The Interview: Katie Ermilio
Katie Ermilio is known for her signature feminine details, master tailoring, and exquisite fabrics.
Can you tell me about launching your line, and what it is like to come from such an accomplished fashion family?
It’s amazing to have grown up in a family clothing company that has such a strong appreciation for construction and the way things are made. That sense of quality, tradition and history has remained one of the most definitive influences on my aesthetic and who I am as a designer.
What were your first professional experiences in the industry?
I worked in editorial, first as an intern at Vogue magazine, and then as a PR assistant at Teen Vogue.
Can you share a bit about your experience as a member of the CFDA Incubator program?
The mentorships the designers have access to in the program is indescribable, that was certainly a highlight of being in the Incubator for me. The CFDA is an amazing family to be a part of, and the relationships we built within the program are ones we keep for life which is such an incredible thing.
Tell me a little bit about your creative process and inspiration. Where did you begin for the Fall 2016 collection?
I develop a lot of my own textiles and for me that is really where each season begins. For Fall 2016 the focus was driven by florals and lush greenscapes, but in a subdued way that comes through in both the palette and the laces.
I’d love to hear about your very first wholesale sales season. What were your early challenges and victories? How have those evolved to today?
It was certainly a thrilling (and nerve wracking) experience! As a designer, it’s so important that your product is able to reach and connect with your customer. There’s a certain magic in the discovery, and stores, both in brick-and-mortar and in the digital world, give women access to encounter and engage with your work.
How has your relationship evolved with the press since launching your line? What role does digital play in your strategy as a businesswoman?
Press and red carpet are such an important part of connecting with your audience. It really always has been, but it feels even more so today with the access our customers have to the entire process through social media. Our customers are more engaged and informed than ever before, and being able to reach them through red carpet photos, a memorable interview, or a blog feature is amazing. It’s something that lives on and can be reposted, retweeted, and liked again and again creating a continuous connection.
As a designer, what are your greatest challenges? How have they evolved over the past year, two years, three years?
It’s interesting how your challenges grow, but also stay very much the same. Starting my own line was the biggest chance that I have ever taken, and also the biggest challenge. Yet at the risk of sounding cheesy, it’s pretty exciting that I get to design clothes every day.
Your line is exquisitely made, from the custom developed fabrics and laces to the shapes and silhouettes. Who inspires your aesthetic? Do you have style icons?
I’m really drawn to things that are tightly edited and well curated, whether it be clothing or otherwise. I strive to keep my silhouettes feminine and sophisticated, but also clean and effortless for the wearer. Touches of feminine detail balanced with minimalism allows the collections to remain fresh and youthful while remaining inherently feminine.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring fashion designers and fashion students, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and work really really hard, it’s one of the many ways you’ll grow into the designer you’re meant to become.
What’s next for Katie Ermilio?
I’m not certain yet, but if the upcoming year is anything like the last five I know that it will be filled with a lot of clothes, growing collections, and incredible excitement.