A Little Class

These homegrown designers of luxury children’s clothing have made it big across the country. So why are they still under the radar in Milwaukee?

TheMINIclassy's harem pants. Photo by RuKo Photo.
TheMINIclassy’s harem pants. Photo by RuKo Photo.
Designers Michelle Lopez and Andrea Dotzauer both attended Mount Mary University and studied fashion. They didn’t know each other in their respective college stints, but they later came together with the idea of making clothing for their kids. The end result: TheMINIclassy label.

They settled on Harem pants with a waistband and cuffs made of a bamboo-cotton blend. The design is easy to pull up, roomy enough to house a diaper, and nonrestrictive – ideal conditions for toddlers in constant motion. Their first big order of harem pants came from the flash sale website Zulilly in November 2013. And the 300-piece order sold out on its first day.

Since then, children of celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Fergie and Tori Spelling have donned TheMINIclassy duds, pint-sized publicity that has helped them place their clothes in more than 30 boutiques around the world.

Things looked bleak after a June Kickstarter campaign failed to raise enough money to rent a larger office and manufacturing space. But in mid-July, the duo began negotiations with an investor so they could upgrade from their 300-square-foot Third Ward space to a 1,300-square-foot space in the same building.

In August, Lopez and Dotzauer rolled out an exclusive collection for luxury department store Barneys. For the collection, they worked with Milwaukee artist Dechazier Stokes-Johnson, who created a black abstract design (pictured at left) that is emblazoned on T-shirts.

‘A Little Class’ appears in the September 2015 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Claire Hanan worked at the magazine as an editor from 2012-2017. She edited the Culture section and wrote stories about all sorts of topics, including the arts, fashion, politics and more. In 2016, she was a finalist for best profile writing at the City and Regional Magazine Awards for her story "In A Flash." In 2014, she won the the Milwaukee Press gold award for best public service story for editing "Handle With Care," a service package about aging in Milwaukee. Before all this, she attended the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and New York University's Summer Publishing Institute.