Designer Nili Lotan shares her inspiration
The designer's sensibility has attracted everyone from celebrities to women who shop at J. Crew.
Fashion designer Nili Lotan has been designing timeless pieces that integrate seamlessly into women’s lifestyles for decades. Lotan's acute understanding of what women want in their clothes has attracted everyone from celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore and Chanel Iman, to women who shop at J.Crew. Lotan previously collaborated with the retailer to produce a collection of relaxed, beautiful basics.
“My design philosophy really starts and ends with the idea that your clothes should be about making you feel good,” Lotan told From The Grapevine. “They should be pieces that you feel at home in. They should be an extension of your personality and lifestyle. They should be effortless, sexy and give you confidence at the same time.”
Lotan’s passion for clothes and art came from her mother growing up in Tel Aviv. “My mother was a textile designer and she also made clothes for us, which was my first exposure to fashion.”
Lotan was born in Netanya, Israel, and earned a fashion degree from the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, near Tel Aviv. “I was not originally sure if I would study fashion or architecture, and at that point it didn’t matter to me if it was clothes or buildings; I am passionate about making the idea a reality.”
In 1980, she moved to New York City and began a successful career working for some of fashion’s most respected ready-to-wear companies – including Liz Claiborne, Ralph Lauren, Adrienne Vittadini and Nautica.
It was Ralph Lauren that helped Lotan recognize the value of establishing a strong brand identity, and remaining true to that vision.
“Ralph has a very strong understanding, from both a design and marketing perspective, of who he is, what his aesthetic is, and who he designs for,” Lotan told From The Grapevine. “And he sticks to it. It was the most design-driven company I have experienced in my career. At Ralph Lauren, I learned to protect my vision and to stick to it.”
In 2003, Lotan launched her eponymous line, which was funded with the help of Nautica founder David Chu. Since then, Lotan has produced approximately 200 different styles per season and The Nili Lotan collection can be found online and at specialty boutiques and upscale department stores throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia, including Japan.
Lotan’s experiences growing up in Tel Aviv and launching her brand in New York City have helped to define her design aesthetic and cadence.
“Tel Aviv inspires me for the more laid back, casual way of dressing,” says Lotan. “The overall feeling of being on the Mediterranean gives a relaxed attitude that I incorporate into my clothing. I love the culture in Tel Aviv – the art, the music; the people are very open, very intelligent, politically astute and interesting."
New York, she says, inspires her with the make of the garment and its quality. “The lifestyle in New York enables a different dress code that is more elegant, elevated,” say Lotan. “I try to incorporate the chic of New York into the comfort and unfussy style of my clothes.”
Lotan’s hybrid boutique and studio in Tribeca, N.Y., sells her own designs as well as a rotating selection of art, rare books and vintage finds. Lotan says she hopes to offer customers a serene experience that’s, as she put it, “a gallery feel, and at the same time, a very personable experience.”
Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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