In Conversation: STORY mfg
Born out of a desire for a more authentic, fulfilling and kind approach to fashion, STORY mfg. have rejected the accelerated pace of the mainstream and instead focus on hand dyed products made with a ‘Slow Made' ethic. The brainchild of Bobbin Threadbare and Katy Katazome, the brand uses local resources and artisans to proudly craft each piece.
Story promote the creation of ‘positive products’ without compromising on quality or aesthetic. Their organic cotton, handloom selvedge British jeans and anti-fit jackets carry through timeless work wear cuts with an incredible attention to detail. As we welcome this season’s collection to the store, we spoke to the brand about their innovative processes, sustainability in fashion and the genesis of the brand.
Can you tell us something about where STORY mfg. came from? How did your backgrounds in tech and trend forecasting contribute to the brand?
STORY mfg. came out of nowhere – its an excellent word (great shape) and kind of said everything we intended the brand to be. We wanted a company that would make the story of the products to be part of the product itself, with a focus on the manufacturing (mfg) – it just so happened to have a nice ring to it too.
I think our backgrounds helped a lot. Katy has a keen designers eye and a huge amount of experience – she’s seen everything in her time as a trend forecaster so when something is fresh to her its really really fresh. For me, I’ve worked in fashion but can approach design as a tourist which I think is liberating.
You clearly take great pleasure in making. Can you explain more about the drive behind this meticulous attention to detail and finish?
We care about details – we really are quite particular about the way things should look and feel. It’s heartbreaking when you see something that’s almost perfect, if it wasn’t for a crappy detail, a bad zipper, badly placed pockets or a boring fabric choice. By the time something makes it into being, we’ve obsessed, discussed and debated every part of it until we’re both happy it’s the best thing it can be.
What does the terminology ‘slow made’ mean to you?
Slow Made can mean a lot of things but to us it’s a statement of intent. We didn’t set out to make things that are slow to create – at first it was infuriating that we would have to wait three months for enough fabric to make a few samples. Now, knowing that fabric has taken days to dye, days to weave and hours to sew (not discounting the hundreds of hours of growing and harvesting raw ingredients) makes for a much more interesting garment.
Being slow made means we don’t rush things, and actively seek out the slow and special things that companies and brands aren’t set up to use. Being slow means thinking about every decision, and using each new season as an evolution of the previous, not reinventing ourselves every six months. Perhaps most importantly, being slow means celebrating the makers, and giving customers inside access to the very special processes we are witness to.
Your products are made to last, but can you explain more about your approach of producing ‘positive products’?
I think we live in a time of doom and gloom when it comes to the state of the world and most notably the environment. We want to remain positive – creating products that actually benefit the environment, the earth, and the people that make them.
What’s the story behind this collection?
“FULL ENGLISH” takes inspiration from British hotels, cafe’s and seaside bed and breakfasts that remain unchanged and in stasis from the heyday of the British holiday retreat in the 60’s and 70’s.
Staying true to our signature vintage shapes we bring back the 1940’s fit Time Jacket, Sundae Jacket and British Jeans, we introduce a more playful tone to our signature indigo and ecru palette – sun kissed orange denim hand woven from organic cotton naturally dyed in madder root.
What’s your favourite piece from this collection?
Katy loves the British jeans which she wears pretty much daily!
As a future-facing brand concerned with contributing to a better world of fashion, what comes next? How do you grow and continue to maintain sustainability?
This is something we get asked a lot – or rather, people assume that as soon as we get a big order we’ll swap the handlooms for machines and the natural dyes for synthetics. While it’s true our items are slow to make, we like that, so instead of asking a weaver to weave faster, or mechanising the process, we’ll simply work with more weavers. We’re going to keep expanding outwards, getting more and more people involved.
On the more tech-y side, we’re using new technologies (and some old, repurposed ones) to push new boundaries.
Words by Rebecca Field. Shop a selection of Story MFG. pieces online and instore.