Alison Taylor started sula in 1997, from a stall in Old Spitalfields Market in the east end of London. Now with a team of just three, she has grown the business to be stocked in some of the best stores in the world, in the USA, Japan, Europe and Australia. Coming from a fine art background, Alison has a painterly approach to colour, every season sula creates new colour palettes for the collection.
…..Alison has travelled the world in search of communities who hand-weave, dye and embellish textiles. She cherishes the irregularity of hand-woven cloth and stitching and the poignant beauty of fabrics that develop patina over time.
Sula presents two collections each year. These combine new designs, alongside items that her clients order repeatedly in different colour hues and textiles.
Sula garment production is undertaken by small family run businesses in Vietnam and India. Garments can take one person more than a day to make. The detail and quality are not only important to sula but also to the maker. Many of the details and finishes are made by hand, creating a lived in already loved looking garment that sula customers have come to appreciate. Hand worked button holes and old fashioned hand stitched facings provide further character to a label that is already distinctive. Close working relationships are established with craftspeople, and ethical practices are ensured.
Sula has commissioned Vietnamese silks for more than 20 years. Fine organza’s, habotais and satin weaves are hand woven in domestic spaces supplementing agricultural incomes in the rural areas. Sula is committed to supporting these craft practices. sula makes all of their cotton garments from Indian Khadi, the most refined of cottons, that is hand spun as well as hand woven, giving it a unique handle and drape. Khadi production was promoted by Mahatma Gandhi as a symbol of anti colonialism in the 1920s.
Recently sula has added several fine japanese fabrics to both spring and autumn collections. Double cloth jerseys are soft and warm, trapping warm air between the layers and so making soft winter tees and dresses.
Japanese washi cloth is traditionally woven using a mix of cotton and paper creating a crushed and characterful look. Washi is recognised by UNESCO as having intangible cultural heritage. Sula has made it their own, by bonding to silk linings and using the frayed edges to enhance the rawness of the cloth.