Humphries and Begg
The story -
Humphries and Begg was started in 2010 by wife and husband duo Alice Begg and Robbie Humphries just three months after meeting. Their names together Humphries and Begg had a certain ring to it, like it had been around forever. That was the easy bit.
Alice studied fashion at Middlesex University, London after a foundation at Falmouth, Cornwall. At the time of meeting she was working for the fabric shop, The Cloth Shop on Portobello road whilst getting her own creative practice off the ground. Robbie is first and foremost a musician and never imagined his name would be on a fashion label, You can find him as one half of The Cash Cows and new band The Many Coated.
They met at the festival The Secret Garden Party, Alice was decorating the stage that Robbie played on. It was as they say love at first site! They travelled to India three months later with bags full of fabrics and patterns and came back and founded H&B. They began in 2010 with made to measure suits and indian block printed mens shirts. Their first bit of press the following year with a shirt in The Times supplement meant they sealed themselves a loyal list of customers.
For the next 6 years H&B was very much a side project whilst Alice worked on her brand at the time Syndicut, creating printed swimwear and accessories. Whilst working various creative jobs in London. They got married in 2013 and moved to Hackney, East London.
At the end of 2016 her and her partner of Syndicut decided to call it a day, hard to let go of her baby, she always new one day it would be time to put all her energy into Humphries and Begg.
The playsuit was born in 2016 and that summer it was brilliantly received on the festival circuit. This gave her the push of confidence to really channel everything in to Humphries and Begg.
That Winter she planned a three month trip to Australia. Before she went, she sent some new designs to Abhay her production manager in Jaipur and had the samples sent to meet her in Australia. This was where she did her first photoshoot, shot and styled by herself in her cousin's house. She put an email together sitting in the public library in Brisbane, using their wifi and launched their first pre-order.
Customers ordered that January to receive pieces in the summer, three months later and it worked. She was amazed people were happy to order and invest in the new clothing. The pre-order has stuck and still now before each collection they run their pre-order. It has always been a brilliant way of judging the collection. Items that don't get ordered are cut out and it means there is never any waste.
It also gives them the funds to put towards their production. They can proudly say they have run the business from day one without any loans. It has all been funded through pre selling.
Since their rebirth in 2017 they are now on their 5th year and 9th collection.
The Design Process -
Alice designs all the prints in house, combining loose mark making with bold colour combinations. These all begin sitting at the kitchen table, watercolours and paintbrush in hand. Inspired by a colour palette seen in day to day life. She then turns these patterns into repeats on the computer and they then get sent to Abhay in Jaipur who turns them into their fabrics.
Most importantly the team.
At the helm is Alice navigating the ship as Robbie likes to say.
She designs all the prints and collections and works closely with the makers in India. She also overseas all the goings on in the studio with the orders going out and website admin and general goings on with a small brand. She also mans the Instagram.
Robbie is fund manager, and everything gets run by him. He looks after Honey in the day to day and will start playing music again soon. But for the business he is half the spirit of H&B
Claire Cartwright joined H&B two months before Honey arrived in August 2019 and is Alice's creative assistant. She does a lot of the photography, runs the website and creates the mail outs, a bit of everything. She herself is a print designer and has her own brand Claire Cartwright Studio. She also now creates the lamp shade range in collaboration with the brand. She has worked for Cressida Bell and Emma Bridgewater.
Hannah Speller joined the team in 2020, Lockdown meant she stayed in Stroud rather than heading back to London. Lucky for Humphries and Begg! She now runs the studio, sends out your orders, and is the new PR queen. Hannah has worked for Damien Hirst and David Bailey.
Mum and Dad, Alice's parents ran all the pack and despatch from 2018 to early 2020 from their house in Somerset this enabled Alice and Robbie to deal with the day to day running of the business and was instrumental to the success of the brand in those early years.
The shop team -
Olivia is a yoga teacher and doula. She's full of energy and loves the clothes, she'll give you a warm greeting when you come and visit.
Hatty Bell works for us from time to time, she is a brilliant film maker.
Frankie Fry our 17 year old next door neighbour is here on a Saturday
The Production Team
Alice and Robbie met Atal Abhay's father on their second trip to India together in 2012. This was when Alice still had her brand Syndicut and he worked on pieces for them. Abhay came back from university and took over the family business. They are a small family run print and production house within the old city walls of Jaipur, Northern India. Abhay's grandfather started the business 40 years ago. They have a team of about 80 that include, tailors, seamstresses, block printers and screen printers and a little room of ladies working on embellishment. Many of their team have been there since Abhay was a boy, it is clean and safe and is a nice environment to work in. Abhay and his family run a good and honest business. We have now worked with him for nearly 10 years.
Alice sends her designs to Abhay and he translates the colours by eye. Abhay generally creates all the bright summery pieces in the collection.
Rakesh runs their second production team, also in Jaipur. He tends to make anything that isn't screen printed. All the latest winter items have been made by him and his team. All the natural dying and digital printing is managed by Rakesh.
Barbara is our new production manager and is now running the printing and making of the homeware fabrics and the rug production. She is from Bulgaria and lives in Jaipur.
Khaloom is a sustainable fabric house in Bangalore southern India. They weave all recycled and organic fabrics. We are using Khaloom more and more for the fabrics for our clothing and soon our homewares.
The Clothes -
Humphries and Begg are renowned for their playsuits. Born in 2016 from a love of bold 70's inspired clothing. Alice created the playsuit and it was loved from day one. She felt it would be amazing to have a beautiful all-in-one suit that was elaborated with amazing prints and colours. Each collection has a small range of playsuits either plain or printed. They have spent years tweaking the shape. It is hard to get it right for everyone. But when they started they had one size fits all and now they have seven sizes in the adult range.
Each season Alice adds in new pieces and brings them back from year to year. Some summer favourites include the long flowing beachy gown, the fitted Lydia dress and the swing trousers. The style of clothing is always very relaxed and comfortable, maintaining a bright and playful colour palette from season to season. The biggest challenge is making pieces work for everyone. The brand prides themselves on their broad demographic of customers. A lot of the clothing is unisex and they go up to a size 24 in most of the range.
Having started predominately with their printed clothing, translating the fun and joyful style that they are known for into the home felt like a natural progression, which was accelerated due to the recent lockdowns and increasing amount of time being spent in the home and their move from London to rural Stroud, Gloucestershire.
The Kids -
In 2019 they had their daughter Honey, she inspired the birth of the H&B kids range and this summer 2021 they are increasing the age range to 12 years old. Using their favourite prints, soft cottons and playful shapes, it felt like a natural progression to take.
After a sleepy first lock down in early 2020, with baby Honey being only 6 months old, a new obsession with their garden and the whole business being run from their garden shed. The Summer collection was 3 months late. Every last piece of clothing had been sold and they new there was a big collection of clothing arriving in July. Where was it all going to go. They heard about this little shop that had been sitting closed for 6 months in their home town Stroud. They went to visit it and over night they had a shop.
The shop has been amazing, it works as a studio from Monday to Thursday and then is open as the shop Thursday to Saturday.
They regularly hold small festivals when they invite other independent brands to join them in the shop for a few weeks at a time. It is full to the brim with colour and pattern and really worth a visit.
Broadway Market -
They have had the stall on Broadway market, Hackney since January 2018. Shared with Mcindoe Design and Zulu London, you can find them out side costcutter. They'll be back there on May 1st 2021 with current and past season stock.