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Ask The Expert with Abi Brookes

Like many friends of ESSEN, Attirecare was born from the realisation that fashion had a staggering waste problem. Founded by now finacés Abi and Seb, the two found inspiration in the idea of necessity and agreed that there was a disconnect between the way we shopped and the way we showed our purchases care. Sharing a ‘buy less, buy better’ mentality, they sought to create a brand that harnessed the power of preventative care and reconnected people to the pieces in their closets. Seven years later, Attirecare is a flourishing care brand doing just that. Bringing together sustainably sourced and organic ingredients, the Manchester-based brand offers thoughtfully crafted (and aesthetically pleasing) lifestyle care products for the modern household.

For the first in our Ask The Expert series, we caught up with Abi to learn more about the brand’s journey and her top care tips.

Ask The Expert with Abbi and Seb | Attirecare
What led you to create attirecare?
My business partner (and fiancé!) Seb and I came up with the idea for the brand when we were living in Amsterdam in 2017 as part of our fashion degrees. It was during this time, wandering around the streets of the city that we became obsessed with the idea of necessity-type products now being something of aesthetic appreciation. We loved the lifestyle stores and the hybrid cafe/shopping/experience element of the retail scene there. But we noticed that something was missing. There wasn’t much in the way of well-designed, beautiful shoe, garment or home care products, yet hundreds of cosmetic and fragrance brands. We decided to investigate this further: why was every corner of our apartment filled with nice alternatives to things? Our hand wash, our candles, our moisturiser etc. Yet our washing detergent or our cleaning products were so ugly and smelt so manufactured?! It was there that the idea stemmed and developed.
Care products have traditionally been less concerned with harmful ingredients and sustainability. Can you talk us through the journey of creating environmentally friendly, ethically made and biodegradable formulas?
When looking into the market more deeply, we were surprised to find that, aside from the way these household products usually looked, they were also almost always full of toxic chemicals that were bad for us (as well as our wildlife) and generally packaged in non-recyclable plastic packaging. Fortunately, things have come a long way since then. People are much more educated on nasty ingredients and more conscious of their purchasing choices. 

We combined traditional cleaning methods (using naturally occurring things found in the home) with innovative ingredients and methods through the help of external chemists and experts; blending the two to create high-performance products that weren’t at the earth's or our health’s expense. We both studied fashion at university and were deeply affected by the waste of the industry and fast fashion in particular. This instilled a need to try and do our bit with our brand, ensuring that all of our business decisions could always be made with a priority for sustainability in mind.
Shoe Cleaning Solution Attirecare
What are your top tips for caring for footwear to ensure a lifetime of wear?
Preventative measures are key! If you use our Protector Spray on a brand-new pair of shoes straight out of the box, they will last so much longer. Quick cleans more often will also ensure they stay looking fresh for as long as possible.
The Protector Attirecare
What are some of the common misconceptions you come across in garment care?
In the past, people were more likely to buy cheaper items and replace them when broken or worn out. But now, we are seeing a shift in buying behaviour in which people are choosing to buy less but buy well, and use care products like ours to ensure they last a lifetime.
Cleaning Brush Attirecare
What about the ESSEN ethos resonates with you?  
ESSEN’s on-demand manufacturing model is the same production method we have implemented at Attirecare. By using small-batch and made-to-order processes, we can ensure that our waste is significantly reduced. We love that ESSEN not only uses responsible manufacturing methods and high-quality materials but also acknowledges the work that still needs to be done within the industry. Small actions make a difference and you can create change by using conscious materials and reusable packaging as well as choosing to be transparent and partnering with charities and organisations for good. Many brands could take note of what ESSEN is doing – we love it!
How does knowledge of care inform your own purchase decisions?
Once you start to look into your purchasing habits, it becomes second nature. If you plan to keep something forever and use it over and over, you will look at the piece differently. A good place to start is by purchasing items second-hand and making sure the fabrics and ingredients used are as responsible and ethical as possible.
Leather Cream Attirecare
Which piece have you had in your wardrobe for the longest? How have you extended its lifetime with care?
I think the oldest piece in my wardrobe is a Maje trench that I bought when I was 18 working in a luxury department store, and it comes out every single year without fail! All of my outerwear are pieces that I bring out year after year, I always spray them with our Garment Protector at the start of each winter season – this makes the fabric stronger and less exposed to the elements, meaning they will inevitably last so much longer. 
You have just opened your new HQ, what’s next for Attirecare?
This year marks the year of some really exciting expansion for Attirecare into the Asia-Pacific market. We’re launching in Japan this month, which is something we’ve been working towards for some time now, so it feels like a big moment for us. Plus, some amazing new products are on the horizon and we’ve taken our packaging to a whole new level.
And finally, do you have a repair/cobbler recommendation for our audience in London? 
Seb and I went to an industry talk recently where we learned about a brand called SOJO – a door-to-door clothing alterations and repairs service based in London. That was super cool and something we wish we’d had when we lived there. We hope it comes to Manchester soon!