The Positive Product Manifesto
STORY mfg. was born out of a desire for a more authentic, fulfilling and kind approach to fashion — one that doesn’t involve a trade-off between aesthetics and consciousness. We are a husband and wife team and work with a large group of dyers, weavers, embroiderers and tailors.
We want to make things and choices that help change the fashion industry for the better and show that being considerate and kind (to people and the planet) is not only important but an enormous strength. We believe fashion can be a form of social activism and that STORY mfg. can help create a more positive future .
Our manifesto has been the cornerstone of our practice, but it’s open to adaptation as more opportunities to create positive interactions arise.
Patron of the arts
In the past, the great luxury fashion houses would be ambassadors of craft – often keeping niche artisan practices alive. Art and craft are not only beautiful but crucial and important culturally for so many left behind in an ever faster and more automated economy. We aim to bridge the gap between these worlds and both promote artistic practices and foster new ones in places where people have been marginalised.
Waste is lazy
There is no ‘waste’ in nature. A seed grows into a plant with energy from the sun, lives, dies and turns into life-giving soil for everything else. This approach of not only ‘zero impact’ but ‘positive impact’ is our ultimate goal.
We collect our natural fibre offcuts from production and re use them for lining, stuffing or other items. If they’re too small to be used in that way they are driven down the road and turned into paper which we use to make hangtags and packaging.
While we use very little synthetic materials, what we do use is recycled or easily remove-able and widely recycle-able and we use no single-use plastics anywhere.
We never, ever, use animal products because we don’t feel there is anything sustainable or positive in raising and slaughtering other creatures. Our stand on kindness extends to our makers and customers too – we ensure that our materials and garments do not carry horrid toxic chemicals that could be harmful to work with or wear. Everything we do is vegan and completely cruelty-free.
Our greater goal is to help reverse the damage done by industry and enter into practices that leave the planet better off after our work is done. Our natural indigo sourcing comes from an effort to fix nitrogen levels in over-tilled and farmed soil, and our dyeing takes place in a re-planted forest where all our waste is used to fertilise the gardens.
Our work is heavily craft-based and involves both teaching and learning new techniques together with our craftspeople. We are invested in giving continuous, well-paid work and do not switch for cheaper alternatives.
The Fashion industry is one of the most powerful oppressors. If it were a government, we would call it the cruelest regime on the planet for the way it upholds racist practices, disenfranchises, economically enslaves and perpetuates racist stereotypes. The industry relies on the hard work, culture, history, passion and resources of people it chooses not to represent – often perpetuating a disgusting measure of value to customers based on race. We will continue to champion those we work with, and challenge at every turn racist attitudes. We will be inclusive in our hiring practices, partnerships, collaborations, media and use our influence to fight systemic xenophobia, racism and discrimination.
Clothing is skincare
If the chemicals in clothing were packaged into a cream you’d never let it anywhere near your skin – so why do we ignore it when it’s in the things we wear? Our approach to fabric and dyes is to use only ingredients that are non toxic and skin kind. The vast majority of our dyes and materials are made from natural elements used throughout history (although it’s important to remember that some people are allergic to things found in nature like peanuts, soy, etc.)
Built to last
We build products to last because the most sustainable way to live is to buy less. Our construction methods are transplanted from vintage workwear and military making our goods durable and strong for their lifetime.
Synthetics are not our enemy
Synthetics have been vilified as enemy number 1. in the fight for a nicer future but it feels as if this is a bit of a distraction from more nuanced issues. Synthetics in the right application and with thoughtful design are sometimes a better choice of material. Single use plastic bags are obviously idiotic and short sighted, but we think recycling and mindful design with synthetic materials is important.
Pragmatic by nature
Story mfg. is constantly adapting to new discoveries and our manifesto is a living document. We are careful not to get stuck in an ideology if new, better, kinder, production options arise.
We use natural, organic and skin kind materials to make our stuff.
Natural Indigo (Indigofera Tinctoria)
Dye colour: blue tones
Indigo is one of the world’s oldest dyes, with evidence of its use stretching back at least 6,000 years ago in South America and through the ages in Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt and India where it was used and exported through the silk road.
Myrobalan (Terminalia chebula)
Dye colours: yellow (works in conjuction with others to make greens, black and grey)
This grows wild across India but is found in abundance at the foothills of the Himalayas.The myrobalan plant is like the swiss army knife of natural dyes.
Babul Bark (Vachellia Nilotica)
Dye colour: brown tones
Babul bark is a flowering plant tree in the family Fabaceae. It is native to Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. It is also a Weed of National Significance in Australia as well as a Federal Noxious Weed in the United States.
Madder (Rubia Cordifolia)
Dye colour: red tones, orange, peach
Rubia Cordifolia is a flowering plant in the same family as coffee. The source of the colour is a compound called alizarin, and the plant has been cultivated for dye since antiquity in Asia and the Middle East. In more recent Western history, 17th Century English soldiers dressed in uniforms dyed with madder, giving them the name ‘The Redcoats’
Butterfly Pea (Clitoria Ternatea)
Dye colour: blue tones, grey
Butterfly pea is a beautiful little flower with a history of use in food, medicine, and much more recently textile.
Vembadam (Ventilago Maderaspatana)
Dye colour: purple
Finding this dyeplant was something of a reminder of natures sense of humour. We haven’t been able to make purple since the start of Story in 2013 because the only natural dye we were able to get that produces purple is lac, which is a byproduct of insects (its actually from a plant, but it involved bugs… its complicated).
Jackfruit (Artocarpus Heterophyllus)
Dye colour: yellow
Jackfruit as a dye is a real case of ancient technology research. Although the fruit is still widely eaten – its use as a dye had all but disappeared.
Sappan Wood (Biancaea Sappan)
Dye Colour: bright pinks
Also known as Indian Redwood, this plant is an absolute powerhouse of colour and produces an almost chemical-leak level of bright pinky-violet that we love.
Knitting may seem quaint now, but for much of human history it has been a necessity and powerful piece of ancient technology.
Hand embroidery is one of our all-time favourite design details because it’s always beautiful and interesting at every skill level.
Crochet in many ways has very simple requirements – just a yarn and a hook. Because of this, its a skill easily picked up but can take hours of dedication to master.
We use a lot of hand-woven fabrics – always woven especially for us by lovely people who choose weaving as a vocation.
There are many types of block printing, often characterised by the area and heritage of the craftsperson.