photo: Sharon shooting her daughter Charlotte in LA
Sharon Brown, creator of Lotte.99
Lotte.99 is thoughtfully made classic loungewear using pure silk, linen & cotton. For sustainability we often upcycle end of the roll fabrics while creating an intimate small batch collection.
In the 60’s everyone wanted to be Jackie Kennedy and with the help of Butterick patterns and the local fabric shop we could! My Mom took in piece work, Christmas stocking and Santa suits for the local factory - clothes for large and lovely folk. She made wedding dresses, Beatles & yellow submarines. She made rabbits suits & gowns fit for beauty queens.
Dad worked as a roofer, the kettle man. It was a dirty job and meant disposable clothing. Hot black tar would splash and burn what he wore. Soiled clothes had to be tossed. So, once a month we jumped in our sun bleached station wagon to “The Berlin Auction." Tractor trailers would roll up with the motherload of used clothing. We scaled heaping mounds of clothes foraging like billy goats for sweatshirts, Dickies, coveralls n Carhart. Today's gold at $.25 prices….
When the mall was built we shopped in vain in the windowless mecca, a hotbed of chemicals in a vapor locked sealed tomb. Formaldehyde to stiffen fabrics & chemicals used in dyeing would cause my allergies to rage. Maybe I was allergic to the bland watered down mid-range fast fashion? So one day, instead, of following the masses we followed painted blue footprints on the sidewalk down a back alley. “Come Together” was the alternative clothing shop. Through beaded curtains, under black lights a den of denim waited for us. Stacks of jeans, velvet Peanuts and Levi cords piled high on rough hewn sawhorses and plywood tables. This was the dawning of the age of Aquarius…Treks to factory outlets were another favorite - scoring $5 Pierre Cardin silk dress’s & Herve Leger wool suits.Influenced by Diane Keaton, Lauren Hutton, Katherine Hepburn and Ralph Lauren - the masters of feminine masculine, I tried to emulate them by mixing flannel dressing gowns and hiking boots, military belts, boy’s polos and men’s oxford shirts, trousers and neckties. What did these fabrics all have in common? Most were cotton. 100% cotton. I could relax in my own skin. Hooked, fashion became my creative outlet. I always wanted to have my own collection, but at the time I truly believed the world didn’t need more stuff.
I went to Art school. I had a good run as a model/ actress. I settled in later as an art director, wardrobe stylist and costumer for 25 years I created environments and character studies for commercials, magazines and TV. A scavenger hunt transported me back to the “Berlin Auction” days.
It felt increasingly hard to find classics. As clothes became mass produced and chemicals commonplace, quality was lacking and It became harder to find clothes that were affordable and good quality!
A dear friend gifted me a pair of Brooks Brothers men’s white pajamas to replace my threadbare 25 year old pair from the same 200 year old company. The label read 100% cotton, yet 20 washes later I could not sleep in the new pair. The fabric would not relax. I consulted the store & council of fabrics & was informed you DO NOT have to disclose CHEMICAL additives!! 100% cotton treated with wrinkle resistant chemicals! This discovery was the catalyst that lead to Lotte.99’s conception. Named after my gift, my daughter, Char-lotte, who was born in 19-99. Since day one she’s been my partner in crime, my model, my muse and media director.
Our hope for the future is to bring back a connection to family, community and to nurture a connection to our clients. To know who we are, what we stand for and where our garments come from - to have the same connection I had as a child.
During this unsettling era my main source of calm is by reaffirming that life is in the details. I'm taking time to be, to do, catch up, connect, read. I write, listen. sleep and reflect. My hope is to come back better and give our planet a break, and please - let’s all consume responsibly.
Be well, stay safe and see you on the other side….
And cue the music.