Harper's Bazaar Australia|June/July 2020

Esse Studios founder Charlotte Hicks’s slow-fashion model may just blaze a trail for the industry’s new normal. She talks less is more with Katrina Israel
Katrina Israel

“FASHION SHOULD ALWAYS BE A SIGN OF THE TIMES, and there’s been a gentle shift for a few years and then, all of a sudden, we are forced into this …” begins Esse Studios designer Charlotte Hicks across a patchy Skype connection from her studio in Paddington, Sydney. “I think what will come out of this [coronavirus crisis] is a far leaner perspective.”

For Hicks, that leaner perspective is actually a welcome fit. After working in the design rooms of many of Australia’s most successful fashion brands — Zimmermann and sass & bide included — in 2017 she launched Esse Studios (pronounced ‘essay’, named after the notion of essentials). The label produces two capsule collections, or Editions, a year, each designed to go with the last. “It plays into this whole ethos of less is more and investing in the pieces you need and wear,” Hicks explains. “This idea of a wardrobe capsule that is that five per cent of your wardrobe you actually wear on high rotation. It’s the versatility of having everything really thought-out for you with pieces that work together.” Hicks even styles back her latest lookbooks with earlier Editions to reinvigorate pieces. “I don’t like this idea of built-in obsolescence,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with the dress you bought six months ago.”


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June/July 2020