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Esse Essentials | Sustainability with Charlotte Hicks


At The New Trend, we celebrate brands who strive to reduce their environmental footprint. Esse Studios is for the woman who takes a considered approach to her style. We sit down with founder and designer Charlotte Hicks to talk all things sustainability.

What sustainability strides are you focusing on as a brand?
As a brand we are constantly evolving our approach and building the business.  A sustainable and ethical practice is at the core of not only our brand message, but also the business itself.  Having said that, it's a subject matter that you need to constantly be evolving with. For example, you unpack more within the supply chain or your business grows so you are able to invest in better choices like meeting certain fabric minimums for a more sustainable fabric.

Our sustainable ethos has been quite clear from the start in terms of the fabric choices we make, the way we deliver products and our overall approach to design. To us this is just the foundation, and only the start. There is so much we have on our roadmap to achieve, and we are just slowly working towards those goals. We have some exciting plans in the future around upcycling waste and traceability which we are looking forward to sharing soon. Waste is a huge issue for fashion brands and focusing on being more responsible with our waste and excess is something we are passionate about.

How do you approach sustainability in a such a fast-paced fashion industry?
Sustainability is a weighty topic. You never want to appear tokenistic about it. It’s complicated and multi-faceted, every sustainable brand has a definition unique to them. Every brand has its own opportunities and limitations around the subject. 
I have always said that sustainability is an outlook. It is about questioning and challenging how you do things on all fronts. There is no denying we are creating something out of nothing, so you just need to do that in the most considered way possible. The industry is tough and being a sustainable emerging brand even harder. But we are proud of what we do, and constantly aim to challenge the status quo. The great thing is that the subject has come leaps and bounds in the past 18 months. And most importantly the consumers are becoming more and more educated, which has always been a passion of mine. There are so many people that need to be ‘on the bus' with you. From the customers, right down to the farms where you grow your cotton. There are a lot of people involved so the trick is to partner with as many like-minded people as you can along the way. 

Tell us about Editions, what is the reason behind them?
Reframing the fashion calendar was a large part of the sustainability strategy for us. It was important to us to avoid four huge seasons a year just for the sake of it and avoiding a markdown and sale calendar that only perpetuates the consumer cycle for more.  Whilst this doesn’t typically fit into a typical or traditional business model of consumption and profit, we aim to design garments with a greater purpose and intention. We want each Edition to evolve from the last, so your old ESSE items perfectly pair with the new. Designing once and designing well is another core value for us. If you design with longevity and versatility in mind, every investment just has that little bit more milage. For example, we have pieces that are dresses that with a button become a top. Our ‘Collectable' Trench Coat that you buy in multiple colours, but the whole thing comes apart so you can mix and match.  Small details like that really add to the life span of each piece. At the end of the day, it’s about making the best choices possible and having key objectives in sight to work towards.