Five Things - Story MFG
Clarity of conscience and a stead fast conviction are two traits that are not always bed fellows in the fashion industry. Not so with husband and wife duo Saeed and Katy Al-Rubeyi aka Story MFG. Who’s core brand values are built around 100% sustainable practices and regenerative agriculture. Using hand craft, only natural dies, organic ingredients and cottons, all their products are made in one factory and fully transparent from start to finish. The industry needs more brands like this, its that simple...
The couple are often travelling, but we managed to grab some rare face time with them in their Paris Showroom during AW19 PFW to get their “5 Things”
What was the moment that changed your world ?
The moment that changed our world was probably a conversation we had in Paris in late 2012 with a chap who worked with a giant Indian mill producing denim for all the big guys. We were chatting to him about our ambition to find small-scale, naturally dyed, eco fabrics and he had by chance a connection to the craft himself and gave us a list of three places to visit in India. The following day, Katy and I spent every penny we had at the time and bought tickets to go out and visit these places (on boxing day, no less). Within a few days of that conversation we were visiting cotton farms, indigo dyers and weavers - and STORY mfg was born.
Neither of us realised then how pivotal that trip would be - we originally planned to just make one style of jeans in a few ‘“slow made” fabrics - but it was the start of something really special for us and the people we now work with.
Where in the world is your physical and spiritual home ?
Physically we have been ‘homeless’, or maybe over ‘homeful’, for a couple of years now as we have been travelling developing the brand (mostly across India and Thailand). I’m writing this on a train, but we can also be found in beach huts, guest houses and apartments anywhere from India to Japan, Thailand or France. We have tried the traditional studio-based model in the past — one being an old shop in East London, and the other a narrowboat travelling through London — but they haven’t worked for us.
Spiritually I’d say London is probably it for us. Neither of us are through-and-through Londoners (Katy grew up in the cold North) and I spent my formative years in Baghdad, but it’s where we always come back to (even if we love to moan about it). London is such a strange melting pot in all regards and we find that by staying away and coming back every now and again there’s always new and interesting things to see.
What does the world need now ?
The world needs more nuanced thinking and less extremism. We need more companies who value mother earth and don’t use it as a breadbasket and trashcan. We need more truth in marketing. We need more inclusivity in all areas and more understanding. We need more environmentally educated designers. We need more natural fibre development. We need more vegans. We need more honesty about so called ‘sustainable’ companies. We need more people living a good life with good wages and less people dying to make things cheaply. We need more regenerative agriculture projects. We need more opportunities for young people. We need more love for living things and we need a lot more recycling projects.
Who and what rocks your world ?
I think creatively craft rocks our world. It may sound twee but there’s honestly nothing that gives us more life than a good bit of artisanal approach to something otherwise mass produced. We approach the brand the same way we think old fashion houses used to - where they would almost be a patron of the arts — a commercial force that kept niche techniques alive. Katy says good food rocks her world.
How do you use the world to inspire your creative process?
The world is quite literally our greatest inspiration. All our fabrics are made of 100% plant based materials - that includes the dyes too. Our setup is almost more like a fine winery than a fashion brand - we leave a lot of the design up to the weather, soil, crop and we just work with what we are given. It’s liberating and challenging in equal measures.