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.
We’re in a climate emergency and we care about reducing our CO2 emissions. We recognise the contradiction between the current fashion industry, producing for consumption, and the concept of sustainability. But shoes are an everyday necessity and we believe that fashion can also be a force for good, and a vehicle for change.
We don’t know if fashion can ever be sustainable but we try and do better by designing better systems and being as responsible as we can every day. Our ambition is to create a footwear brand that upholds a more conscious pace and process and does no harm when it's produced or when it's consumed.
We’re focusing on tracking the CO2 footprint across our supply chain. A lot of complex math is taken into account to offset carbon emissions - we take into consideration annual business operation data and things such as the weight, distance travelled, and cargo type when calculating emissions. We work with a third party to carbon compensate the making and shipping of our shoes by supporting energy efficiency, forestry, or clean energy projects that offset the same (or more) amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere and are imposing a carbon tax on ourselves. We know we’re not saving the planet by investing in carbon offsets, but we are reducing the amount of overall carbon that we’re emitting, and if other people did that too, it would make our climate goals a lot easier to achieve. See how many trees we've protected since the recent implementation of our program, or view our full impact page here.
We believe that one of the biggest problems in the fashion industry is overconsumption. ESSEN encourages people to buy less and choose better. We aspire to simplify women’s wardrobes, by helping them consider what they really need and edit out excess. That’s where the name comes from – essentials.
ESSEN is a permanent collection of no-compromise pieces - timeless classics that are made to last. Moving away from traditional seasons and not being focused on the fashion calendar allows us to take all the time we need when designing our shoes to ensure lasting appeal. With a permanent collection, there is no limit to the resources we can invest in our designs. So we take it slow, developing, testing and releasing one key piece at a time.
Our intention is for our shoes to retain their value and for customers to have a long-term relationship with them, rather than just a short fling. Our definition of progress is reduced wardrobes, built on those fundamental wardrobe staples that will stand the test of time.
Our business model revolves around small-batch production and on-demand manufacturing processes. Producing on-demand enables us to accurately calculate demand so we only produce what we sell, minimising waste and overproduction. This also means you have a high degree of influence over our business & designs and you’re getting something made especially for you in a vetted, ethical factory.
Supply chains can be exploitative and it’s really challenging for a small brand like ESSEN to pay for the significant infrastructural changes, but we have to find a way. We’re very careful about how we source suppliers, but the challenge with footwear is tracing every single element that goes into a shoe, as there are many!
The artisans in our workshops have been making shoes for generations, and bring heart and expertise to every pair we make. They’ve become our friends and are involved in every point in the process, which has enabled us to start conversations and take action on social and environmental issues.
Not everyone in the supply chain is able to meet our standards instantly, but if they’re willing to put in the effort we can work through it together - transparency and collaboration is key, and being as responsible as you can. Our goal is to have full visibility & traceability across the entire supply chain.
Real leather is falling out of fashion for its impact on the environment and animal welfare, and plant-based leathers are taking off. But these leather alternatives still rely on chemical processing to give them a leather-like feel and durability. Most vegan leather is made of plastic, specifically polyurethane, PVC or polyester which are all non-biodegradable materials made of fossil fuels, presenting big environmental problems of their own. We are always researching innovative leather alternatives but a perfect solution that meets our sustainability standards is not yet available.
Leather is durable and can be an eco-friendly material. We only work with high quality LWG certified non-toxic leathers that have minimum impact on the environment and the people that work with them.
We work closely with our supply chain to understand how our leathers are being sourced, so we can trace them all the way back to the networks of farms they originated from, and assure care for the animals and that zero deforestation policies are in place. Then, knowing how the leather is being processed, we can take actions like reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals in tanning. Learn more about our leathers here.
We understand the responsibility we have as a business to support others in the same way our customers support us - in both the good times, and the bad. We think it’s important to not just make one-off donations, but to build long-term behaviour that supports giving back.
In order to achieve this, we have proudly partnered with i=Change so we can raise awareness to causes we feel connected to we can make a difference together. Learn more about the charities we support here.