French Cashmere Brand Estheme Is About to Blow Up

by The Daily Front Row

Estheme will have their debut at Coterie this season. The Daily spoke to Greg Zhu, who runs communications for the label, to find out the scoop and keep you in the loop.

Tell us about the brand’s origins!
The founder, Julie Sheng, graduated from ESMOD, which is the biggest school for fashion studies in Paris. Then she launched the brand. In the beginning, it was small; then we met agents who set up a team to sell all across France. We started working with multi-brand stores. Now we have more than 500 multibrand stores selling our products in France. So it’s well established. Five years ago, we opened our own shops. Now we have eight shops in Switzerland, and we have two shops in Paris.

What did Julie study in school?
Her specialty was coloring and knitwear. Then she worked with people to open a factory for our brand. Now we’re working with our own company on the factory.

This is the first time Estheme will be at Coterie. What are you hoping to get out of the show?
Mainly, we’re looking for an agent for the U.S. market. We have one, but we’re looking for more because the U.S. is so big. Also, we’re looking for new multibrand stores to do partnerships with.

Estheme (Courtesy)

Why is cashmere such a coveted textile?
There are many reasons. The obvious one is that it’s soft. When we touch it, we instantly fall in love. We can feel it’s different. It’s a symbol of quality. People wear cashmere and feel they’re wearing something comfortable, something that should be taken care of. It’s not something that I want to throw away. I buy cashmere, I’ll be careful because it’s pricey and I will want to choose the right one and take care of my cashmere.

What are some other reasons?
It’s a rarer material. It’s harder to get than polyester, wool, or any other cotton. Every year, the production is limited by the number of goats. There are fewer cashmere goats then regular sheep in the world, because the cashmere goats are only in specific areas. The cashmere from our goats come from Inner Mongolia. This maybe the best place for cashmere because the goats are in their natural environment where they’re supposed to live, so they make the best down. Every year, we’re focusing on getting the best down from the best goats.

Are you introducing anything new this season?
We have a new collection named Estheme Studio, and it’s developed with a good designer in France. She was working with a lot of big brands before doing this. All the products have more details. They’re more high-end, classier. It’s a different feeling. Estheme Studio is big news for us because we’re really reaching another level, design-wise.

Cool! Who is this designer?
Her name is Sylvie. She’s experienced. She knows a lot of people, and she’s working to push us to another level. Everything is still Estheme, but the Studio name is just to differentiate this little collection that is quite different and more stylish.

Any other news?
We’re also launching five models in 100 percent organic cashmere. They’re available in four colors—the colors of the down of the goats that hasn’t been tainted by any [dyes]. The color of the down comes straight from the goat.

Sounds like sustainability is important.
I think in the future we’re going more and more in this direction. We will have more organic models in and more maybe sustainable packaging, things like that. Estheme it’s a family business. From the management to all the employees, we’re really passionate about what we do. This is important because we can see it in all the creations. We’re not a big multibillion dollar company. We’re a human-size company that is detail-oriented and loving what we do.

Estheme (Courtesy)

What other ways does Estheme keep its designs fresh?
Every year we print different designs on our sweaters. Some years, we work with artists who paint something. We’ll photograph it and then print it on our cashmere. Depending on the year, we work with many different artists.

Did you always want to work in fashion?
No. I went to business school in France, then worked abroad for a few years and ended up here. But I’m still doing marketing and communication work that was related to my diploma and my studies. I’m also doing more design and creative things, regarding creation of photographs and lookbooks, things like that.

Was there a learning curve to joining the fashion industry?
My mom had a multibrand store, so I knew a little bit but not too much. I think we’re all still learning, everyone in our office!

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