s lines are focused, functional, and, above all, designed for real people and mandated to be comfortable. “When I'm designing,” explains Katherine, “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 think that if I would be uncomfortable wearing it, then maybe I should rethink the design.” Katherine currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.