Recently my company Creative Content Loft, had the opportunity to photograph a most unusual, spectacularly crafted suit collection for girls by a new company, LilaPants. A Mother/Father/Two Daughters venture – I asked Mom co-founder Jennifer Knoepfle how it all came about. Here, she shares a wonderful story of how desire + passion came to fashion fruition.
What was the genesis of LilaPants?
I’d have to go back to years ago, when I asked our daughter Lila what she’d like to wear for the 1st Grade Father/Daughter Dance. She told me she already had dresses, so she was looking for something different. Not exactly sure where she was going with this idea, I asked her to draw me her ideal outfit. While I admired the creativity in her ultimate pants suit design, she did wear a dress to the dance, though I kept the picture because I loved the vibrant personality it showcased.
Did you see any other indications that this wasn’t just a passing fad for your daughter?
One of the last few dresses Lila had worn, under protest, was for her Kindergarten graduation. After that, we made a promise to honor her wish to wear pants, as long as she was appropriately dressed if we had something fancy on the calendar. That promise was far harder to keep than I ever imagined! No matter where I searched, in online stores or in brick-and-mortar, there were no cute pant suits for girls. Special occasions, whether weddings, holidays, and other events, especially if her grandparents were there, made me sweat. She would not entertain leggings and a tunic. As she stated, “Mommy, a tunic is just a short dress. I want a suit.”
Weeks to months ahead of events, I spent my time looking for a boy’s suit in a decent color, or by trying to find some cute pants we could dress up. Meanwhile, Georgia’s closet was overrun with special occasion dresses that she wore once and promptly outgrew. The contradiction was not lost on me.
To my distinct delight, when she was 7, I did find a single floral suit. She wore it to her Father/Daughter dance and was an instant celebrity! Everyone wanted to know where she got The Suit. She was appropriately dressed for a special occasion, she looked great and most importantly, she felt like a million bucks. The look on her face when she looked in the mirror made all of my fruitless internet searches worth it. She wore that suit to every holiday and special occasion until she outgrew it. It was a smashing success, but…the next year, everyone wanted to see a new suit. Ugh. And the search began again…
So, how did the idea morph from an elementary sketch to a constant search for girls suits to ultimately a spectacular clothing line of suits for girls?
In May of 2020, while socially distancing from, well, everyone, we decided to go on a family fishing adventure. One night, as we were bobbing in the water, waiting for a bite, we found ourselves talking about everything and nothing. Always keeping things positive and hopeful, my husband Matt aka Dad, asked our daughters, Lila who was 10 at the time and Georgia at 8: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Without hesitation, Lila stated, “We should make suits for girls who don’t like dresses.” Georgia was immediately on board, and some creative family brainstorming lasted well into the evening.
What factors and considerations go in to designing a suit for girls?
When you have two girls who can throw a football as powerfully as many boys, who sail, and fish, and use power tools…a suit can’t be dainty. It has to be machine washable, and come out of the dryer looking perfect. It needs to have stretch. It needs real pockets and an adjustable waist. And it needs to make the wearer feel confident and comfortable. We have worked for years to create that suit we wanted to find and buy…and now we have it because the entire LilaPants line fulfills all those wishes — or “specifications” if we want to use the business terminology — and more.
Fast forward a few years, our pint-sized business partners have come up with some fantastic ideas and learned right beside us as we figure this fashion business thing out, with our new company: LilaPants.
No pun intended, but was this a seamless process to go from design to prototype to market?
The original prototype had an adjustable waistband, but it bunched up in the back. Fortunately, we started working with Jamie Koff and her team at Fabric to Finish. Together they offered a brilliant solution whereby the pants are designed with a hidden elastic waistband that is discreet and forgiving, while also quite flattering to the fit. Working with Jamie’s team at Fabric to Finish really leveled up our suits- their expertise helped translate our vision into the finely tailored suits we now sell today.
I’ve seen the line first hand. It is all you promise and more. Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
If the young ladies in your life are looking for something extra special and unique for their wardrobe, a look that more broadly fulfills how they want to express themselves, please take a moment to see our selection. I think you might find some really special options!
And let me also add: Lila chose to wear a dress to her Homecoming this past year. As her parents and business partners, Matt and I are proud to have raised two young women who feel comfortable expressing themselves: Both Lila and Georgia have a great sense of personal style and they carry themselves beautifully…whatever they’re wearing!
©SilverDisobedience Inc. 2023