Natasha has travelled to many parts of the world and has lived in the USA, the Middle East, and Africa. Her Mum is a fine artist and textile designer who inspired her creative side. The family lived quite a bohemian life abroad, exploring the deserts, wadis and coastline in the countries they lived in.Years later, after completing her degree in Fashion & Textile design at GLOSCAT and working for a short time with The New Renaissance in London, a thirst for travel and adventure led Natasha to live and work abroad. She was based in the Middle East again, working as cabin crew and also in hospitality, travelling worldwide.
She returned to the U.K. in 1999 and set up a soft furnishing business. It developed organically into an interior design company; ‘Natasha Grays Interiors’, based in London. During the next few years, she met her husband Doug. They married, moved house and had their two daughters. When the family moved to the dynamic, bustling entrepôt of Hong Kong in 2011, she took the opportunity to grow the business, taking on projects for an array of international expatriate clients.
In her spare time, frustrated with not being able to find 1970s style clothes suitable for Hong Kong’s mostly humid climate, she began designing clothes again, having them made up by tailors using beautiful imported fabrics. This hobby re-ignited her original passion for fashion design.
Doug comes from a family used to the business of fashion. During the 1960s and 1970s his parents set up menswear shops in London. ‘Chelsea Male’ in the Kings Road was the first shop and In 1972, his father Gerald Grays went on to open one of the first denim only retail chains; ‘Denim City’.
They were one of the first companies to import washed denim jeans that become popular during that time. Doug spent many of his childhood years during the school holidays helping out in the Kings Road shop where Chelsea football stars, among other celebs came to buy their jeans.
He started his career working as a stockbroker in the city. In 1994 he set up his own business, building ‘Dukes of London’ into one of the largest promotional merchandise and apparel companies in the UK. They opened offices in London, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
He sold the business in 2015 but during those years, he helped develop clothing ranges for many large brands including Bacardi, Diageo, BMW and McLaren.
Returning to the U.K. and their contrasting fashion roots, Natasha and Doug joined forces and their different skill sets to launch Graysey; a premium womenswear brand inspired by 1970s fashion, reinvented using beautiful fabrics, great fit and design details to be relevant now.
The Story Of Graysey (Pronounced like Crazy but with a "G")
As a child and young woman, I had always admired women who looked effortlessly cool and put together, who seemed happy in their own skin and had obviously come to realise their own style. I loved the glamour of the 1970s, memorable for the tribe of impossibly eminent style icons that dazzled in that era. A few that come to mind:, Bianca Jagger, Bridget Bardot, Cher and Debbie Harry. These super cool limelight thieves were matched, in a contrasting way by the laid back 1970s posse: Ali McGraw, Diane Keaton, Lauren Hutton and Jane Birkin and their uber cultured contemporaries, more likely to be spotted having brunch at ‘Le Cirque’ than partying at Studio 54.
Together, with my husband and partner, we decided to create a luxe brand that embodied that essence of fabulousness. For years I had trawled the high street, searching for 1970s style garb to add to my wardrobe. I found slim pickings. Pieces I bought in high street stores were mostly man-made, non-breathable fabric and often didn’t come close to the great fit I look for. I designed and had clothes made but it was hard to fit this in with my career. Originals chanced upon in charity and vintage shops had seen better days. The sizes were almost always too big, the fabrics weren’t breathable and the colours and textile prints were a bit too ‘far out’ for me.
A lot of time and effort had been spent searching for and altering those 1970s style clothes over the years. I yearned for a one stop shop that was purely focused on making 1970s style clothes that were well cut in breathable fabrics. From talking to other friends and seeing pieces appearing in the big fashion house shows year in year out and in the pages of Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar magazine, I knew there must be a gap in the market for covetable wardrobe staples inspired by the 1970s style ‘It girl’ for clothes that are a combination of stylish, practical and glam for the busy lives they lead.
The Graysey Logo
The logo I designed came from the desire to connect the four of us in our immediate Grays family and create a logo that symbolised our brand ethos. Our daughters have been on this journey through life with us and I wanted to offer them the opportunity if they wish to be involved with the brand in the future.
I designed the 4G’s to link up together, connecting us as a family and resembling the shape of a flower as a nod to the era of 1970s flower power.
I wanted our logo to portray a sense of fun but also give a strong sense of quality, classic style and longevity. Something that would help bring the message of ‘Women for Women International’, our dedicated charity that we support.
The Story Of Jeaks™
The idea for Jeaks™ (our main launch line of denim designs and ‘hero product’) stemmed from my personal challenge choosing an outfit to wear to travel in that is stylish but also really comfortable. I thought that if I have this problem, other women probably struggle with this. Jeans are a staple for me but I felt that they could be improved. This was my personal brief: They must flatter your legs and even make them appear slimmer. They had to make your derriere appear pert and look great. They had to be the most comfortable jeans ever and most importantly, resolve the issue of hard seams in the crotch area!
There haven’t been any major changes in how jeans are designed over the years apart from jeggings. I wanted to somehow take jeans to another level of evolvement. Jeaks™ would allow women to stand out from the sea of blue in a crowd with an added feature of having stretch panels incorporated into the jeans all around the inner leg seams. Eradicating denim in that area would create softer seams where you need them. It would also add a flash of colour or textile print to give a design edge. The panels also contour the leg.
Jeaks™ are comfortable enough to allow the Graysey woman to wear about town, on a night out or on a long haul flight. They are so comfortable, you can even sleep in them! I wanted them to be cool, versatile and adaptable, like the woman who wears them.
A nonchalant relaxed blouse seemed the natural choice to add to our first items to launch with...made to be worn tucked in or worn belted outside the Jeaks™ tunic style. To follow, there will be other pieces that embody that casual elegance with a nod to the 70s and the glamour and class of the period.