Designer to Watch: Christopher Esber

In the past few years, Australia has been the hot spot for new talent, from Kym Ellery to Toni Maticevski. The latest to hit our radars is designer Christopher Esber, who has just launched an exclusive collection with Lane Crawford.

Chris started his namesake label back in 2010 but is already being noticed outside of his native Australia thanks to his unique take on tailoring that mixes feminine and masculine codes on updated classics. His collections are minimalist but sensual, with a strong emphasis on fabrics, making him one to watch.

We grabbed Chris for a quick chat during his recent visit to Hong Kong to find out about his brand and design process. Read on to find out more…

Why did you launch your own label so quickly after graduating?

After I graduated I assisted a stylist on editorials for the likes of Vogue. I was always interested in masculine shapes but didn’t want to design men’s wear. I knew I needed to learn the techniques so I began an internship with a tailor in Sydney who was very strict and adopted German tailoring principals.  I did that for a year before launching my own brand.

Why is Christopher Esber different from other brands out there?

For me it was about taking classics and evolving them from a tailoring perspective. I wanted to strip them down to the purest form with no bells and whistles. What’s key for me is that women get the most out of their wardrobe so all my designs can be dressed up or down, and we always include pieces that are trans-seasonal. Christopher Esber is for a woman who loves fashion but won’t necessary surrender to it. She has an ease to her style and is not overly complicated.

How does your background in men’s tailoring influence your women’s wear?  

I want to make tailoring relevant to women in this day and age. For me, women don’t need to dress like men to be powerful. I work with men’s silhouettes and techniques and then apply them to women’s wear, whether it’s doing seams a certain way or applying a similar construction from men’s jackets. This adds a different weight and body to each piece so that it has an essence of men’s wear but is still feminine. Fabric and colour palette is how I add a sensual touch.

Tell us about the capsule collection you just launched with Lane Crawford…

Again it’s about the classics –  taking the trench coat and chopping it up into a wrap skirt made from a lightweight bamboo fabric. There’s my version of a long-sleeved T-shirt which is elevated thanks to plisse pleats. A sleeveless top comes with a split back and buttons.  In fact many of the styles are punctuated with our signature custom resin buttons, which are handpainted.

Do you take trends into account when you design?

It’s important to be aware of what’s happening around you, but I’ve always been of a mindset that if there’s a trend, why bother to compete with others? I am a small brand so why piggy back on an existing trend when so many others are going to do it better and at a better price point. People come to me for something they can’t find anywhere else. I’ve tried my best to stick to this philosophy.

Why do you think there are so many fashion talents coming out of Australia recently?

Perhaps it’s due to social media, but we are really thinking globally now. It’s a small community too, which means we are all friends and no one is guarded. It’s normal to ask someone like Kym [Ellery] for advice. The fact that we are more visible to the world also increases our competitiveness and awareness.

How do you start designing a collection?

I write down what I want to see in terms of product which provides a skeleton for the collection. Then I have an evolving moodboard, not necessarily of the collection itself, but what I’m feeling. I start sourcing fabrics, and sometimes the material will dictate an idea. I am constantly looking out for things that inspire me.

What’s next for the brand?

Expanding the product line has always been a dream for me, and I’m looking to launch footwear in the next two seasons. I’m also looking to expand into retail, as right now we are just online and wholesale with a few retailers.  At the end of the day I am not the type of designer that need fireworks happening around me all the time.  I am living my dream – I love doing what I’m doing, and I want to grow the business at whatever speed makes me happy.

Christopher Esber is available at www.lanecrawford.com; christopheresber.com.au

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