TLP interviews Katja Ehrhardt from Hamburg, Germany. This interview took place over email in May of 2008. Katja also runs a parallel career with her High Gloss Dolls website in which many models wear her designs.
Q: How did you get started in the industry?
A: I worked for a fetish designer in Hamburg and soon started my own lingerie line, as I always thought that is what latex is made for: sexy lingerie.
Q: Did/do you work with fabrics other than latex?
A: I shoot with other fabrics, but I manufacture only latex-lingerie. for Fun I do sometimes hats and bags non-latex, but thats it.
Q: What special techniques are needed to work with latex?
A: I think you have to be skilled to work with your hands and fingers, as you don’t use machines to do it, and you have to be patient.
Q: How would you divide up your customer base?
A: That is very hard to say as I usually don’t meet my customers, I only sell over the internet and an email is all I get.
Q: Did you get formal training for your craft?
A: No, my teacher was an self-trained artist and I got most of my knowledge from him. I always thought about studying or getting a formal training, but I have more fun in being free and and just keep on doing things.
Q: Your collection mixes traditional lingerie design, fetish design, and some pencil skirts done in latex. How do you decide what pieces to create?
A: I just do what I like to see on my models and put it in my shop and see if other people like it as well. I don’t have a straight business plan and enjoy just doing what I feel like. Luckily my customers like my style and so I get along quite well with it.
Q: How do you go from sketch to sale?
A: I store my sketches sometimes years, and then I discover them again and have a shooting and as soon as there is a photo, I can put it in my shop!
Q: Is their a mix with off the peg and bespoke work?
A: I mostly do made-to-measure when people order my outfits because I ask for the measurements anyway.
Q: Have you found cross-over appeal with traditional fashion and your molded stockings?
A: Many designers use stockings and gloves as accessories nowadays. It was exciting at the beginning, but by now it is boring again, at least for me. Often magazines lend my outfits, but at the end they only used the stockings and gloves. I guess they feel the rest is still too much “fetish”. I don’t share that opinion.
Q: You have a great sense of modern pinup styles like the Valence Suspender Skirt and the Cup Body and the Hotpant. Where do you find inspiration?
A: Pin-up is always everywhere I guess. You don’t have to be a fan of pin-up to be influenced by it. It is just very feminine and cute and that is what I like. I don’t see my style very pin-up, but most people do. I find inspiration everywhere, but mostly I am inspired by my models. when I retouch photos and see their bodies on my screen, different outfits pop up in my mind.
Q: Do you have plans to expand your market or does the Internet provide the reach you need?
A: I am very happy with my online-shop and I appreciate the freedom it gives me. I have often thought about expanding, but then I would be trapped with a company I am responsible for. I want to keep it small and flexible for the moment.