Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Nili Lotan Is In Very Good Company With J.Crew,

The unbridled keenness of J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler for the purveyors of goods he admires is well-documented. New York designer Nili Lotan (above) witnessed it firsthand when Drexler came down to her airy but unassuming Tribeca store-cum-studio a few months ago at the suggestion of mutual friends. “I loved his get-up-and-go and spontaneity,” says Lotan. “He came in and was like, ‘Wow! Wow!’ for an hour.”

“Wow” led to a deal, and Lotan is now the latest designer to stock her wares—like slouchy, stripey linen sweaters ($218) and maxi shirtdresses ($235, left)—on and a few of its brick-and-mortar stores, as the newest addition to the retailer’s In Good Company program. The sweaters and dresses are said to be on point for selling out, and the four other pieces in this first delivery—two colors of cropped jeans with a bias-cut fly ($260), a washed-cotton military jacket ($555), and a creamy-hued loose-weave knit ($218)—are also moving quite quickly. The team at J.Crew has already reordered for summer and picked their merch for Fall. Though Lotan’s barely been on the site and in stores for two weeks, it’s all preparatory to make Drexler’s very direct question to Lotan at the time—”How come nobody knows about you?”—a moot point. To ensure that mootness, however, Drexler’s team also put together a feature on the Israeli-born designer, who got her education in solid American sportswear at Nautica and Ralph Lauren before starting to peddle her coolly tailored take on utilitarian chic in 2003.
For her part, Lotan is ready for a potential upgrade from cult to household-name status by relaunching a much sturdier Web site and e-commerce platform to go live at the end of the month. “It’s very exciting,” she says of her new partnership. “I wasn’t under the radar for the reason that I was shy or because I thought I didn’t deserve it, I just wanted it to take its time to get there when it needed to get there.”

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