Quickly, the consumer’s priorities in fashion are changing. Comfort, functionality, and the ability to mix and match a piece to get the best bang for your buck are fueling the demand for loungewear. Where the category of cozy apparel was once reserved for inside the home, we’re now incorporating the look into our everyday essentials.

As streetwear continues to merge with luxury fashion, you’re hard pressed to find a brand that hasn’t caught on and introduced their own collections that cater to the consumers’ need for comfort infused with style. The brands rising to the forefront of the movement come at lounge and athleisure from an innovative perspective, creating products that stand out above the rest. Philadelphia-based brand, Lovello Elizabeth, is a leader of the pack.

Alnika Lovello launched the brand in 2014, and it has since garnered over 68,000 followers on Instagram as customers flock to the brand’s signature ZENTAI jumpsuit. The Lovello Elizabeth look is reminiscent of a 90’s or early 2000’s aesthetic, begging for a pair of vintage Chanel shades and a multicolored Louis Vuitton pochette to finish off the look. But what stands out is Lovello’s attention to quality and her ability to combine modernity (the brand embodies an overall minimalistic feel, characterized by solid color ways and clean lines) and hints of streetwear.

Coming from an African-American and Italian background, Lovello takes a unique approach to her brand that effortlessly fuses masculine and feminine, marries urban with high end, and introduces two cultures to one line to “forge a new path towards diversity in fashion.”

Self-taught, Lovello grew her brand from what was a slow start, to now, one with loyal customers anticipating its next drop. “The jumpsuit was ahead of its time. It took almost three years for it to sell, now it’s non-stop orders,” she told PHILADELPHIA. She recently released a mix and match capsule of fresh, pastel colored short sets with the option of a cozy hoodie or a low neckline, ribbed crop-tank. And just as it seems the brand was set on raising the bar for loungewear-meets-everyday, Lovello drops a hint on her website that Lovello Elizabeth could soon be taking a turn into contemporary fashion.

ESSENCE got to speak with Lovello about how she’s created a brand with quality first and a mission to not become boxed in.

Essence: What was the process of starting your brand like?

Lovello: I started out in January 2014 with 24 screen printed t-shirts. Everything was all just for fun. I had no experience in fashion— just Google as my best friend. A few months later, I found a manufacturer and started making handcrafted items that were sold out of my trunk. Things were slow at first, but after some killer items, business really started picking up. Fast forward about 5 more years, we have a studio, a creative space, and a full warehouse for inventory.

Quality seems to be a prominent characteristic of Lovello Elizabeth. How important is the clothing’s material to you?

Quality has been the top priority since day one. It’s very important to me to make sure that fabric is the right fit for the design, that sizing is perfect in terms of range and fit, and that details are well put together. Sometimes collections take longer to release because I’m really focused on making sure we deliver on the quality.

Would you describe Lovello Elizabeth as streetwear?

I have a hard time labeling the brand, and I say that because of what’s to come from us. Right now, we may sell comfortable loungewear or athleisure, but in the future I’d like for the brand to be seen more as an overall lifestyle brand, giving options to the type of style the consumer is looking to achieve. I’d like for us to cover all the needs of our consumer. I love streetwear, but I don’t want to box Lovello Elizabeth in.

What makes a good sweatsuit?

The first thing I ask myself is “Is it comfortable? Does it fit well?” I also make sure it’s something I can get more than one wear from and style in different ways. Sustainability, longevity and functionality are always in the back of our minds when designing our pieces.

Was Lovello Elizabeth at all impacted by COVID-19?

We’ve mostly been impacted internally, as our team is working from home. We really enjoy coming in and spending time together everyday, but our main focus has been making sure everyone is able to stay safe. We’ve had to work on new strategies for marketing, like most businesses, and we’re using this time to work on creating more timeless collections and all-around functionality.

What’s next for your brand?

We’re creating a new brand experience on the website for customers shopping online. We’re also working on expansion, pop-up shops, exclusive collections and collaborating with some dope people and brands. We’re excited for what’s to come and think everyone will really enjoy what’s next.

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