Tag Archives: Collection

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BLUE: INSPIRATION

Blue: one of the three primary colors.

In Dutch, it is blauw; in Irish, gorm.

In the ancient world, blue was the color of the working class.

It can convey trust, loyalty, cleanliness, and understanding. It may also be associated with sadness and longing.

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Henri Matisse once wrote that, “A certain blue penetrates your soul.”

Complex and contradictory

Heavenly or melancholy

Uniform or casual

Blue is harmony.

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Blue Figures: Explore our Collection evolution.

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COLLECTION SUCCESSION

“And it was that day I first began to understand that a collection could be like the environment— slowly evolving, morphing, and changing—and that a trend could be something that describes a slow movement over a decade (or two).” – Natalie

Look for a new evolution of the Alabama Chanin Collection next Tuesday. Until then, shop our last chance styles.

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BURT’S BEES BABY: A ZERO-WASTE COLLABORATION

Burt’s Bees is among the most prominent brands in America with a sustainable approach to doing business. Their ingredients and packaging are simple, natural, and responsible. The company describes itself as “a bunch of hands-on, tree-hugging, greased elbow do-gooders,” and we believe that is among dozens of reasons why Burt’s Bees Baby is a natural collaborator for Alabama Chanin.

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We have partnered with Burt’s Bees Baby to launch a limited-edition capsule collection of baby clothes in three sets. Alabama Chanin has always strived to be a zero-waste company and Burt’s Bees Baby has also made a commitment to sending zero waste to the landfill. As a result, we offer this zero-waste collaboration, using scraps from our Fall Collection.

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Each piece in this collection is sewn in our Bldg.14 facility and the embroideries are completed by our Alabama Chanin artisans. The collection includes the “Bee in her Bonnet Set”— bloomers and ruffle dress set; “The Bees Knees Set”—a kimono wrap top and pants set; and the “Busy as a Bee Set”—a waffle-knit raglan top, pull-on pants, and a top knot hat set. The styles are all made from our soft organic cotton fabrics and are comfortable yet durable. They are available in sizes ranging from 0 to 12 months.

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Find the collection on the Alabama Chanin website, at The Factory in Florence, and on BurtsBeesBaby.com. We are honored to work alongside the team at Burt’s Bees Baby doing work that celebrates sustainable life and design.

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INSPIRATION: ANNA ATKINS

In the late 1830s, English Botanist Anna Atkins likely was not too interested in the specifics of photography. Atkins was formally trained as a botanist and, at the time, was studying algae. Through her practice, she was looking for a way to document the delicate elements of each specimen. She learned of the process of cyanotype printing (today used for blueprints) from its inventor, Sir John Herschel, a family friend. She further explored information about photography via correspondence with its actual inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Working in the early 1840s, she documented her work using a photogenic drawing, gently placing each delicate specimen onto a sheet of paper that had been made light sensitive by a chemical mixture, and a piece of glass to hold it all together. Once all components were secured, they were placed in the sun; after enough exposure to light, the paper was washed in water, and the image would appear. The resulting print was known as a cyanotype because of the blue color produced by the chemicals on the paper. The twenty-something-year-old woman was actually developing a process that would be pioneering in scientific imagery.

Over the years, Atkins collected hundreds of specimens and photographed them. They were arranged into volumes and published over the course of ten years. The volumes contain more than 400 types of algae and Atkins made multiple photographs of each specimen. She reproduced copies of her book over the years, though it is estimated that only a dozen or so remain. Her work is seen as an important contribution to the development of photography, as it was shown that cyanotype could reveal the intricate details of algae, but also botanical specimens like ferns, and even feathers and lace.

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Sketch of our Victoria stencil featured in the Collection.

Anna Atkins is believed to be the first person to publish a book using photographic images but is also believed to be the first woman ever to take a photograph. On March 16, 2015, Google commemorated Atkins on her 216th birthday by displaying a Google Doodle of bluish leaf shapes, meant to represent her cyanotype work. Atkins’ work, as we briefly mentioned here, served as inspiration for part of our newest Collection. View the entire Collection here.

