Philly Designer to Watch: Lobo Mau’s Latest Collection is Amazing

Rethink the sweatshirt with Nicole Haddad's collection of cozy separates.

That’s me (on the left) with Nicole Haddad, just before I tried to walk out with her entire collection shoved in my purse. (Kidding, but only by a little bit.)

Tracking Nicole Haddad as she makes a name for herself as a fashion designer has been nothing short of inspiring. Her first collections, under the name Lobo Mau, abounded with wild colors and patterns; her current spring/summer collection is peppered with harem pants, graphic leggings and a few shiny gold metallics thrown in for good measure. Trendy, cute and super-stylish, yes. Sleek and classic—something you could wear to work—not quite (see: those gold biker shorts). Still, I liked the bulk of her collection (and so did everyone else in town—at last year’s Philly Mag Shops, Haddad sold out of nearly everything she brought!).

But in this past year, Haddad’s aesthetic has matured; her pieces have become less flash-in-the-pan and more sophisticated. I recently visited her showroom at Skai Blue in Midtown Village, where she gave me a sneak peek of her fall/winter 2014 collection (which will be hitting stores in August). In a nutshell: This girl’s got it.

“I wanted my pieces to be more sophisticated and comfortable,” Haddad tells me as we stand in her sun-drenched workroom. She’s nailed the comfort factor: Each garment in her fall/winter 2014 collection is made of a cozy sweatshirt material. But the details keep it all from teetering too far into loungewear territory: architectural, stand-up collars on a sweatshirt; wife-cuffed bracelet sleeves on a swing coat; an exaggerated shawl collar on a cardigan.

Textile designer Ryan Parker created the “fractured plaid” and “revised herringbone” prints which are repeated throughout the collection, each nodding to tradition and subsequently breaking it. (To wit: From far away, that swing coat, with its classic lines and retro shape, almost looks like it could be a structured tweed. Get closer, though, and it’s a slashed herringbone print rendered in soft cotton. Cotton jersey just for loungewear? Psh.)

The palette is simple, too, a wash of blacks, whites and grays. Slipping into the cape-backed cardigan was like shrugging on my Norma Kamali draped sweatshirt. It’s comfortable, yes, but you could also wear it out without feeling like the girl who couldn’t be bothered to change out of her yoga pants all day. (Gulp, guilty.) It’s well-priced, too: Everything is below $300. Lobo Mau is currently carried at Aoki, Arcadia, Style Camp, Vagabond and US*U.S. My advice: Scoop up the Pom jacket, Swing sweatshirt, Paperbag joggers and the Weekend parka as soon as they’re available this fall. You won’t regret it.

Lobo Mau photography by Ross Ericsson.