Lola Ehrlich has a long history of fashion entrepreneurship in New York City. Working as a magazine editor in the 80’s, she met Mario Testino and other influential people in the industry, but that was only the beginning. In the late 80’s, she decided to open a tiny shop in the East Village, selling one of a kind hats. From there, she moved her shop to the Flatiron before having an atelier and workroom in the Garment District. But after the inevitable rent raise, and general demise of industry in Manhattan, Lola once more had to move, and found a loft on St. Nicholas Avenue where she’s been continuing to run Lola Hats for the past 8 years.
Since her shop opening in the late 80’s, Lola Hats has grown larger than life selling internationally to high-end stores such as Barneys and Bergdorff Goodman. Despite the company’s growth, her products are still handmade and overseen by Lola directly. Her loft in Bushwick is not only beautiful and airy with panoramic city views, but it’s where her hats are designed, made, shown and shipped by 15 employees and 3 interns. Lola told us that the company is like a family, and many of the interns come back for positions.
There are little touches that are unique to her hats, such as re-purpossed vintage fabric used for the sweatbands, and designs shaved into the felt from an actual barber. They also use interesting materials, like one woven hat that was made from strips of the New York Times. The hats retail between $220 and $375 because of the cost of manufacturing locally, and adding special touches.
While she showed me press of Rhianna, Cameron Diaz and Jessica Alba wearing her hats, I asked if there was anyone particularly special that she was happy to see in one of her creations. “She told me “Kara Walker. She’s so powerful. I thought that’s cool.”
Everything is made in-house, right on St. Nicholas in Bushwick.
Lola’s Hats makes a hat for any style. From your staple straw hat to block out sun, to inventive pieces such a hat made from strips of the New York Times.
After the felt for the hat is molded, they trim off the extra fabric.
Lola has many of her hat molds from the 90’s. Because furriers were closing due to animal rights activism, they were throwing out their hat molds. Lola would pick them up and has been using many of these shapes ever since.