This year – 2020 – will mark the 20th year of the company now called Alabama Chanin. While we have changed and grown over the years, our purpose has largely remained the same. Our values are steadfast. What began as a kind of experiment has grown into a company and a way of life that has impacted so many and, for that, we are grateful. We pledge to maintain our commitment to ethical production, sustainable practices, education, and – wherever possible – using organic, American-made, and local resources. As our mission proudly states, we strive for thoughtful design, responsible production, good business, and quality that lasts.
When Alabama Chanin, the heart of our collection of businesses, began, we primarily utilized upcycled and repurposed cotton jersey in our handmade garments. Today, our heirloom pieces are created using 100% organic cotton and are carefully crafted by skilled artisans who run their own businesses. This method of production allows us to stay lean, as no handmade piece is created until ordered. It also ensures that we stay invested in our community by hiring local sewists and paying competitive prices.
As we grew, we saw the benefit of open sourcing our methods as a way to share the ideas of sustainable making and community. Natalie’s first book, Alabama Stitch Book, was the first of five Studio Books (and counting) and ultimately led to the creation of The School of Making, which oversees our educational programming. This arm of our family of businesses allows us to offer the same organic and sustainable materials to our makers, as we use ourselves – ensuring that responsible making becomes a way of life for an ever-growing number of people.
Our Bldg. 14 machine-made line launched in 2014 and has allowed us to produce small batches in a way that supports the tenets of Slow Fashion. Each piece made is made by hand, on a machine, by an individual who works with intention. In our journey toward sustainability and greater understanding of the organic production process, we grew our own cotton in conjunction with designer Billy Reid. It instilled pride in our company and our community, and helped us all appreciate the work that goes into creating the materials that we use every day.
Our commitment to sustainability has driven our desire to maintain transparency in our production methods and materials, at every level of our supply chain. Part of our responsibility to you means learning about and understanding where each material comes from, who is involved in its production, and how it ultimately will end up in your hands. As we continue to evolve, we welcome you to join us in our ever-expanding work towards making good things responsibly and with love.