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In Conversation with Larry Paul of GREI.

By Tom Ran

Published: July 31, 2013 under Fashion & Style

Market Bag made of cotton canvas and vegetable dyed leather straps.

Photo: GREI.

Market Bag made of cotton canvas and vegetable dyed leather straps.

Detail of GREI's Patchwork Indigo Bandana

Photo: GREI.

Detail of GREI's Patchwork Indigo Bandana

Left: Indigo Bandana; Right:Carry-All Bag made of cotton canvas and vegetable dyed leather straps.

Photo: GREI.

Left: Indigo Bandana; Right:Carry-All Bag made of cotton canvas and vegetable dyed leather straps.

Indigo dyed chambray bandanas

Photo: GREI.

Indigo dyed chambray bandanas

Y Block Bandana in Midnight

Photo: GREI.

Y Block Bandana in Midnight

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The flat tonality of the color grey may be banal to some but its neutrality can be incredibly versatile and adaptable. This is its strength and symbolic for a company to name an accessories brand after. For Larry Paul and Andrew Spargo the partners behind GREI., its beauty is in its understatement. Their attachment to the color lies in its soothing neutrality. With a high regard to production and quality they’ve injected energy into an otherwise overlooked pigment. Two years into the line, GREI. has grown from season to season. It continues to focus on its core products of scarves, pocket squares, and bandanas but have expanded its offering to bags, ponchos, and even a line of shirts with Unionmade. We spent a moment with Larry Paul to discuss the evolution of the brand and insight into their indigo dying technique.

The Scout: GREI. began as a side project, at what point did you feel confident enough to turn it into a proper label?
Larry Paul: To be blunt, the confidence grew from friends asking us if they could place orders for their stores. Our initial retail partners were Unionmade, Odin New York and Steven Alan. All three were incredibly supportive and gave us really helpful feedback. As reorders started coming in it was clear that GREI. had great potential.

The Scout: How does GREI. stand apart from other accessories brands that have pocket squares and scarves of their own?
Larry Paul: We approach each season as a full collection, much like apparel fashion designers. We have basics that can be expected but there’s always a lot of limited life product as well. Additionally, most of the hand work and indigo dying we do ourselves internally. A more artisanal approach is important to us.

The Scout: Can you tell us more about your indigo dying process?
Larry Paul: We hand dye in small batches using 100% natural indigo. The key to indigo is embracing the surprises during the dying process. Sometimes it has a life of it’s own and can be super frustrating if you don’t have patience. Andrew is the calmest person I know so his meditative nature helps to keep me cool when things aren’t going as intended.

Many of our designs have a linear style so it can be a little tricky, especially when dying less forgiving fabrics like white oxford shirting. The liquid tends to crawl so we have developed our own techniques to help trap the color in designated areas. It’s all about a steady hand, maintaining the temperature of the bath and the right formula to achieve the desired shade of blue. Similar to throwing ceramic pottery or pouring handmade candles, the technology has changed very little over the years. But our dipping techniques continue to evolve each season.

The Scout: You’re gradually adding more to the line. This season, you included bags and shirts with Unionmade, is this something we’ll see more of in the future?
Larry Paul: Definitely. The brand is growing organically based on demand and what excites us. Accessories will remain the core but you can count on growth in other categories to come. Surprisingly this spring/summer our bestselling pieces were bags and indigo ponchos. Our upcoming fall/winter collection includes more in these categories as well as horse hair key chains and a ton of cashmere knits.

The Scout: Is it safe to say that blue is a favorite of GREI’s as well?
Larry Paul: Andrew and I wear so much blue we’ve been accused of being each other’s doppelganger. When you’re indigo dying an old beaten up piece can be your new favorite after throwing it in the bath. We now both own just about every shade of indigo blue possible.

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