Shot by Glenn Larkby in India. Edited by Unfolding Films
Words by Saeed of Story mfg:
This is hopefully the first of an ongoing series of films designed to take you behind the scenes of our company. We have always been open about the stories of how things are made (it’s so embedded in the company DNA that we literally named the company ‘Story Mfg.’) but so far we’ve been limited by money and time to only photos on Instagram and words on our website. Neither of us has any experience of making films, so we’ve begun to reach out to talented friends in the UK, India and shortly Thailand too.
There are lots of reasons why we want to be open and honest. We like you to see our hard work, understand how our products are made and why it’s so important to care about the way things are done and how people are treated. We also really dislike how this industry focuses on designers and all the visible people at the top of companies while ignoring everyone else. When people write about our company they mainly focus on us (Katy and Saeed) and we aren’t comfortable with that – so we are taking control of the narrative.
We also like to lift the veil because the media’s filtered lens has really warped people’s perceptions. We were once with some visitors at the dye-house who were eager to take photos and videos of all the very pretty parts of the process (of which there are many) for their social media. When they were invited into the sewing room they said they weren’t going to take any photos there because “we know it’s not, but people might think it looks like a sweatshop” – something we found quite upsetting. We know what sweatshops are like, and we are certain there’s not even a passing resemblance, but we also understand that racism is deeply rooted in people’s minds, whether they realise or not. India + dark skin + sewing machines + fans = sweatshop to many without exception – even when what they’re looking at are highly skilled, well-paid artisans, working in an environment they choose.
With these goals in mind, we decided to film this and other ongoing projects without any narration by us. Hopefully, it feels like you’re watching over our shoulder as we visit our production partners, artisans and workspaces. This first film is something of a pilot, and it was all filmed by Glenn Larkby on a visit to the dye-house in December 2019. We’ve added some descriptions of what’s going on in the subtitle track – turn them on to find out a little more info.
I visited India with friends Glenn and Dan Pacitti to check in and work through the samples for AW20 which we presented to stockists shortly after. We visited The Colours Of Nature, the wonderful natural dye-house and atelier that we have worked with since Day 1 of Story Mfg. We have grown and come up together – it might be cliched but it really has been such an amazing journey with them and seeing them grow from just a handful of people to big teams of embroiderers, tailors and dyers as our business also expands has been one of the most rewarding parts of the Story Mfg. journey.
Here you’ll see and hear various things happening over the course of a few days – including a tea break where one of the ladies had a go on Dan’s hair. To say they were infatuated with Dan and his hair would be an understatement – once they heard he had Indian heritage I think for the first time in my life I heard an audible ‘swoooon’.
Glenn captured all the footage and sounds of The Colours Of Nature, and then it was edited locally in Brighton by Unfolding Films. We hope you like it and we dearly hope to make more.