Hero Within and Elhoffer Design on teaming up for their new Justice League women’s collection
There’s only one more week before Justice League brings some of DC Comics’ biggest heroes together on the big screen, but you don’t have to wait to go to the movies to find an impressive team up. You can find one right in the geek fashion world with Hero Within and Elhoffer Design, who joined forces earlier this year to create a women’s fashion line inspired by the Justice League.
The collection was announced in October with a sneak peek showing a number of dress and sweater designs. Tony Kim, CEO of Hero Within, told GeekFold that they always knew the company would expand beyond men and that items for women have been the number one request they’ve received from fans. The company received the men’s license from DC when they launched and had to wait to pursue ladies apparel until they received the women’s license. They finally earned their way to expand into women’s apparel this year and were granted the DC women’s license in July. At that point, Kim knew he wanted to work with Catherine Elhoffer, founder of Elhoffer Design.
“I knew that I wanted to work with Katie not only because of her style and sensibilities, but also because of all of the technical aspects of women’s wear. I wanted to make sure to get it right,” he said. “I wanted to make sure our new and growing female fan base is pleased and I wanted to make sure that not only the design is right, but it fits right as well as the quality is good. I knew Catherine would be a great person to work with.”
Elhoffer has a lot of experience working in women’s geek fashion. She creates beautiful, subtle clothing inspired by a range of fandoms. According to Elhoffer, when Kim approached her about working together she said yes because she’s always interested in teaming up with people and growing her business.
“We went back and forth talking about a couple of ideas of what the collection would be in the first place because I’m on a big maxi skirt kick right now and maxi dresses in general and he wanted something more office wear which then put me into pencil skirt, fitted dress mode,” Elhoffer told GeekFold. “It turned into the collection it is now. I think I initially gave him 20-something designs and we narrowed it down to those.”
The process had to move at a rather quick pace since the goal was to have designs out in time for Justice League’s release. Once they decided on the current line of dresses and sweaters, Kim said it moved quickly from there because of Elhoffer’s experience.
The designs are subtle while referencing the heroes that inspired them. It’s a style that’s familiar to both companies who have created such designs in the past to varying degrees. While Hero Within’s designs offer subtle options, they also more clearly reference the license that inspires them than the stylish looks of Elhoffer Design. Elhoffer lives in the world of very subtle designs and said working on subtle looks for this line was not a challenge because of that experience. Instead the bigger challenge was trying to not be as subtle as she usually is. According to Elhoffer, she sometimes needed a push to be more obvious.
For Kim, finding that balance between subtle and obvious is a challenge with all their lines and remained one here, though characters like Cyborg and Aquaman presented a unique challenge since they’re not as well-known as the other heroes.
“Cyborg in particular, his coloring and what not, he’s just not a character that we’ve ever seen on screen before this movie so I think just trying to figure out how to make those characters work and how to make it where Aquaman doesn’t look like a mermaid outfit or trying to make it where it’s clear it’s those characters and it’s not that difficult to understand the inspiration for it. I think those two characters are always tough,” he said. “Batman is easy because he has the ears, the striking black, grey, yellow combo, and Wonder Woman again is similar to Batman. It’s relatively easy to put that gold W somewhere and go from there, but the characters that have yet to be really in the forefront in people’s minds, that’s always a little bit of a challenge.”
Another challenge was sweater production.
“I don’t have a lot of experience in the sweater production side of things and that’s a whole other beast when you talk about fits and what you can and cannot do and what kind of detailing you can do and all that. I was grateful to get [Katie’s] help on the sweater design and production because that’s a whole other animal,” he said. “Just trying to figure out how do you create the logos and textures and detailing all through woven yarn and all that is much different than what we’ve done in the past so there was a natural textile sort of challenge when it came to the sweaters.”
Elhoffer’s created an amazing range of sweaters over the years.
“Sweaters are my jam. I love sweaters and making character sweaters,” she told GeekFold. “I did that at WeLoveFine. I do that now. It’s my favorite thing. The sweater part was really easy with the exception of licensing restrictions that Warner Bros. was placing on a couple of the characters.”
The line is currently coming out in phases for preorder. The Wonder Woman and Batman dresses are available now and fans will be happy to hear that all of the dresses include pockets.
“The Wonder Woman and Batman dresses both have front pockets. I figured out how I wanted them done when I was doing my Avengers-inspired collection last year. The way I did them was a clean and simple way to do pockets on bodycon without making it bulky at the hip. It’s sitting at the front part of the hip, not the side of the hip, which is always better for ladies’ bodies,” Elhoffer explained.
There’s much more on the way from both companies as well. Kim said this is only the beginning of ladies wear at Hero Within and options on the men’s side will continue to expand. Elhoffer is consistently releasing new items and this is just the start of her licensed work. She’s actually been working on a license for a beloved comic book character that will be sold by ThinkGeek soon.