Two UK indie makers/retailers partner and launch a new store in Hackney. Good news for anyone whose coffee table currently features a bowl of honey and rosemary salted almonds and a pile of Puss Puss back issues. The imprints in question are ethical indigoers Story MFG and obscuro brand purveyors Open As Usual. A pairing complimentary in outlook and ethos, even as their respective portions of the new store appear, aesthetically at least, two sides of an entirely different coin.
Story MFG dominates the main entrance room and a smaller, sunken space at the back. Balancing folksy wolksy leanings with a commitment to move the design conversation forward, the brand offers a pretty rare commodity – products that manage to be both ethically conscious and straight bangers. Oversized shapes dominate, 1940s prison attire is referenced. But the fabrics, the dyes, the embroidery, the wonderful heavy corduroys… there’s no one else doing this right now.
You really need to see the downstairs space. Presented like a tangible social media feed; photos, scribbles, samples, notes, all connected by strings, lead the viewer on some kind of creative narrative. It’s like the home of an obsessive homicide detective, but more clothesy.
The store also offers indigo dying classes. You can bring your own clobber or buy a dye-ready piece and get elbow-deep yourself. Not sure about the name of this service, ‘Hand Job Dye House’. Bit rude for me. I’d have upped the excitement levels myself. Something like, ‘Dye Hard With A Veg Essence’.
Upstairs, we find Open As Usual, a much cleaner, more stripped back environment. If downstairs is for the hand-dyed, embroidered statement piece, upstairs is where to nab the no-fuss chinos, or kiln baked canvas sneakers you’ll need to set it off.
Bad taste doesn’t get a look in at Open As Usual. A near universal palette of navys, greys, white and cream means you can’t go far wrong. Even acutely hungover and boggled on a breakfast ganjaweed, you’d still stumble out with a perfect navy sweatshirt or an extremely neat tote.
Open As Usual’s website is apparently undergoing a little updating, indeed, I noticed a bunch of stuff in-store, which is currently absent from the digital store – most notably Japan’s Auralee and Nanamica. There’s also a bunch of relative obscurities to discover including Doek, Paa, Kiruna and United Athle. The latter offering simple, well cut tees for a mere £15 each. I bought three. And very good they are too.
If you’re in the area, and even if you’re not, I strongly advise a journey to this unique retail venture.