Starting Esse Vie has been the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. I knew that building a business was never going to be easy, but despite this, I set out to create a movement and represent healthy women with curves through my brand.

sonam vaswani
Over the years, I’ve experienced constant frustration when shopping. Mainly because I don’t look remotely like the mannequins or models wearing the clothes we see every day. Often enough, I would find something I love from the high street or a luxury brand, and try it on only to be disappointed by how it fitted my body. I am not plus sized, nor am I unhealthy; my figure is just different, like the majority of women out there. I noticed that what suited a size zero rarely worked for a larger shape, and as a result, my dressing was becoming stagnated. Why was I struggling to find clothes to fit when, as a UK 12, I am smaller than the average size?

It was this question and my intense love for fashion that led me down the path of creating Esse Vie. I started sketching out my ideal designs in my own size, and noticed that scaling down to a smaller size still suited a petite frame. This was the defining moment where I found the formula. I was going to build a brand that caters for curves and grades downwards; the reverse of what happens in today’s fashion industry.

Having come from a business background and designing on the side, I’d need to teach myself as much as I could. I took a year out in 2014 and enrolled myself in various courses at the Fashion Retail Academy, London College of Fashion and Instituto Marangoni in London. I learned how to do basic fashion illustration, and soon enough, I had drawn out my first collection.

Turning those sketches into patterns and prototype after prototype was a really eye- opening process. Fit and comfort was my absolute priority, and the quality of the finished piece had to be perfect. Countless trips to our production facility in Portugal and the hard work and dedication of my team has resulted in the successful launch of an 18-piece SS16 collection in UK sizes 6 to 14.

The reception so far has been overwhelmingly positive and I couldn’t be more proud of what my team’s achieved. I really hope that if you’re reading this, you’ve found an Esse Vie design to get excited about and that you’ll follow us on our journey as we continue to put curves first.

Words by Sonam Vaswani, Esse Vie Founder.