Sam Weir, founder of New York-based styling service LOTTE, explains why playing with your closet is the most sustainable option.
Sam Weir won’t tell you where her tank top is from. There’s no point anyway, she explains to her TikTok viewers, because there’s probably a similar one already in your closet.
Some might call it gatekeeping, but for Sam, it’s simply one of many minute ways she attempts to curtail consumption. Her TikTok account (which currently displays over 200 videos containing styling tips, often involving one piece of clothing worn multiple ways) is an extension of her styling service, Lotte. Named after her stylish maternal grandmother, Lotte is “a one-on-one online styling service, revealing the power of your style and wardrobe,” their website reads. “I want you to look at what you already own,” the stylist expounds. “We’ve already done all the buying. Now we have to do all the wearing.”
The seeds for Lotte were planted during Sam’s stint as a fashion editor for a New York-based indie publication, where one of her first editorials featured conscious lingerie labels. “Once I started that research,” she recalls, “at least for me, I kept digging and kept digging. And that’s when I was like, something has to change. I need to leave my job and find a new one that does something that I feel helps rather than hurts [the environment].”
What finally pushed Sam to concretize this passion was a jarring statistic: 50 percent of the average wardrobe goes unworn.
“I was like, hold on a second, I can do so much with 50 percent of my wardrobe,” she says. “Essentially, you can do recycling and material innovation, but just wearing your clothes more has a higher impact out of pretty much any of those things. The longer that you wear your clothes, the longer that they last, the better it is for the planet. And that’s essentially styling.”
On Lotte’s website, you can book an hour-long Zoom or FaceTime session. Then, the client receives a questionnaire that asks for things like your favorite movie or your dream travel location. They’re not necessarily fashion-focused questions, but that’s the point; to understand the wearer is to understand what and why they wear.
“The first 15 minutes is us getting to know each other. And then we walk through your wardrobe. We’ll talk about the pieces that you’re wearing every week, the pieces that you don’t wear at all but you love. We’ll talk about why. And then at the end of that session, we’ll style four looks head-to-toe.”
Clients are encouraged to select pieces they haven’t worn in months, which Sam styles into practical looks that she says “you’ll wear tomorrow or next week.” Post-session, clients receive a digital portfolio containing session notes, styling frameworks, and even fabric and color recommendations.
In With the Old
The service resonates with individuals from across continents; Lotte’s patrons dial in from U.S., Australia, and as far as the Philippines. Many of Sam’s clientele return monthly or seasonally, and often email her to happily share that they haven’t shopped since their session.
Sam celebrates the gratification of lessened consumption because she’s experienced it herself. On January 17, 2023, the Lotte founder revealed through the brand’s Instagram that she hadn’t bought a single clothing or accessory item in the previous year. “Personally, it was just holding myself to the same standard that I would like to hold others to,” she says. She formed a habit of spending an hour each Sunday to play with her wardrobe and fall in love with its contents again. “I think a lot of us don’t realize there’s so many ways to interact with our clothing outside of consumption,” she says.
In Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, a book pivotal to Sam’s sustainable fashion advocacy, scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer writes: “In order to live, I must consume. That’s the way the world works, the exchange of a life for a life, the endless cycling between my body and the body of the world.”
Later in the essay, the author ponders, “Whether we are digging wild leeks or going to the mall, how do we consume in a way that does justice to the lives that we take?”
For Sam, it’s consuming slowly and mindfully, or not at all. It’s resisting trends and finding creative ways to spin what we already own. And all that starts by noticing what’s right in front of us.
“Look around you,” Sam says, “look at your family, look at your culture, go through books. Go to museums, watch movies. All of that stuff will start influencing your style. Whatever you’re naturally intrigued with, get inspired there.”
Makeup : Jessica Garvin. Hair: Karla Serrano. Talent: Maddux Callaway of Elite Models. Creative Director: Sam Weir. Casting: Cano Castings.