With 2014 coming to a close and a brand new year upon us, it is time to reflect on all we’ve accomplished—slow in design, but rapid in growth—during the past year. But first and foremost, we want to thank each and every single one of our supporters, friends, collaborators, partners, and everyone who has made 2014 the success that it has been. Without you, none of this would be possible.
No feat was as challenging—or as rewarding—as our organic Alabama cotton adventure. From a seedling of an idea to the harvest of pillowcases full of beautiful, white cotton, the success of this project is one of our proudest achievements. Not only were we able to physically see the fruits of our labor, we were also able to see the rewards of sticking to our ideals: sustainability, community, education, open-source sharing, and transparency in method.
2014 also saw the birth of A. Chanin, our machine-made line, which offers the same excellence as the Alabama Chanin collection at a lower price point. Each piece from this line is constructed by our Bldg. 14 production facility using the highest quality materials, slow design, sustainable fashion, and expert craftsmanship.
Another addition to The Factory was our very own natural dye house. Like everything else at Alabama Chanin, the dye house was born out of a love for learning and creating; and from it, countless new creations have formed. In less than six months, and countless indigo vats later, we have added to our collection garment-dyed Indigo pieces, limited-edition Evergreen garments, and many more to come—all hand-dyed here at The Factory.
After one of our Makeshift workshops in 2012, Rosanne Cash stated, “I recognized once again that in creativity, the sum is often greater than the parts.” This is something we have always believed in our core. We have been lucky enough to expand on this belief in 2014.
The conversation began in May at this year’s Makeshift where we explored making as individuals and how making as a group can help build communities, and help us co-design a brighter future. And like the adage “leap, and the net will appear”, conversation led to opportunities for action. We have continued the spirit of Makeshift at home with the recent addition of our On Design lecture series, hosted here at The Factory on the second Monday of each month.
We were sent an email titled “Asante Sana (Thank You) from Kenya” from a woman named Nirvana. Nirvana is part of a team living and working in Kenya to teach Kenyans how to move “beyond survival entrepreneurship.” The Kenyan community wanted a tailoring class, which led them to hand sewing, which then led Nirvana to Alabama Chanin and our sewing tutorials. Nirvana emailed to thank us, but we are the ones who should be thanking her. Nothing makes us happier than a confirmation that the Alabama Chanin mission of sustainability and advancement of the “living arts” has meaning on a global level. We have sent a care package to Kenya, as well as online resources, and we eagerly anticipate hearing about the growth of the community there.
Another project we were proud to participate in this past year was the collaboration with Patagonia on their Reclaimed Down Scarf. Patagonia is built on ideals of sustainable design and responsible manufacturing, and we were honored to have the opportunity to work with their entire team. Before they turned to us, Patagonia had deemed the materials that turned into beautiful scarves as “dogs” who had reached the end of their life-cycle, but Patagonia was determined not to let them reach a landfill—as were we. The results speak not only to beautiful craftsmanship but to the power of collaboration, community, determination, and responsible slow design.
Thank you to everyone who has believed and continues to believe in us, and here’s to a 2015 that builds on the past, inspires the future, and continues to break down barriers.
xoNatalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin