With a name like The Fable, you naturally wonder what the story behind this beautiful shirt brand might be. And when India is involved, there is always a story.
We caught up with the founder Sophie Doyle to unravel it…
Can you tell us how The Fable shirts came about?
In 2014 I left my corporate job and loaded my life in a car boot. I then travelled to India and spent time at a yoga ashram in the Himalayas. After leaving the ashram a series of chance encounters lead me to a textile factory in Jaipur. It was here that I saw the possibility for something I felt was missing in the market. The Silk Shirt. Having never been able to find one which combined quality and affordability, I felt the need to make it myself. This was the beginning of The Fable.
What does the name mean to you?
In establishing the brand I wanted to share the provenance of production. Everything is done by hand, from button dye to polka dot print. Tools and artisans bring the product to life with real people and small businesses serving as beneficiaries. I felt it was important to share and celebrate this process as so often we buy clothes with no idea where they have come from or who has made them.
What were you doing before The Fable and how has that prepared you to launch out on your own?
Prior to launching The Fable I spent four years working at L’Oreal Luxury where I marketed Giorgio Armani and Yves Saint Laurent. Working on these brands was where I learnt the importance of attention to detail and excellence in execution. In establishing The Fable, I felt adamant that such traits embodied in luxury brands must be present in my own. While the beauty and fashion industry are of course different, such core principles are ultimately the same, just require reapplying.
What were some of the challenges you had to overcome with producing in India?
The main challenges came from my own lack of cultural knowledge from outset. This meant that everything needed to be learnt first-hand.
Religious holidays and weather play a major role in Indian working life. Monsoon season and the many Hindi festivals can cease work for days if not weeks. I needed to allow for this in the production process, though it’s not always easy to plan for!
Additionally, the Indian communication approach is different to what we’re used to in the West. They are typically less direct and forthcoming. From a foreigner’s perspective, learning to read and gauge conversations can serve as a good tool where facts and clarity may be absent.
What have been the surprising joys along the way?
The most wonderful part has been the experience of living in India – I have spent three months up there this year. On one trip I stayed with the family who run my factory and had a taste of what daily life is like. Breakfast curries, fetching milk from the local cow and motorbike riding through the spice markets – the surprising and unexpected joys of life in India.
Do you have any particular style influences?
I believe largely in the idea of creating your own style, not allowing it to be dictated by trends or individuals, and I love the concept of curating a timeless wardrobe which can transcend seasons. Having said that, if I were to pick an individual it would have to be Emmanuelle Alt. For me she’s the ultimate example of classic chic.
What’s next for you and The Fable?
In 2016 The Fable will introduce a short sleeve and sleeveless silk shirt as well as a new range of colours and prints in the existing long sleeve. I’m in the process of collaborating with customers to find out what their preferences are so the brand can best meet them. I would welcome any ideas from the Collective reader!