Introducing ESSEN x Friends with Frank. A three-piece belt collaboration between two like-minded brands, who share a love of quality craftsmanship and design by a less-is-more philosophy.
Made in Italy, this capsule collection has been consciously crafted from premium LWG-Gold certified leathers and recycled metal hardware. Read on below to discover founders and friends - Julia and Marre - discuss the inspiration behind the collection, the production process, and the experience of working together collaboratively.
Julia: "I am always intrigued by and look for small brands crafting beautiful pieces. ESSEN struck me as incredibly chic with a strong brand aesthetic, but also a brand that had a strong sense of purpose. High-quality essential footwear, slow and considered.
At first I thought I was purchasing from a European brand, however when I pleasantly found out all the footwear was made in Europe - but actually designed here in Melbourne - I felt an urge to reach out to the founder to say how much I loved what she was doing, and I guess you could say the rest is history. Marre and I became fast friends, and a day rarely goes by that we aren’t talking or sharing inspiration and having play dates with our almost two-year-olds, who were born only weeks apart!
In terms of our brand alignment, they couldn’t be more on the same page. Our design philosophy centres around wardrobe classics, with an emphasis on quality materials and craftsmanship. We are constantly sharing inspiration when it comes to design and process. If you’ve come to our Melbourne Showroom before, where ESSEN shoes are available in addition to the FWF range, you’ll probably know how well paired our brands are!"
Julia: "A belt is the ultimate classic outfitting accessory and has been for decades. Particularly when wearing a pair of trousers. A simple t-shirt and classic trousers can be instantly pulled together by adding a belt.
We wanted to create an accessory together and couldn’t think of a better piece than a quality leather belt. An Italian made belt made by a small family run business is a piece that our customers can be proud to own…a classic wardrobe accessory that they will have for decades, and a piece that can be handed down to family members."
Marre: "ESSEN is built on a foundation of considered consumption, ethical manufacturing and transparency, all of which have been key to our approach to this collaboration. The belts are handmade by a small, family run workshop in Italy. Incredibly, most of the team have been making leather goods for 20 or 30 years.
We only use LWG-Gold certified leathers – the most responsible leather available in the market. The buckles are hand-moulded in understated but interesting shapes and made from recycled metals.
For both our brands, versatility is also a key consideration when designing new pieces, so we spent a lot of time researching buckles and testing leathers."
Julia: "It’s been great working with Marre. She has an extensive knowledge of high quality materials, particularly when it comes to leather and metal components, which meant firstly that I learned a lot! But it also meant I could focus more on ensuring the design of the collaboration really encapsulated and reflected our respective labels’ design philosophy."
Julia: "The Double Wrap Belt looks fabulous wrapped around our classic Odette Blazer or our coats. The Essential Belt is specifically designed to be worn with our classic Wide Leg Trousers. This with a simple tank or shirt is one of those no-brainer outfits, that can be worn on repeat and look polished every time. Our croc belt - The Classic Belt - has such a special shine and texture to it, that it can really elevate your favourite pair of jeans or trousers.
Experimenting with your belts…wearing them styled over shirts and dresses…can help bring multiple styling options to your wardrobe."
Julia: "Working on this collaboration has been such a great experience, as has working with not only another Melbourne like-minded label, but my beautiful friend as well. We can’t really help ourselves, and we definitely have more ideas that we are working on bringing to life."