Faith in fashion: How Elhoffer Design’s Catherine Elhoffer created a stylish collection for the beloved Valiant superhero
By Lisa Granshaw
Faith Herbert, known as the superhero Zephyr, first appeared in Valiant Entertainment’s Harbinger series and it wasn’t long before she became a fan favorite. The character received a miniseries in 2016 before starring in an ongoing series, winning over even more fans and earning critical acclaim along the way. Now the superhero is starring in a brand-new medium as Valiant revealed a new fashion collection inspired by Faith this week.
The line, designed by Catherine Elhoffer of Elhoffer Design, is available exclusively at ThinkGeek. (Disclosure: ThinkGeek links in this article are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission.) It includes a longline cardigan, unisex sweater, and cropped cardigan that all feature the Harbinger logo and the familiar teal and white colors of Faith’s costume. The sizes also reflect the spirit of the plus-size hero, ranging from extra small to 4X.
To find out more about the collection, we interviewed Elhoffer over email about how the line was created, why they settled on these three designs, and more.
How did the opportunity to create this collection come about and how long have you been working on it?
Catherine Elhoffer: In November of 2016 I received an email that left my head spinning. The licensing team at Valiant Entertainment, the company behind the Faith comic, were asking me if I'd be willing to work with them on a specialty collection for their plus-sized superhero. They went on to explain who she was (and I already knew because she's all over the Tumblrs I follow) and who they were and they buttered me up with compliments on my designs and that they loved how subtle they were as well as how I designed for curves. It's not hard to convince me to team up with anyone, so long as I like the brand and I adore Faith! So, I was just thrilled. We coordinated times for a skype call, and then in early January 2017 we had a solid plan in place and I had sketched out some ideas that they loved!
How involved was Valiant in the process of developing the line and at what point in the process did ThinkGeek become involved?
Elhoffer: Valiant was incredibly hands on and it was so important to me that they approve of every step or change, and even made important changes too! The first samples we did of the Faith cardigans didn't have the logo on the shoulder, they were just teal and white color blocking. It took their eyes to call out that we needed a bit more branding on it to make it clear it's Faith and not a handful of other characters that use those same colors. Since I've been living in the colorblocking, simplistic realm for the past few years I absolutely needed their eye and input on that!
After we had the first batch of samples in March/April of 2017 we started talking sales and where the pieces would be available. Initially we both thought that we could sell on our respective sites, but I have wanted to work with ThinkGeek for years and felt this might be a good collection for them to join in on. So I reached out to them through some of my own connections and they were super excited to meet and see the samples. We met at SDCC and I brought all the pieces and they tried them all on. They were just as excited as I was about it, which is just a dream come true!
How did you settle on these three designs for the collection and why were these the items you wanted to include?
Elhoffer: Our initial samples included a fourth piece which had to be dropped due to price (it was very expensive and with a character that hasn't had merchandise made at this level before it's already a huge step to take doing these pieces), but from the dozen sketches I did, these pieces were the ones that really stood out as simple but clean, easy to wear and style, and great for the office or workplace. All important factors for me, because as much as I'd love to do a gown or crazy dress on the first-round launch, those are much harder to sell. These sweaters are all also perfect for the weather right now, too. We weren't sure when starting this process what season they'd drop in, but I had a feeling it'd be more around winter. So sweaters are always a good piece to grab when it's colder out!
Did working on this collection differ from working on your previous lines in any ways? Were there different challenges here or did it stand out in other ways?
Elhoffer: What was so great about Valiant is that they made this incredibly easy and enjoyable for me. Rather than reporting back to them for changes, because they were always so open and honest about their thoughts it felt more like a true collaboration and they made it fun to chat with them! Of course I normally only report to my customers and fans, sharing with them changes or new things. And while people certainly have ideas of what I should do, at the end of the day it's what I feel is best. But it's great to have other people to work with and bounce ideas off of! The greatest challenge was my patience; I normally never sit on samples for nearly a year before talking about them! I had to stay quiet and not say anything at all, which is very hard for me because I love to connect with my fans and customers and share the excitement I have for everything I'm doing!
How long have you been a Faith fan? What do you find inspiring about the character?
Elhoffer: I've known about Faith/Zephyr for probably four years now; I follow some superhero blogs on Tumblr that will share comic art and show love to more alternative superheroes and she's often featured, since few heroes have the curves she has. So I've read pieces of her story there, and I've picked her comics up at comic shops when glancing, loving her personality and her charisma. But I have had little time to actually sit and read comics in the past few years, so my interest in her was that of a casual fan. What I absolutely adore about her is that she is a total fangirl. She talks and thinks like me, and I just love that she believes in herself and loves her body, even if it's not the size society tells her it should be. Plus, I've always wanted to fly. I don't want any other power, flight is all I need.
Is there anything else about the line you’d like to share with readers?
Elhoffer: I'm incredibly proud to say the entire collection was manufactured in Los Angeles with one of my local knit houses. It's something I've been able to maintain even with this collection and the growth I've had. I'm so thrilled to keep it local, because there are amazing knit and sewing houses here in the U.S. that have been seeing a drop in orders as companies outsource and look for cheaper apparel, but I was able to keep it local and help support my local economy. Although it did mean the Los Angeles wildfires that broke out in December had me worried because they were getting real close to the factory and even shut it down for a few days.
Do you have any other collections coming out soon that you can tease for our readers?
Elhoffer: Ha, I've got so much going on my head is in a billion places. I'm doing a lot more sweaters coming up and not just because it's finally cold in L.A. I'm working a lot with Pinup Girl Clothing and getting some things designed and manufactured for them which has me very excited. I've got plenty more that will be coming to my webstore soon, too. I would absolutely love to work more with ThinkGeek, as they're my go-to site for nerdy things and I of course would love to bring even more of the designs I did for Valiant to life! But for now, I'm focusing a bit on some enamel pins for my customers and some cool caped-cardigans as well!
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