Fashion brand Ester Manas offers sensual clothes for everyone

Ester Manas and Balthazar Delepierre make clothes for the authentic, constantly evolving and modern woman. The duo at the head of an inclusive fashion brand Ester Manas creations for women who express themselves without shame, who live freely and take up space. Thoughtful cutouts and lingerie-like gathers compose the pieces, revealing that Manas and Delepierre intuitively understand the female form and hold a three-dimensional conceptualization of femininity. The Brussels-based brand is also a bit radical: Ester Manas does not adhere to industry standard sizes and, instead, only offers one-size-fits-all garments. Pieces in stretch materials — like the brand’s signature ruched cotton dresses – fits all from 3XS to 3XL. Other more technical garments are divided into two categories: size 1, which covers 3XS to L, and size 2, which ranges from XL to 3XL.

It is notorious that the size of the blankets has been ill-fitting at best and disastrous at worst. Manas and Delepierre, however, apparently cracked the code through engineering. “It’s really a lot of work, but once we find a formula that works on many girls, we can develop many models and apply it to many parts,” says Delepierre about the size technique of the brand, which he and Manas began designing when they were at La Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de la Cambre in Brussels together.

“At first we were looking through an IKEA catalog and found inspiration in an extendable table that you could expand by adding more pieces, which is a really user-friendly design because you can accommodate people,” he said. at TZR on Zoom. Delepierre is getting excited now, realizing he’s stumbled upon an apt and deliciously serious metaphor: “That’s what we need to do in fashion: we need to grow and invite more people into the industry.”

In the minds of Manas and Delepierre, bodily inclusivity is not a trend to be capitalized on, but a value to be strongly defended – and it is a value rooted in the etiquette’s foundation. “At the end of her five years at La Cambre, Ester wanted to do her last collection on why a girl like Ester, who is not a skinny girl, does not find her place in fashion today”, explains Delepierre. . Drawing on knowledge acquired during internships at Balenciaga, Acne Studios and Paco Rabanne, the duo created the “Still Big” capsule, comprised of garments made with waistbands, snaps and adjustable straps to fit everyone from US size 2 to size 18. The collection went on to win the Galeries Lafayette Scholarship 2019 to Hyeres Festivalinspiring the two to officially launch their brand the same year.

Manas and Delepierre, who also made it to the semi-finals of the 2020 LVMH Prize for their inspired work, thought long and hard about what a woman needs in her wardrobe. Longevity, they discovered, is a top priority. “The concept of intelligent dimensioning makes it possible to preserve the parts over time”, specifies Delepierre. “Let’s say you get pregnant or your body changes – you don’t have to throw the piece away, which is kind of the most sustainable way to [participate] trendy,” he suggests.

Delepierre reveals that their holistic view of fashion is mostly driven by crowdsourcing with the women in their lives. “A lot of our ideas come, of course, from Ester because she’s a woman,” says Delepierre. “But our collections [are based] about the discussions we have with our role models and friends,” he says, likening these conversations to focus groups. “We [ask:] ‘What do you want? What do you like? Do you want to hide this part of your body, or do you want to show it?’ The two then take the insights gathered from these fashion and anthropology sessions and infuse it into their design process.


Courtesy of Ester Manas


Manas working backstage at the brand’s ‘Dress Different’ Spring/Summer show.Courtesy of Ester Manas


Courtesy of Ester Manas

Often in these conversations, the sex appeal comes up. “At the end of the day, we want to sell clothes that are cool and sexy,he declares, linking the intention of the mark to the novelty unfortunately for tall people to be represented in a sensual context. The co-founder refers to brands that dress “curvy models in full-coverage designs — like oversized shirts and baggy pieces,” a design approach he finds dull and uninspired. “We have oversized pieces, but that’s not what we want to put forward in the collection because that’s a non-design thing. I mean, in that case, just wear your grandpa’s shirt,” he jokes.

Delepierre is getting serious now, saying that when fashion brands include tall people in their runways only to wrap them in concealed clothing, thus hiding their bodies from view, that’s not true inclusivity. “And from the customer’s point of view, it’s really obvious [when a brand isn’t actually inclusive] because you’ll see incredible campaigning on the streets, but then you go to the stores and they don’t sell your size,” he describes. Delepierre calls this “body washing,” a hollow effort for diversity akin to the sustainable equivalent known as greenwashing. “That’s not what it’s about. It’s about designing with [plus-size folks] in mind, embracing their bodies, listening to them and understanding what they need.

As the conversation draws to a close, the Brussels-based creator says he has recently observed the industry improving in the wake of the pandemic reinvigorating the collective imagination. “We can actually see fashion changing in a positive way, and that’s exciting. Hopefully it’ll be like the new 60s,” he laughs. Delepierre and Manas injected that positivity into the upcoming fall collection- the brand’s winter 2022, which debuts this Paris Fashion Week.”Ester and I are very confident about the upcoming collection, the future of fashion, and the creative industry as a whole,” shares- Delepierre remains vague on specifics, but given the brand’s previous work, the new drop will no doubt be an innovative and celebratory love letter dedicated to women.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

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