Colourful Language: Marre Muijs on creativity and classic footwear
WORDS BY MAX BENGTSSON IMAGES BY SAM WONG
Like many of our Colourful Language friends, Marre Muijs is an all-rounder! One who worked for many years in creative and branding, then for a footwear wholesaler in Melbourne and most recently completed a four year stint over in London. She’s now the owner, designer, marketer, accountant and you-name-it of ESSEN, a label that creates timeless, sophisticated shoes that are accessible for all.
Marre is the cherry on the top of Colourful Language Season One — our final guest on what has been an epic and very colourful creative journey. We loved hearing about ESSEN and her journey in reimagining classic footwear by focusing on what’s essential to the shoe, then cutting out the excess. We also spoke about her experience within the fashion industry back in her home country and how it compares to the Melbourne scene.
My boss was a fourth generation shoemaker — I learned quickly about what’s involved in crafting a beautiful and technically sound shoe. That's when the penny really dropped.
Travelling around the world with her boss, visiting different factories, engineering shoes and understanding the technical process really sparked her love of shoes. ‘But during that time, I saw how much waste was happening in the industry. And despite being in the thick of it, I couldn't really find a sophisticated, timeless shoe that didn't break the bank. So I really started to think about what my own line of footwear would look like if I could design it.’ This where ESSEN essentially came from — the perfect mix of an environmental vision with an affordable price tag.
She tells us that ‘it’s everything from material wastage to toxins used’, and how she’s come up with a few smart strategies to keep waste low. ‘I'm so close with the factories that I can offer seasonless staples and I don't have to produce in the peak production period. So I try and really support small factories during the quiet periods in the year. And doing that also means that I can get back to repeat orders quite quickly, so I can always keep a very low stock. So if, for instance, a colour wouldn't work, then I'm not stuck with hundreds of shoes that I don't need to sell or clear or worse — burn — like we see a lot of luxury brands doing.’

With a whole lot of European experience under her belt, Marre decided to leave places like Paris and London to build her brand down under. ‘I just wanted to do something different. The creative community here blew me away. I think Australian brands and the Melbourne creative scene has this incredible and very unique DNA that's inspired me from the start.’
In the Netherlands and London, people are always on the go, which influences their fashion choices. Maybe that’s where my desire for practical footwear comes from.
A new, upcoming collection of hers features a shade of white/blue that’s almost identical to our Bubble Bath hue. So when she took on her Colourful Language project, it was a match made in heaven. ‘I'm very inspired by colour, texture and materials in general — even when working with my shoes. And it was one colour, Bubble Bath that I loved! So immediately I knew that I wanted to do something with this colour.’ She’s created an eye-catching art piece on canvas that prides itself in the details. ‘It took me a couple of weekends, because I wanted to get the different layers right and then sand it back, then paint, sand, paint. I used plaster to really bring the texture to bring it to life and lift different colours and celebrate the materials.’
It's been very rewarding having that tangible product at the end and having time to think creatively again.
If you’re interested in Marre’s timeless, affordable and conscious footwear designed for life, follow @essenthelabel on Insta or head to essenthelabel.com to see more.
Thanks from all of us at Tint—we loved creating the Colourful Language project and talking to all our amazing artist mates along the way. Feel free to check out any you may have missed and keep your eyes peeled for our next big project! Stay colourful, much love.
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