Nili Lotan loves New York. And New York, and all her fashionistas, from Renée Zellweger to Kendall Jenner, love her French military pants.
Those pants were polished for 23 years in the clothing district of his adoptive city. And now Lotan wants to give back to his city with a love letter to health workers on the front line.
Before launching her eponymous brand in 2004, the New York-based Israeli-born designer cut her teeth working for some of the industry’s leading motors and shakers. She learned her knitting game on Adrienne Vittadini’s knee, then brushed her shirt dress at Liz Claiborne, before moving on to lead the design teams at Ralph Lauren and Nautica.
But it was Lotan’s desire to express her own point of view that ultimately led her to start her own brand.
“After designing in other people’s vision for 20 years, I felt the need to express myself and do things from my point of view, and that’s why I started [my brand]. Since I was there, my main goal was to really capture and define what I am offering compared to someone else. “
Lotan launched his six-piece, self-financing label, including two jackets and four cotton pants in Lotan’s signature style, known as the “French Military” cropped pants, which remain his best-selling pants today.
“I was looking for something that could replace denim, in the sense of how laid-back and carefree it is, and at the same time it’s kind of sexy and works for morning and night. And I came up with this concept of designing cotton pants that had a utilitarian feel to make them feel great and serve women in their spare time, ”Lotan explains.
What started as just a six-piece collection has grown into a multi-billion dollar business with three retail stores, along with a thriving e-commerce website and run by 300 specialty stores and online retailers worldwide. Not to mention, the Lotan label has gained a celebrity following that includes chic It girls like Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Karlie Kloss.
Lotan is now using its platform to help healthcare workers. Working with Masks4Medicine, a New York-based base organization of doctors and nurses that supplies personal protective equipment to front-line workers, has recruited its shop team to make masks and caps by sending sewing machines and reused fabric to their homes.
“This has been very successful and rewarding and we plan to continue to do so,” says Lotan.
But the designer wanted to find a way to connect with buyers in a deeper way. His solution: create a special section on his website called NL Stories, where he shares his thoughts, feelings and everyday stories.
On the fashion front, Lotan recently launched a “Nili Lotan Loves New York” limited-edition capsule collection of comfortable camouflage hoodies and masks, and he’s donating 15 percent of all clothing proceeds along with 100 percent percent of the masks proceeds to NYU Langone Hospital.
“I love this city. I live here, I raised my daughter here and I manufacture here. I felt compelled to act and the need to contribute where I could,” Lotan explains.
Lotan hopes to raise at least $ 20,000; And based on the public flow of fans rushing to shop for the “Nili Lotan Loves New York” collection, the designer should have no problem meeting her goal.
“We have been selling 600 to 700 masks a day and it has only been a few days,” he says. “My entire website has become ‘Nili Lotan Loves New York’; That’s all we’re selling right now because we put it at a more attractive price and 15 percent of the proceeds go to NYU Langone Hospital, so everyone is there. “Says Lotan.
In an effort to reach a larger number of women, Lotan shipped a handful of his pieces from loyal capsule buyers. As a result, “Nili Lotan Loves New York” became a social media sensation.
“Many people were touched by themselves and started sharing it on their feeds and, before they knew it, it became a success.”
To top it off, the designer now offers personal design sessions on her website in hopes of helping clients with all their wardrobe needs.
“When I realized that everyone is at Zoom right now, I said to myself, ‘How can I use Zoom to sell? “And we came up with this concept of electronic purchasing,” Lotan explains.
NL “New York Brady” T-shirt, $ 78 in Nili Lotan
NL New York “Callie” Zip-Up Hoodie, $ 199 at Nili Lotan
For fashionistas looking for a little style tip, just head over to the website and select “Book Now” to schedule an appointment with one of the label’s talented stylists.
Next, the designer hopes to launch a Nili Lotan sample sale site to give shoppers a chance to get discounted products without having to deal with the crazy crowds. “I am looking to start a website that is a vehicle for me to do sample sales online because I think people will no longer queue and get together,” says Lotan.
But for now, Lotan is focusing on work and trying to stay positive at a time when innovation is key.
“There is something about those little wins I have every day that keep me positive and optimistic and I feel like I can do it.”