The Unstated Woman: Marre Muijs
Founder and Creative Director of sustainable footwear brand ESSĒN, Marre Muijs epitomises the unstated woman. Her innovative perspective on the fashion industry and femininity, are definitely accountable for the success of ESSĒN.
We spoke to her about how the label, quality and craftsmanship, and her tips for dressing well.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how ESSĒN came to be?
I have always loved shoes - even from an early age.
Even though they are regarded as accessories, shoes are the foundation pieces of a well-curated wardrobe and a great outfit. Shoes carry us, add to our height, alter our posture and affect our confidence. I’ve always thought you can learn a lot about a person just by looking at their shoes; they hold character and allow you to play with aspects of your identity and the image we want to broadcast to the world. Many women are willing to play with their shoes in a way they don’t play with the other parts of their wardrobe. If you are wearing good shoes you can get away with just about anything.
I founded ESSĒN as a response to a fashion cycle that overproduces more than it carefully crafts, chases trends more than it determines classics, and wastes more than it sustains. With ESSĒN, I strive to slow down that cycle so that we can focus on making every piece essential.
ESSĒN encourages people to purchase less and choose better. I aspire to simplify women’s wardrobes, by helping them consider what they really need - nothing more, nothing less. That’s where the name comes from – essentials.
What inspired you to create your own brand?
I truly believe less is more. I encourage people to buy less, by buying better. The fashion industry has been oversaturated with disposable and poorly constructed products for far too long; ESSĒN was founded as a response. I aspired to create a brand that would uphold a more conscious pace and process, where things are made with genuine care and detail.
Despite working in the footwear industry, I found myself searching to find sophisticated, timeless and comfortable shoes that were ethically made, without the designer price tag. A search that quickly proved that these were very difficult to find.
After having this conversation with friends one too many times, I decided I was going to try and create the perfect collection of quality wardrobe staples myself. I’ve always thought great shoes are an investment – so for ESSĒN I combined the classic with the contemporary in the hope of creating timeless shoes you’ll want to wear for years to come.
With a conscious release of limited edition styles, the idea is to curate a range of purposely trans-seasonal pieces. This allows our customers to gradually assemble their ideal range of year-round footwear. With time, they will have the perfect pair to wear on the weekend, to work or out in the evening.
What is the brand ethos?
ESSĒN offers timeless essentials that are aesthetically beautiful, supremely comfortable and ethically made.
Why are quality and craftsmanship important to you?
The best shoes in the world are made by craftsmen in Italy, Portugal and Spain, so that’s where I went to create the shoes. I was careful about how I sourced suppliers, and am fortunate now to work with the best shoe factories in the world – the same ones that produce much of the footwear for luxury brands.
Because I wanted to do it right, I started small. All styles are handmade by local, family-run factories in Italy, Portugal and Spain by expert artisans who have been making shoes for generations. They are responsible for the construction of every pair we make. From the leather selection, the engineering of the lasts and the hand finishing of the shoes; the entire range is handmade by people who care about every single pair produced. It’s why I love doing this, tapping into the pleasure of knowing you are making something of real quality. In the process, I’ve become good friends with everyone involved; we’ve sat at the kitchen tables of our suppliers, shared wine and listened to their advice.
The pieces are very refined yet, contemporary. They could be said to embody modern femininity, what does ‘modern femininity’ mean to you?
For me, modern femininity is about knowing yourself and being true to your own individual style. My shoes & understated designs are the building blocks that complement this type of woman and allowing her to move seamlessly throughout her day. As we get older we get more comfortable in our own skin. There is nothing more stylish than a wardrobe that truly reflects who you are!
What kind of woman do you design for?
I’m not designing for one type of woman, I’m inspired by modern women all over the world. My aim is to make women feel like their best selves. I believe that what you wear has a direct impact on the way you feel, which can have a profound impact on every aspect of your life.
My designs are inspired by the modern woman’s day-to-day realities. My shoes are hardworking classics that are aesthetically beautiful, supremely comfortable and ethically made. They allow you to move seamlessly and confidently through your day, without compromising on style, comfort, and craftsmanship. They’re the type of shoes I believe a woman will not only feel great in but do great in day after day.
My designs are worn by women who embrace their femininity whilst pursuing their goals. It’s about giving her autonomy and allowing her to fulfill whichever role she wants to fulfill, whether that’s being a stay-at-home mum or being a creative director or lawyer.
What are your tips for dressing well?
I’m always looking for simplicity and confidence in what I wear: classic pieces, with a twist; an outfit that gives me confidence for the day.
By tapping into my own needs while designing the shoes, I can not only curate a more conscious collection, but also a more authentic one. One thing I never compromise on is quality. For ESSĒN, every shoe and every decision is made with this in mind.