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The story behind Essentiel is almost as fairy-tale like as some of the fashion house’s collections. It all started when the founders, Inge Onsea and Esfan Eghtessadi, launched a T-shirt collection in 1999 consisting of four styles in 20 colors. The young couple had come from the fashion business; Inge had worked as a model, and Esfan rolled into the sector as the son of designer Nicole Cadine. The T-shirts were popular and in the years that followed, sweaters, jackets, dresses, blouses, pants and ccessories were added to the line.
Their first showroom was their apartment. Today, the couple heads up a unique fashion label that produces nine men’s and women’s collections per year, and is represented in over 40 countries. Essentiel has either opened boutiques or has a brand presence in department stores in South Korea, the United States, the Arab Emirates and Russia. The brand stands out thanks to its prints, its cheerful yet luxurious style and its own quirky character. We want to be your pink pill. We want to battle boredom.We want to dress your emotions. This is the company philosophy.
Nine collections per year
“Essentiel works with pre-collections two months before the summer and winter collections come out,” says Bénédicte Verschraegen, import/export and customer service manager at Essentiel. “This is a way for our brand to prolong the sales cycle, the stores can roll out more promotions, and customers will find new items more often. In between these launches, Essentiel also releases flash collections consisting of around 40 items in the middle of a season to recharge sales. We also work with capsules of 15 items focusing on a certain theme or personality. And finally, Essentiel launches an annual beachwear collection, bringing the total number of collections to nine.” A great challenge for the stylists who often work on three or four collections simultaneously.
“Nine collections per year means that the process from drawing table to point-of-sale has to move quickly,” Bénédicte Verschraegen continues. “Our clothing lines are designed in Belgium and produced in Asia by a select group of production partners. Since the pace has to remain high, we have been calling on the expertise of Gosselin in Asia for over 10 years now; we simply cannot afford delays or mediocre quality. Since 99.9% of the clothing is shipped via air freight, only a negligible portion is sent by ship.”
From Thailand, Gosselin coordinates the logistics for the production facilities to a central warehouse in Belgium or elsewhere in the world. In the early years, the average was around 150 shipments and 125 tons per year. Bénédicte worked with the same contact person during this entire period, Suree Preutianant, Asia business development manager. A strong bond of trust developed between the two. “Even though we’re working with a five-hour time difference, she is available whenever we need her. If we send an email in the evening, we have the response in our mailbox by breakfast time. She understands exactly what’s important to us.”
Suree has worked in the logistics sector for almost 20 years, and has become specialized in the textiles segment. “I am responsible for the door-to-door delivery. For Essentiel, I look for the right balance between price, quality and speed. After all, these are high-end products that need to move fast. Essentiel really puts a lot of trust in us: this is what we need you to do, take care of it. The best compliment? We can close our eyes and still know that we will receive timely updates, and that the cargo will arrive safely and in good condition. If Essentiel has doubts about a supplier, they also ask for my advice. This trust is extremely satisfying,” says Suree, who over the years has also become an Essentiel fan. “The proof is in my closet!”