If someone asked me what beauty and fashion have in common at the moment, I would say that in both sectors it’s the indie brands that are pushing the envelope forward – both in terms of style and sustainability.
Cue Story mfg, a London-based label with a focus on slow-made, artisanal denim that despite its old-school manufacturing techniques sports a distinctly contemporary aesthetic.
Founders Bobbin Threadbare, a tech blogger (his name is not a coincidence), and Katy Katazome, a former WGSN forecaster, traveled far and deep to find a bunch of retired lady farmers they could team up with for an eco-conscious, ethical and truly sustainable denim line harkening back at the good, old times.
When I visited them in their Hackney studio, I immediately knew I was onto something special.
What makes them green?
The clothing is produced in small quantities, using organic, home-grown fiber, and is dyed via a cool cocktail based on a detox formula that includes plants, lime, bacteria and the skilled manual labor of its rural artisans as the main ingredients. The farmers grow the cotton and the indigo plants in their own backyard, spin the yarn, ferment the indigo (as opposed to loading it up with sodium hydrosulfite [see: Green Glossary] to speed up the reduction process), then dye and weave the fabric in their own four walls.
Hand weaving and natural fermentation, of course, are time-consuming activities, but instead of trapping their workers in a hamster wheel of never-ending hours and poor working conditions, the brand simply looks for more people when needed.
Call it the antipode of fast-fashion.
Story mfg is not opposed to new technologies. On the contrary, for their fall 2016 collection, the duo gave a taste of their ability to mix the old with the new, using Jeanologia’s laser to conjure what it branded as “laser rain,” a volley of fresh-looking, futuristic patterns instead of the usual tears and whiskers that crowd the shelves on high street. The collaboration gave a glimpse of the laser’s potential when picked up by proper creatives.
What’s the advantage?
The clothes look, feel and even smell different. And, boy, do they last! The founders say sustainability pays off. Not doing washes saves costs, cutting well into the fabric saves scraps and not flying the fabrics and garments around the globe saves loads on taxes. Its business model is simple: “We make the garment within the vicinity of where the fabric was made. Buyers order it, we make it, they pick it up in India. There is no excess flying.”
Their Tellus patchwork jacket and home-grown organic cotton workwear jacket dubbed Sundae, in a hand-loomed twill weave, are absolutely divine. It takes about six to 12 days to dye, cut, arrange and sew the pieces together. Talking of slow fashion!
“Sustainability needs punk, to be reactionary against the generation above us who f ** k things up. Say ‘We are not like you, we are not going to buy this.’ You have to tap into that rebellion, that anti-establishment attitude, creating a positive experience. Don’t talk about how negative the industry is because nobody wants to hear that.” – Bobbin Threadbare
Swing by their Hackney studio, where they treat indigo-aficionados to a round of “punk-style” dyeing workshops, in which you can spice up those old pieces that have been lying around in your closet without any use.