You’re in love the moment you touch a piece in the Lilla P apparel collection.
Doesn’t matter whether it’s a perfect, short-sleeved white tee, a boyfriend style shirt, or a swingy A-line dress. It all feels incredibly soft, and you can’t wait to try it on. Once you do, you’re more in love than ever, because every silhouette is shaped to flatter every body, whether you’re 35 or 65!
Pauline shows her v-neck tee, in a luscious blue. It has just enough sleeve coverage, back seam detailing, and a rounded hemline. The fabric is Pima cotton and Modal slub.
“My 24-year-old niece and my 82-year-old mother both love the clothes,” said Pauline Sokol Nakios, who launched the brand in 1998, with a single crew neck tee in one size and five colors. Almost two decades later, the Lilla P label defines a “comfortable, casual, wearable, and cross-generational” line of irresistible signature tees, as well as sweaters, shirts and skirts, pants and dresses.
FabOverFifty showed a few of Lilla P’s tops five years ago, and ever since, the company has been developing a great many fans from our community, Pauline told me.
But first, don’t miss the interview I did with talented, delightful, and energetic Pauline.
Left: Pauline shows FOF Nancy her latest collection during a trunk show at Kiwi, a wonderful Brooklyn boutique
Right: Nancy in Lilla P’s flattering pinstripe tunic with ¾ sleeves, in woven linen (She bought it!)
Geri adores the long-sleeve hoodie in oh-so-soft Pima cotton
Where are you from, and how did you begin in the fashion business?
“I’m from Charleston, SC, where my family owned a retail furniture store for generations. After studying commercial interior design at the University of Georgia, I moved to Atlanta to look for a design job, but no one was hiring, so I took a job at a high-end women’s boutique. I then worked at an ad specialty company.
“In the meantime, I set out to design the perfect tee. Little tees were all the rage, and I started with a one-size-fits-all, short-sleeved crew neck tee in five colors. I didn’t have a formal business plan when I started, but when the shipment arrived I went from store to store selling my tees.”
For whom is Lilla P named?
“Lilla was my grandmother and P is for Pauline.”
“Soon after, I met my future [and brilliant] husband, Thomas, who was in real estate finance. He left real estate to start working on the back end of the company when our first son, now 11, was six months old. After we moved to New York, in 2001, Thomas asked to look at my business plan, and I still remember the panic on his face when he ran the numbers on my company.
“Little by little, I met people in the industry, and they introduced me to my first sales reps in Atlanta and California. By 2004, we were really up and running. The company has always been into basic tees, but customers started wanting more, so we added items including jersey dresses and sweaters.”
From where are your wonderful soft fabrics?
“All of our tee shirts, and other tee shirt-y pieces, are made from beautiful Peruvian cottons. Our wonderful sweaters are made in China, and we’re starting to do a little more product in India, which has added a whole new textural element to the line.”
Where is your collection sold?
“About 90 percent of the business is through specialty stores, and we have an amazing partnership with the catalog, Garnet Hill. Our own Lilla P online shop also is seeing tremendous growth.”
Please tell us about your customer.
“We can sell to contemporary and missy customers. We really truly can sell to anyone. Our true base is women 35 to 65 years old. Our customers want timeless and ageless clothes, including great basics like our perfect, short-sleeved white tee. They like our casual lifestyle approach. We nod to the trends without being overly trendy. Women can wash and wear our pieces season after season. The collection reflects my practicality, both as a shopper and business owner.”
Left: The easy stretch jersey dress with a scoop neck and back slit is a Pauline favorite. Great over leggings or all by itself
Center: Floral is a strong trend this season, and the vintage floral print looks wonderful on a crisp cotton, button-down shirt. The boyfriend fit is cool and comfortable.
Right: Pauline models the cotton blend slub open duster
What’s your best piece of fashion advice for women whose bodies are changing, usually starting in their 50s?
“Rather than looking what everyone is wearing, you need to wear clothes that flatter your body.”
Do you still design the collections?
“The company has grown over the years. We have built out a great design team, and I oversee all creative direction.”
Enter to win a $500 Lilla P Gift Card by completing the form below. Then, head on over to the Lilla P online shop and tell us, in the comment section, which piece you’d love to own. We bet you’ll find more than just one!
And think about buying your favorite mom a Lilla P creation. Even if that mom is YOU!
Check out a selection of our favorite pieces, all in one spot.
1 FOF will win. (See official rules, here.) Contest closes May 30, 2017 at midnight E.S.T. Contest limited to residents of the continental U.S.