Natalie Chanin, owner and designer of Alabama Chanin

Contemporary dialogues regarding sustainability often focus on chemicals, materials, improved design, and manufacturing processes—and how these impact the environment. Without question, these are significant concerns. Looking closer into the depths and complexities of these materials, however, leads us to realize that sustainability also relies on the human skills necessary to manipulate materials into usable objects.

Alabama Chanin Spring/Summer 2010 Collection, Alabama Chanin, Natalie Chanin, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, organic fashion, organic clothing

MADE BY HAND

In striving to build truly sustainable communities, we must learn to respect and honor the relationships between materials, products, and individuals—skilled workers and artisans, who keep our traditions, manufacturing processes, and “Living Arts” alive.

The Living Arts consist of crafts and traditions that have been maintained and developed since the beginning of time. Couture garments have always been made by hand. In our more developed countries of the world today, the mechanization of growing, building, and making has markedly pushed the need and demand for handmade to the side-lines.

In the search for cost-efficiency, modern society has forgotten basic skills.

Modern society has, in many cultures, forgotten and neglected the underlying importance of these basic skills in the search for cost-efficiency. Growing our own food, making a dress or table, or fashioning a tool for ourselves and our communities is commonly a mystery.

Alabama Chanin Spring/Summer 2010 Collection, Alabama Chanin, Natalie Chanin, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, organic fashion, organic clothing

DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES

It is clear to me that people today are looking for ways to find connections to the products that they purchase to uncover the mystery of how something is made. This is at the essence of the resurgence of the DIY movement and/or our “handmade renaissance.”

People are looking for connections to the products they purchase to find out how something is made.

And I use the word resurgence very specifically. The DIY movement never died as we tend to portray. People in rural communities have always understood that the process of “doing it yourself” was both more cost effective and created a better-quality product, be it clothing, food, or shelter.

Consumers today want to understand where something comes from, how it is made, and how that product can be incorporated into their life. We want and need to have a deep-rooted connection to the story behind why something is made and, consequently, want a connection to the person who makes it.

Alabama Chanin Spring/Summer 2010 Collection, Alabama Chanin, Natalie Chanin, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, organic fashion, organic clothing

POPPING THE QUESTIONS

I believe that the future of commerce will develop that people will ask these sorts of questions at the point of purchase: Why does this product exist? Why should I bring this into my life? How can this be incorporated into my life? Will this be something that I will want to keep in my life forever?

The future of commerce will be full of questions: Why does this product exist? Why should I bring this into my life?

What is the connection of this item to the earth to the hands that make the pieces that we wear? This will be the question of the next decade.

+ Alabama Chanin