Charlotte Hicks is the founder of ESSE and has over 10 years’ experience designing for leading global fashion brands, such as Zimmermann and sass & bide. ESSE was born out of frustration for the sheer excess and waste that is evident in the fashion industry. Charlotte wants to encourage and nurture a slower more sustainable message, return to the ESSEnce of dressing, the craft and quality. She wants people to take the time to understand what goes into each piece and encourage you to invest in timeless pieces that have been considered for you.

Fashion Equipped’s Elizabeth Formosa sat down with Charlotte to ask about her background in fashion, choosing a slow fashion business model, and, winning the MFF National Designer Award.

Sustainability & Slow Fashion

Charlotte is a big believer in slowing down the process and manufactures ESSE denim and cotton shirting here in Australia. Not only that, but her fabric is made in Melbourne, which is an even bigger win.

“I’m very passionate about being close to my product and close to my supply chain. It’s my favourite part”

When it comes to connecting with manufacturers, Charlotte says It’s all about finding partners around the world or locally whose values align with yours. It took Charlotte 12-18 months to set up her supply chain and operations of the business – a marathon, not a sprint! Charlotte also wants to be as open as authentic as she can be about the journey because setting up a brand is definitely not a walk in the park!

Thankfully through lockdown, Charlotte was able to keep on going with her business – also due to her smaller volumes at the time. Leading up to the pandemic, Charlotte was fortunate enough to have some fantastic opportunities – a trunk show in Paris, a strong wholesale season, as well as the boost of winning the MFF National Designer Awards in 2020.

MFF National Designer Award

The National Designer Award showcases and celebrates Australia’s fashion’s rising stars and provides the winner with a business development prize pack, mentorship, networking and industry exposure to help shape the next phase of their career. ESSE took out the prize in 2020 and due to that, ESSE is now stocked in David Jones (not to mention other incredible retailers around the world!).

“For me to get those awards, it was a really nice acknowledgement of everything to date…it’s definitely given me some incredible exposure, the brand some incredible exposure. Amazing relationships have come out of it as well.”

To listen to the full chat with Charlotte Hicks, head to Fashion.Business.Mindset. The podcast is available now on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Deezer and Google Play!