For designer and brand founder Charlotte Hicks, ESSE Studios (pronounced ‘es-ay’) was founded in 2019 as a revolt to the industry’s obsession of fast, seasonal collections and the growing excess we had come to accumulate. Instead, Hicks slowly releases refined and sustainable capsule wardrobes titled “Editions” filled with timeless staples. The notion encourages slow and considered purchases that the wearer will keep forever. The growth of ESSE has been quick and in June this year Hicks made her debut at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. The brand can be found online and hanging in select stores but it feels like the perfect progression that, for the first time, the brand will receive spotlight in a revolutionary pop-up store designed at reimagining the fashion industry.
In November 2021, Afterpay launched the new retail concept dubbed the ‘Edit Collection‘ in collaboration with Vicinity Centres and the Australian Fashion Council. Several up-and-coming designers have already held residence in the temporary new-age store with ESSE Studios serving as the finale. The pop-up is housed at Chatswood Chase in Sydney with the hope that it will drum interest back into brick-and-mortar stores, while encouraging mindful purchases.
“I am designer, I need to feel the fabric. See the nuances in the finish and the detail,” Hicks tells GRAZIA. “I will always opt to shop in store. I also love see the ‘story’ in context. Chances are I will think about it and shop online, because I do love receiving something at my door I have been pining over!”
Hicks will showcase Edition Seven within the tech-driven store front. The opening has been 18 months in the works after it was delayed due to nationwide lockdowns in 2021. Like Hicks’ previous editions the pieces are inspired by the “strong modern female energy” while she blends form and function for perfect wearable pieces. “I have always had an affinity for the gentleman’s wardrobe through history, so there is a homage to that masculine energy. However this Edition in particular does have a softness, a subtle note of more femininity than others,” she says.
For visitors of the upcoming store, the retail experience is unmatched. In store technologies include shoppable change room mirrors, gesture controlled screens, a digital assistant to shoot and share selfies. The highlight of a physical store for Hicks however is seeing her elegant pieces actually hanging in the dedicated space. “It’s always so special to see your pieces beautifully finished, ‘merched’ and brought to life how you envisaged them. To see them in context just brings it all to life, and really re-inspires you for the next one.”
She continues, “I hope that they can spend some time exploring the pieces in the context of the whole edition. How each piece works with the next.”
Edit Collection x ESSE Studios is open from July 26 to September 18. As for a more permanent store location, the designer teases, “Watch this space. I think there is a lot of opportunity for some really innovative experiential retail!”
VISIT THE STORE:
CHATSWOOD CHASE SYDNEY
LEVEL 1, 345 VICTORIA AVE, CHATSWOOD NSW 2067