At ESSEN, we constantly challenge ourselves to do more for our customers and the world we share. We carefully consider the design, production process and material of each style so they have a greater impact on your wardrobe and a smaller impact on the environment.
In an effort to minimize overconsumption, ESSEN is about versatile dressing so you can minimize what’s in your wardrobe. We offer a permanent collection of no-compromise pieces: timeless classics that are reimagined in new ways that feel chic without any effort. We know you care about the impact of your shoes, so we focus on using better materials to make our shoes environmentally conscious.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
We only ever use leather that is a by-product of the meat industry, which would otherwise go to waste. We will never use exotic skins.
When you know how your leather is being sourced, you can trace it all the way back to the networks of farms they originated from, so you can ensure positive outcomes for the environment and care for the animals. Then, knowing how the leather is being processed, you can take actions like reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals in tanning. Here are some other important initiatives our tanneries are taking:
About 20% of our world’s wastewater is a direct result of material dyeing and treatment, with this untreated wastewater being pumped back into our water systems, contaminating its contents with toxins and heavy metals.
This negatively impacts the health of the water and the animals that consume it, including us humans. Our workshops have comprehensive internal waste management systems and The LWG-Silver certification signifies that our suppliers are responsibly managing chemical and physical waste.
The introduction of new technology and machinery results in 40% less solvent consumption during finishing, and thereby further reducing the amount that ends up in the atmosphere and waste water.
Our tanneries make a conscious effort to recycle the water they use to reduce overall consumption. They’ve installed wastewater recovery plants for a second use along the production chain and wastewater treatment plants so they can recycle and reuse the water for cleaning operations.
The production wastewater is transferred to a local treatment plant, where it gets treated, sanitized and returned to the environment. On average, using LWG rated leather manufacturers save 12.1 billion litres of water, every year.
Our tanneries work with chemicals that have 40% less environmental impact and where possible use water-based products. All our leathers are free from metal and toxic chemicals such as chrome-6, which is harmful to humans and the environment.
Whilst chrome-6 is toxic and can cause respiratory illnesses including respiratory cancer, chrome-3 is essential for humans to metabolise carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and therefore an essential dietary element.
We use non-toxic, chrome-3 tanned aniline leathers because many colours (including white) are still only achievable with chrome tanning. This process uses significantly less water and energy and the final leather is water resistant, softer and thinner, making for a more comfortable product. Aniline leathers demand the best quality hides and require true craftsmen to ‘read’ the leathers.
It’s very important to us to work with local craftsman and celebrate their time-honoured craft, producing in limited quantities or entirely on-demand, to only make what we need so we can further minimise waste and overproduction.
The real challenge in footwear is tracing every single component that goes into a shoe, as there are many.
This is another reason why we produce in Europe, because all components and materials can be sourced locally. Wherever possible we use excess trimmings from other factories or used recycled plastic in an effort to avoid high-quality materials ending up in landfill and minimising the need for virgin materials that require large amounts of petroleum, energy and water to produce.Whilst not everyone in the supply chain is able to meet our standards instantly, if they’re willing to put in the effort we can work through it and make a change together. It’s not nearly enough. But it’s a start. We’ll keep researching new methods and materials, and will continue to evolve and be as responsible as we can be.