Israeli-American designer Nili Lotan has been creating wardrobe staples for almost 20 years. She says her mission on Earth is to connect with women, and that making clothes is a tool for her to do so. Lotan: "I was never able to find an evening bag that I like.”
Nili Lotan feels that her role on Earth is to connect with women, and that producing clothes—and now accessories!—helps her do so. This is what she tells me on the eve of the introduction of her handbag. Since 2003, when she founded her eponymous line, the Israeli-American designer has been designing refined wardrobe essentials. Lotan has quietly but gradually expanded within the premium industry by focusing on wardrobe-building—that is, outfitting women for their everyday lives—with a growing direct-to-consumer site (she predicts it will reach 60% of her company next year) and expansions into menswear and accessories.
Her most famous feature is her trousers. Gwyneth Paltrow, Kaia Gerber, Jennifer Aniston, and Rihanna have all become lovers of their appealing shapes. You’d think her new handbags would have the same easy-chic vibe. Lotan, on the other hand, is moving toward luxury rather than delivering a conventional tote or an everyday bag. “I tend to respond to my own desires,” she explains, “and this is what I was seeking for.” “I’ve never found an evening bag that I enjoy.”
The five models in the collection include a long, narrow bifold wallet; two clutches, one conventional rectangular with a foldover flap and one saddle-shaped; a tiny chain crossbody with flap; and a real saddle bag, which is the largest type in the collection. All are available in a gleaming black croc embossed leather with gold hardware, which corresponds to the details in her new resort ready-to-wear line.
“These bags round out the look,” Lotan says. “It may be a pair of jeans, a black oversized jacket, and a white t-shirt, and the bag raises it,” she explains, before adding, “Bags inform who you are, and what your attitude is.” You wear it every day, and it becomes your signature, so it becomes significance.” The sophistication of Lotan’s new bags speaks to the direction she wants to take her business and where she sees fashion going.
“I use the term luxury in every interaction about my business,” Lotan explains. “During COVID, something significant happened, and it’s this longing for luxury, but luxury isn’t necessarily having access.” However, it is less about “buying a lot” and more about owning “beautiful things” and cherishing them.
Lotan debuted their menswear collection earlier this year. “I tackled men’s the same way I treated women’s,” she adds, “thinking about a man and what he needs, and how to construct a wardrobe for a man rather than just stating, ‘right, this is what I believe is missing in the market.'” In fact, Lotan wants to be intuitive with what she delivers rather than looking around at what other designers are doing. “Obviously, I’m doing well with the lady, so I want to do the same with the male.”
Her intuition is more than just a gut instinct; it is guided by her personal relationship with her consumers. Lotan will establish three stores in the next weeks, two in New York on Lafayette Street and Prince Street in SoHo, as well as on Gansevoort Street in the meatpacking area, and one in Los Angeles. “I started my business out of my store, and I’m still very much aware of what each store is selling and to whom.” I also have the Shopify app on my phone, where I can view every order that comes in. It reveals a lot to me.”
Lotan also handles all of her social media, so she’s the one who responds to clients’ direct messages about how to dress her items or why their purchase hasn’t come. “What I have to give is myself; my style, my taste, my experience, and everything I’ve learned in the 22 years I’ve worked for other people.” That is my goal here, and I’m here to provide it.”
Nili Lotan (Hebrew: ) is an Israeli-American fashion designer best known as the creator of the designer apparel firm Nili Lotan Design Studio.
Lotan describes the brand as ambitious and well-established in the sweet spot between modern and luxury. Women’s jeans start at $395, which is quite modern, but the company also has jackets ranging from $4000 to $6000.
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