Coffee & Conversation – David Rix of Flying Horse Indigo Goods
I’ve know David Rix for a couple of years now, ever since discovering about his brand Flying Horse Indigo Goods. We hit it off talking about denim and nomadic tendencies as I was very much getting into denim while in the formulative days of The Nomadic Gentleman. David has a a breadth of experience after working at Ralph Lauren as well as doing textile research and development while also specialising in denim treatment. In between his recent trips to Asia I sat down with him to talk more on Flying Horse that recently went through a rebranding from Flying Horse Jeans, to Flying Horse Indigo Goods. We chatted about denim and indigo as well as why we both love denim so much.
So why did you decide to change the name to Indigo Goods?
As we are an indigo textile brand we thought the name Flying Horse Jeans did not portray the variety of indigo products we do. Aside from the jeans, much of our time is spent in developing the fabrics and patterns as well as working on the tops. Of course we also make jeans but as this is not our only focus we thought the name change would help our customers understand this better.
What is it about Soho that made you choose it as a location for Flying Horse?
All the pubs and variety of inspiration!
You have a background with the likes of Ralph Lauren – What brought you to decision to venture on your own brand and tell us how that came about?
I have always been totally obsessed with denim and textiles. During my MA I worked with Limonta on coating and ageing denim fabrics, then on graduating took a job in the States working as designer at Ralph Lauren designing outerwear and again developing fabrics, this time with Gore (owners of Gore-tex). At RL I learnt, aside from many other things, that a brand needs to be aspirational and tell a story. Many of the denim brands that I had worked with since had been interested in the history of jeans and replicating styles and vintage washes. Although this was interesting what particularly interested me was indigo dye and textiles process and history. After 20 years working for other brands who all seemed to have the similar focus, I thought to make a clothing brand withÂ my combined interests in textiles, indigo and “story” (lifestyle) brands.
The brand has nomadic spirit and atmosphere about it, what sort of journey or adventure do you wish to embark on with your customers.
Escapism. Away from the British rain to a hot and exotic part of the world – I have always found South East Asia particularly inspiring.
What stands FH out from other denim brands?
I would like to think what stands us apart is that we have access to be fully vertical. This means we start designing from the yarn and spinning stage right through to garment and finish…so we like to think of ourselves as a textile and clothing brand. Just like a photographer can change the look of a photo at any stage in the process , so we are involved in every stage of the creation of a Flying Horse product and think all stages (not just stages from garment design onwards) are equally critical in making a beautiful and stylish product.
Tell us a little how the fabric is made as well as the construction of the garments? Do you produce your own denim?
Yes through our partners we produce our own denim… We also produce our own yarn, which we spin from raw cotton or hemp bales which needed to be de-seeded, combed, carded and then cheesed. Once spun, we bundle the yarns together into ropes and then dye in a variety of shades of blue; Japanese style. We prefer this method of dyeing as it dyes the outside of the yarn whilst leaving the core untouched. This gives a more beautiful wash down effect.
In terms of yarn we are buying more hemp nowadays. This is an amazing fibre used for good use since Egyptian times which has sadly been stigmatised in recent years due to its associations.
After dyeing we weave. This is done on shuttle looms. Shuttle looms are considered a superior way to weave denim as they weave slower than more modern power looms and imbue subtle uneven character to the fabric. After weaving there are often modern finishing processes most notably sanforizing and singeing. Sanforizing stabilises the fabric. It was invented back in the 1950s. Before this date you will see your old 501 levis with side seams skewed to the front. Singeing burns the hair off the surface of the fabric for a clean finish (our off-the-loom jean has this processed removed for a premium aged look).
Once the fabric has been made we cut and sew into our own garments and then finish with special laundry techniques. These are divided between wet and dry processes – those involving water and those which do not. As we intend to move towards being a more sustainable brand we try to use as many dry finishing processes as possible and avoid over use of water.
What are the characteristics in denim and indigo that inspire you?
In a word… Ageing.
Ageing in all forms is quite beautiful as it tells a story. An old face with lines and wrinkles is more interesting… antique furniture with marks or stains is more beautiful than new flat and featureless furniture, old paintings, weathered walls, anything old has a history, holds memories and tells a story.
Denim and indigo have wonderful ageing qualities about them that allows their story to be told or replicated.