Meet our female founder of the month Charlotte Hicks. Charlotte Hicks is the Founder and Creative Director of the Australian fashion label ESSE with over 10 years experience designing for leading global fashion brands.
Charlotte Hicks joins Rntr. in our new collaborator series, where you can shop coveted pieces from her wardrobe. Featuring exclusive rental pieces from her personal wardrobe, you'll find a mix of ESSE samples and exclusive designs. You can now rent the collaboration here.
We sat down with Charlotte to discuss all things ESSE, slow releases, capsule wardrobes and more.
What first sparked the beginnings of ESSE?
After over a decade of being in the industry, I was really struggling with the abundance of excess, the wastefulness, the speed and the overall loss of value a customer places on each of their purchases. I wanted to start something that took a different approach.
I started Esse with the intention to attempt to encourage us all to question consumption. To question just how much you need and really help my women understand what goes into the clothes they purchase, from conception to their wardrobe. I wanted my woman to really take the time to really consider each piece they buy, learn more about the things they buy, it is a buzz word now but it was really about just consuming with your eyes more open ‘consciously', more aware and informed. I knew I wasn’t going the solution to a problem, but I wanted my woman to at least start asking these questions, because the brand was asking these questions too.
How did you establish your brand based on slow releases?
The Editions were sort of an enabler for me to be able to make better decisions in general. The brand itself was build on the idea of evolving your wardrobe, slowly curating your pieces. So slow release ‘editions’ seemed like the right tone for each release. On a personal level it was a bit of a revolt to the fashion system, it wasn’t about collections that became old as quick as they were new. It wasn’t about seasonally focusing on any one space and time. It is just an Edition that is curated sort of for any woman any where, any time, hopefully for longevity. It was more about how we dress, and how we shop, changing our consumer behaviours. Investing in pieces for longevity.
Do you think this approach to fashion is the way of the future?
Thankfully because of the pandemic most of us are really assessing just how much we need. Rethinking how much they consume and really taking the time to consider each purchase. I think there are a lot of approaches that are the way forward, this is definitely a large part of it. Just buying less, buying right. Its becoming almost cliche now so I don’t like saying this but really it is about investing in quality pieces that have a level of integrity in how they came to be - the fabric, the supply chain, how it was made, where it was made etc etc.
How much ethical and sustainable responsibility falls on the designer versus the consumer?
Definitely both. There needs to be the demand coming from the customer or else we couldn't exist but more importantly I do believe that as a designer it is our responsibility. We need to create the demand, we need to inform and educate and make sure customers really understand. Its overwhelming and a really big complex issue. As a consumer it is hard to navigate so I do believe as a brand it is important that we help our customers decipher the complex topic.
How do you approach designing something timeless?
I often think, will I still want this hanging in my wardrobe in ten years time? If I had children could I pass it down to them and they still wear it and find value in it.
Can you tell us what would be in your capsule wardrobe?
A good tailored trouser, a jean, an oversized blazer and coat. Black shirt, coloured shirt. Layering body piece or tank for layering and a sleek black dress. Oh and a cashmere sweater.
Do you mix high fashion with low fashion ever or do you avoid fast fashion all together?
I really avoid it. I am just not a big consumer. I think the only thing I tend to spend my money on is really special investment pieces or vintage that complement my ESSE wardrobe.
Do you follow fashion trends?
I think there is a zeitgeist and an energy but trends specifically no not really. Sometimes it happens that trends and your style do align.
Describe ESSE in three words.
Minimal, artful, considered.
What would be your biggest fashion splurge?
Investing in starting a fashion brand. LOL
Do you rent clothing ever?
I do! But to be honest, I am not a big consumer myself. I never have been. I am in the fortunate position to have an office full of pieces I can ‘borrow’
Can you walk us through why you wanted to partner with Rntr?
I love the concept on Rntr and rental. Mostly importantly though they have a vision that is rare in the space and I am excited to see the future.
What about rental is exciting for you in your perspective on the future of fashion?
I think rental is really about cultivating active, engaged customers that love the experience of renting. Then brands actually designing product for that channel and those customers.
Describe the future of fashion in three words.
Optimistic, Regenerative, innovative
THIS / THAT hot fire round: answers bolded
Capsule wardrobes or mix of high and low fashion
Renting or Fast fashion
New or vintage
Neutral or colourful
Trend piece or classic
Bright or bold
Blazer or leather jacket
Tailored or loose fitted