Haven’t you heard? Brown is the new black.
In case you didn’t notice by scrolling through this lookbook, Nili Lotan is “feeling brown.” The hue has been trending since late last year, taking the spotlight at the spring collections. But Lotan isn’t necessarily one to bend her knee to passing trends. She’s been at this for over four decades, two working independently. Over time, she’s collected an infinite amount of vintage pieces to reference, mostly from the ’70s, that she revisits at the beginning of each season. This time around, the item that caught her attention the most was a chocolate brown coat with golden buttons.
“I looked at it and realized I don’t actually have a brown coat in my closet, let alone with gold buttons,” said Lotan at a preview. Nili Lotan, the brand, is intrinsic to Nili Lotan, the woman. This is a designer who each season looks at what she needs and would like in her closet: it’s an exercise that informs the way she pieces together her collections, and, 21 years in, it hasn’t failed her yet.
There were brown buttery leathers and brown corduroys, brown slinky slips and brown silky blouses. Lotan cut deliciously tailored jackets and coats in brown tweeds, herringbones, and plaids. She made barn jackets in coated canvas and even suede (this lineup’s MVP), and paired all these items with her best-selling jeans.
There was a Britishness to the whole affair, but filtered through Lotan’s all-American lens: See the barn jackets, cropped to the waist, “she’s not going to the fields, she’s going to work,” said the designer. Think Meghan Markle if she spent some time at Balmoral and wore Ralph Lauren jeans and Polo shirting under plush Fair Isle knits and a Barbour jacket. “The brown sent me down this British countryside dream,” said Nolan. She’s not alone—based on previews and moodboards, you’ll be seeing lots of herringbones, houndstooths, and Prince of Wales checks this New York Fashion Week. What helped Nolan hit the mark, however, is that she brought her take on this recurring fantasy back Stateside.