I gotta say, one of my favorite things in life is original, one-of-kind fashions for a price point that doesn’t make your mind explode. When I first came across Philly designer, Nicole Haddad and her clothing line, Lobo Mau in a Philly Mag article, I literally had to stop myself from drooling all over my keyboard whilst viewing her FW14 collection. I wanted/still want everything. And I was praying to the Gods of fashion that it wouldn’t be $500 for a t-shirt. Lucky for me, the fashion Gods heard my prayer. No only is Lobo Mau a brand that every stylish lady should have in her closet, but is one that won’t break your bank and have you justifying not paying your bills. We’ve all had that “I don’t REALLY need cable this month,” moment, right? Yeah … not necessary here.
Nicole is definitely a creative soul that everyone needs to chat with. Her dedication and eye for style is something to be admired … And it is just an extra added bonus that she is from my favorite city in the entire world … Philadelphia.
Enjoy getting to know Lobo Mau and Nicole as much as I did!
1. Where are you from originally?
My father is from Brazil and my mother is Italian-American. I’ve spent most of my life living and traveling between Brazil and Philadelphia.
2. Where did you study design (if you did)?
I have a Master’s degree in Fashion Design from Drexel University. Prior to that I earned my BA in Art History and Italian from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.
3. What inspired you to become a designer? What inspires you in general?
In Brazil it is very common to have your clothing made for you by local seamstresses or designers. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been taking my ideas to seamstresses and having my clothing made for me. Eventually I just thought to myself “Why don’t I just learn to do this mysef?” Also, my great-grandmother and grandmother on my mom’s Italian side were bridal and evening wear designers in Philadelphia. They were very successful and designed dresses for celebrities such as Grace Kelly. So I grew up with that influence in my life.
4. Have you always designed or did you go down a different career path at first?
I have always designed, but for a while I was interested in Academia. I thought for a few years that I would become a scholar and art historian writing books, publishing journal articles, and lecturing to college students … but then I realized I needed to lead an artistically creative life, so I went back to school for design.
5. What year did you design your first collection?
I graduated design school in 2008 and then started my line. My first collection consisted of digitally-printed fabrics that I created in Photoshop.
6. Where is your studio located?
My studio is currently in the basement of the designer co-op US U.S. I have been a part of this co-op shop for 3 years now, and it has been a really supportive environment for me to grow my business.
7. Who do you look up to designer-wise?
I look up to Alexander Wang for building such a big business based in salable clothing. I look up to Mary Katrantzou and Manish Arora for their crazy amazing prints and use of color. I love designers like Jil Sander for her beautiful minimalism. I’m obsessed with Dries Van Noten’s FW2014 Collection.
8. How do you view the Philly fashion scene, and what made you design here instead of in LA or NYC?
The Philly fashion scene is growing a lot, but it still has a long way to go. I am currently working with a group of dedicated individuals who want to change the manufacturing situation in Philly. There aren’t many places for a designer here to manufacture, which is a shame because it was once the #1 place in the US for garment manufacturing. I love this city though, and I have built a life here. My family is here, my husband has a great job here, and I’d like to continue living and working here.
9. Describe the girl that would wear your most recent collection.
The girl who would wear the FW2014 collection is fashion-forward, but also classic.
10. Where can people buy your pieces and when will your most recent collection be available?
I sell to about 12 stores all over the country. In Philadelphia, the latest collection will be sold at US U.S. Designer Co-op in Old City and Style Camp in Chestnut Hill.
11. What are your price points?
Anywhere from $50-$100
12. Are your garments American made? What fabrics do you work with?
Everything is made in Philadelphia right now, although my fabrics come from LA.
13. How did you come up with the name “Lobo Mau“?
Lobo Mau means ‘big, bad wolf” in Portuguese. As a child I loved the story of Little Red Riding Hood and I thought it translated well into an idea for a clothing line. I’ve always liked bold fashion, and the name fit well.
14. What’s next for you and your brand?
I’m going to keep growing my business and work on getting my web store really up and running. I’m going to be dressing some celebrities this summer, and working on a capsule collection with a singer from Brooklyn, Denitia, from Denitia and Sene. They have been named Nylon Magazine’s favorite artist this month.
15. What is your advice for aspiring designers?
Be prepared to work hard and to keep persevering. You are going to knock on hundreds of doors and sow hundreds of seeds, and if you keep at it long enough, you will make it. Also, having a niche product is helpful.