We cannot properly usher in spring without checking in to see what hometown gal Natalie “Alabama” Chanin has cooking down in Florence, Alabama. We love that the former star of Project Alabama has returned to her old haunts to set up a ‘sustainable’ design studio, manufacturing facilities, and a soon to open flagship store. Alabama Chanin‘s home-brewed, limited-edition products for the individual and the home incorporate a mixture of new, organic and recycled materials crafted by artisans who live and work in the local community. Thanks to Chanin, “made-by-hand in the USA” is undergoing a true renaissance and her Slow Design creations have set a captivating tempo and high standard for eco-fashion collectibles.
Alabama Chanin‘s recent ‘Organic Series’ features hand-stitched, custom-tailored garments and tees made from 100% Certified Organic Cotton fabrics. The soothingly fresh palette of these pieces – subdued hues of cream, alongside jacquard knits of cream, brown and green, is a result of using materials direct from nature. Alabama Chanin also uses organic processes like staining fabric with tea and discarded coffee grinds and as well as low-impact dyes for hints of color. Chanin proudly states, “This is, by far, the most luxurious fabric we have found to date. It’s incredibly soft, durable and the addition of jacquard knit adds a textured dimension. Like everything we create, this series is rendered by hand and signed by the artisan who sewed every stitch.”
Natalie Chanin’s short documentary film, Stitch, a journey through rural America told by those who made and used quilts, was perhaps a big part of the inspiration for her decision to slow her pace and examine the use of eco-friendly materials in small town communities. The designer is not only committed to using organic cotton and non-toxic processes, but she consistently enlists local artisans to use sustainable materials in order to “bring a contemporary context to age-old techniques”. The result is a new spin on (re)greening and preserving indigenous craft traditions (“living arts”) as a means to develop continuity between generations, communities, and sustainable, local business practice. It’s an eco-renaissance that we think is respectfully nostalgic and naturally future-forward.
+ Alabama Chanin Collections + Alabama Studio Style Blog + Alabama Stitch Book + ‘The Slow Life Picks Up Speed’, New York Times article, January 31, 2008 + Alabama Chanin article on Inhabitat (December 2007)