Optimistic, Confident, Artistic are three words that define Jino Mary Joy as a designer. Her love for art and colors began very young. Then, it was all about expressing herself through patterns. Born and raised in Dubai, she is heavily influenced by art and fashion. Jino truly believes that organic fabrics is the way forward and sustainable fashion will flourish in the years to come. She also believes in the power of Modest fashion, and strives to create every piece for the Modest crowd.Having worked with fashion brands such as Vero Moda, Only and Woolmark, as well as fashion publications including Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, the 27-year old designer brings her experience and unique ‘minimalistic’ aesthetic to fashion label Stone Grey.

Launched in Dubai, Stone Grey is a minimalist and slow fashion brand that focuses all it’s time on quality and design. The brand focuses to incorporate details that add the perfect amount of personality to each product. The brand offers timeless staples in modern cuts that can be worn in many ways and to suit many lifestyles. Each piece at Stone Grey is contemporary, fresh and created for the modern woman.

City Pages Magazine: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Jino Mary Joy: Jino Mary Joy is the 27 year old Designer and Founder of Stone Grey. Born and raised in Dubai she has always surrounded herself with the best of art, music and culture (she explains in theird person).
I’m a true believer of the power of positivity. Being a minimalist at heart, I have tried to fully weave the concept into my brand as well. Romantizing and promoting the idea of less is enough, I create for the need and not for the calender.

CPM: What inspired you to become a fashion designer? Did you always know what you wanted to do?
JMJ: Being an artist at heart I’ve constantly been attached to colours, patterns and textures. As a child it was always a dream to become an artist, painting on the largest canvas. I truly admire abstractism and all the artists that have contributed to the movement. Before immersing myself into the fashion industry, I did have a strong pull toward interior designing.

I designed my very first collection in high school. Knowing I had a mentor who saw a designer in me before I realized that for myself was reassuring and motivating. However, I picked my education in Media and whilst working as a Junior Fashion Assistant Intern at Harpers Bazaar Arabia, I realized I loved fashion and immediately pursued it.

CPM: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
JMJ: Be patient and believe in the intention you’ve set out to achieve, trust in the process and the talent you know you have. I have always been my worst critic, knowing I could have done better everytime. That eventually turned me into a perfectionist and a workaholic. If I need something done perfectly I need to do it myself and if that took me 24 hours to get done, I’d spend that in a heartbeat. It has taken me a lot of retrospecting to realize that its okay to not do the best or be the best all the time.

CPM: What is the ethos of Stone Grey?
JMJ: The Brand is built on creating timeless fashion, designs that are not trend based and that are of high quality to withstand a long time. We also promote minimalist, not in design aspect alone, but also on how quality trumps quantity. We create fahion following our own rules.

CPM: Define sustainable concept nowadays in the fashion industry in five words.
JMJ: Buy few that lasts long.

CPM: How does the sustainable aspect of your brand work?
JMJ: We at Stone Grey, believe sustainabilty starts from within the four walls of a working studio. At the brand’s headquarters we truly strive to reduce and reuse paper, for instance, we use recycled paper patterns for all our designs, we produce all our sales proofs as e-reciepts. Packaging was an important challenge for us. In the age of social meia where the art of a Brand and its products lie in the way it’s packaged, it was hard to créate a packaging that would be reusable, sustainable and still appealing for the gram. Our packaging is made of a Cotton cloth bag with drawstrings, which can be washed and reused. Another aspect of being sustaible is creating quality products. We emphasize on the quality of tailoring and we ensure that it guides in the durability of each product.

CPM: Where do you look for creative inspiration?
JMJ: Every collection to date was designed keeping a particular personality in mind. People are my inspiration. Their unique dressing styles in what draws me to créate something new that I know would personify that particular personality. Its a very subjective visión into each design and not everyone would understand what I see in the design and how I connect the two. Most of my collection are names of real people or TV characters that have made a personal impact on me and each design is my take on that person.

“I’m a true believer of the power of positivity. Being a minimalist at heart, I have tried to fully weave the concept into my brand as well. Romantizing and promoting the idea of less is enough, I create for the need and not for the calender”

CPM: Is it hard to stay innovative?
JMJ: It’s perhaps easier to be innovative. What’s harder is creating a design that I must be able to envision being worn 10 years and beyond from the date of designing but still creative with a tad bit of desired personality.

CPM: What type of research did you conduct for the women’s collection?
JMJ: The research we conduct before creating any collection is looking for innovative tailoring skills, a new technique to finish a garment or a method that helps créate a higher quality and to increase durability. We are always on the lookout for creative tailoring. In terms of design research we usually look back into what women wore in the past and we look into new ways to redeisgn it for the present by adding our aesthetic signature.

CPM: What materials, fabrics and colours did you use in the new collection?
JMJ: The fabrics we use are mostly Polyester. We often get asked why we use synthetic fabrics being a sustainable Brand and its true, we are striving toward finding the perfect fabric and its a constant struggle. We aren’t a 100% a sustainable Brand and the fabrics we use are a part of our Brand that we are working on. But with client requirements from fabrics we understand the qualities required from a fabric is achievable from a polyester fabric than a natural fiber fabric.
We work on solid colored fabrics. Every collection we try to tackle a new color family. Prints are harder to decide on, as we stick to classic prints like stripes, polka dots and plaid. We do have a new collection in the works for a future date, for which we would be creating a collection in different hues of nude browns and greens.

CPM: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
JMJ: Natural. I would want them to feel like it’s basic instinct. It shouldn’t be stressful or hard to decide what to pick in the morning, instead it should feel basic, easy and comfortable, almost instinctual.

CPM: How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal?
JMJ: I’m not going to lie, this is hard. When the world goes in for pineapple printed dresses and you create something “basic” in comparison, you are often flooded with comments like “this is so basic” or “Do you have this in the new print that everone is wearing”. Sometimes it takes a lot of un-learning and relearning to fully relate to the vision of the Brand.

CPM: Your face masks have been worn by many prominent influencers in the region including Joelle Mardinian, Rania Fawaz or Reosemin Manji. Tell us more about the range.
JMJ: Face Masks was a product line designed for the need of the hour. The first initial several pieces were made off of leftover fabrics from the studio before the demand exceeded the available fabrics. It was created as a solution to a lot of skin reactions from surgical masks and it also worked as a great substitute during its shortage. We do still créate masks for men, women and children and we realize how it is now more important than ever to have a good substitute to the one time use of surgical masks. The masks are created of 3 layers with a non woven mid layer that acts as the filter, the masks also come with adjustable elastic straps to adjust to the desired fit. Personalization with embroidery was introduced to be able to distinguish masks within a family and to add a personal touch to the productline.

CPM: What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
JMJ: It plays the biggest role. The reach of social media increases by the minute. Social Media plays on the basic advertising rule of ‘when you see something enough number of times you’d be convinced to want it’. Through Social Media you can target your audience to get them to see what you’re selling enough number of times to spark a curiosity.

CPM: Where do you see Stone Grey going in the future?
JMJ: I see Stone Grey getting into production on a larger scale in the future. We have been slowly helping other designers establish their brands within the región and it’s an extremely fullfilling experience and I would love to do more of it.

CPM: Your message for us at CP magazine Kuwait.
JMJ: Stay positive and be happy. Choose happiness over everything and everyone else, no matter what that is for you.

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