Nili Lotan

Tonie Ong

Shop Nili Lotan Collection

Nili Lotan Collection

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Through the years, the origins of various designers have been as diverse as the styles they present on the runway. A lot of them are mostly from the countries of the biggest fashion capitals, which are Paris (France), Milan (Italy), London (the UK), and New York (United States of America). However, these very cities have been infiltrated by fashion designers coming from countries not really known for their fashionable lifestyles. But because of such designers’ work and eventual prestige, their countries of origins are getting noticed by the important members of the fashion crowd, especially if their work is heavily influenced by their native land. A good example is Nili Lotan.

Nili Lotan is a fashion designer from Israel. Her fashion design throughout the years has been heavily-inspired by her Israeli roots, from the works of her parents to her time at the Israeli Air Force. She is one of the designers today who are unofficial ambassadors of fashion to their countries, especially since their brand identities very much evoke the culture and heritage of their native lands. Lotan’s country of origin is what sets her apart from her contemporaries who originate from the main fashion capitals, specifically because a lot of their styles are already based upon the classic and old-school looks of their major cities.

Military chic

Designer Nili Lotan
Photo: Mimi Ritzen Crawford

After having served in the Israeli Air Force in two years, Nili Lotan immediately studied fashion design. Throughout her academic and professional career, military garb became a huge focal point in many of her designs. It has also become one of her indelible brand signatures, which help make her label stand out against a flurry of other New York high fashion names. She often features neutral-toned pieces, exquisitely-tailored items, and rigid silhouettes that all harken back to army uniforms and military-style dressing. From sturdy jackers, well-cut jumpsuits, and chic cargo pants, Lotan has feminized the once very masculine military look for her urban and modern female customers.

Nili Lotan’s journey to fashion success

Nili Lotan Studio - Photo by Atelier Doré
Nili Lotan Studio – Photo by Atelier Doré

Raised in Netanya. Israel, Nili Lotan absorbed every bit of her Israeli culture and heritage growing up in the Middle Eastern nation. She was the daughter of a real estate developer, Moshe Shapira. When she came of age, as part of the country’s tradition, she entered into military service by serving two years at the Israeli Air Force. Her time in the military would influence her future fashion label extensively. She then attended the world-renowned Shenkar College of Engineering and Design located in the country’s capital of Tel Aviv. It was there where she first learned about fashion design and the various tricks of the trade.

In 1980, Lotan transferred to New York City to start her fashion career. She worked for a number of high-profile and internationally-established American fashion labels such as NauticaLiz Claiborne, and Ralph Lauren. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, she led the design teams of all these brands, enjoying a lucrative and successful fashion career. However, in 2003, she took matters into her own hands and started her namesake label. While her names hasn’t been as loud and known as other New York label, she gradually saw success over time. Her designs became heavily featured in the likes of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle magazines while stars such as Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Lawrence started wearing her clothes on the street.

Denim daze

Nili Lotan Denim

One of the brand’s most successful and coveted lines is their selection of denim. Because Lotan has mastered working with strong and sturdy fabrics, she has achieved an expertise in experimenting and working with the classic material. Her label offers denim in a variety of shapes and silhouettes, proving how truly versatile the fabric really is. They have countless types of jeans, such as cargo French military style, wide-legged, boyfriend jeans, straight and skinny cut, and bell-bottoms, among others. Those who’ve fallen in love with her feminine military style have also embraced her diverse approach to denim. The brand is often shared on social media mostly because of their different denim pieces.

Widening its reach online

Nili Lotan Launches Denim at Barneys New York

Having only opened in 2003, Nili Lotan is still quite small in terms of its retail reach. As of 2017, they’ve only opened 2 stores and both are in New York City: one in the TriBeCa area and one in the East Hamptons. Prominent luxury retailers such as Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue are also carrying the Nili Lotan brand in their New York stores. However, the label has a much stronger presence in the e-commerce world. One can buy a Nili Loran piece in such online retail websites like Net-A-Porter, Shopbop, FarFetch, and Moda Operandi. The label itself has also opened its own e-commerce site so it can directly deal with customers.

Nili Lotan and many fashion designers like her serve as inspirations for a multitude of people who want to make it big in fashion but are not from any of the industry’s major capitals. Her strong devotion to her origins has helped her dominate the grand American fashion market and will help catapult her brand into more international fashion sectors.

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