View the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection of Anna’s book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions.

P.S.: Visit back on our Journal to learn more about Rinne Allen, who produces her own light drawings.

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COLLECTION: PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

Through Bldg. 14—the design and manufacturing operation of Alabama Chanin which focuses on machine sewn garments and goods—we have been able to create a line of accessibly priced, 100% organic cotton t-shirts. The Clean Tees were released in early summer and take inspirations from streetwear, athleisure, and a casual lifestyle to create unisex styles. The fit: classic and comfortable.

Through our various Collections, we celebrate the different qualities and offerings that hand-embroidered or machine-sewn details create, as well as the process it takes to arrive at a finished garment.

Explore looks below that incorporate our Ringer Tee with the Alabama Chanin Collection, creating everyday comfort and modern style by pairing the two forms of sewn artistry.

P.S.: These looks are shown with USA-made denim from our friends at Imogene + Willie.

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Victoria Blazer, Ringer Tee, Imogene + Willie Imogene Indigo Rinse denim

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l: Victoria Blazer, Ringer Tee, Imogene + Willie Imogene Indigo Rinse denim; r: Dolman Tee and Robyn Skirt

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Union Special Flat Seamer in Bldg. 14

Top image: from left to right – Elle Skirt with The Dolman Tee and The Terry Blazer, The Terry Blazer with The Dolman Tee, The Dolman Tee with The Tailored Pant, and the Ringer Tee with the Mid-length Inside Out Skirt.

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COLLECTION: ARTISAN MADE

“The mirror reflects all objects without being sullied.” – Confucius

Such is the intent of the elaborate embroideries in our most recent Collection. By mirroring each delicate design, they become more substantial, all while ensuring the garment’s femininity.

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Right: the Victoria Blazer, Left: the Cade Dolman Coat

Our design team has long had a love affair with vintage embroideries—the soft and lacy feel of embroidered tea towels and the fine filigree of flowers in an English garden. This technique allows them to expand upon that inspiration in a way that suits Alabama Chanin’s style.

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The Beatrice Dress

The floral inspiration began with the work of botanist Anna Atkins (more on her later) who used cyanotype photogenic drawings of her specimens. The technique produced delicate blue images—ghostly outlines of detailed botanical samples. Our design and production teams, moved by the intricacies and gracefulness of each image, used those blue and white representations as a jumping-off point for our original embroideries—to be mirrored in placement on our garments.

We have combined these vintage-style images with Swans Island organic merino wool yarns, A Verb for Keeping Warm’s natural dyed fine wools, and chenille piping to complete each embroidery. The effect is delicate, yet strong and significant. The mirroring design strengthens the effect. It is a play of significant and gentle features entwined.

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The embroideries are completed by our artisans whose talent we showcase through our designs. For readers who are new to our Journal, or unfamiliar with our business model, our method of production provides a variety of projects to local seamstresses (our artisans) who work as Independent Contractors who run their own businesses and are in charge of their own lives.

The patterns for the styles are cut and stenciled in our studio and prepared for embroideries and – in most cases – the construction of the garments. These embroideries are then executed by these independent contractors– living within about an hour and a half of our studio. Since our inception, it has been an important mission of ours to bring as much economic development as possible into our community and to our independent contractors. This open work/open source philosophy is a goal that we strive to achieve every day. By purchasing a hand-sewn garment, you are not only supporting our business but supporting the independent contractors who make this work possible.

Explore all of the embroideries and designs in the Collection here. If you have questions about the styles you see in our Collection, our Personal Stylist is here to offer guidance on fit, design details, and styling as well as offer insight into your preferences and lifestyle needs and support you in your decision-making process.

You can contact our Personal Stylist Monday – Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pm CST. Call our Customer Service team and ask for Betsy at 256-760-1090 or by email shop@alabamachanin.com.

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SWANS ISLAND COMPANY: ACCESSORIES COLLABORATION

We are continually looking for quality companies to partner with on Alabama Chanin items and, once again, we are honored to showcase a collaboration with Maine-based operation, Swans Island Company. They have a team of craftspeople who marry old techniques with technology to produce handcrafted pieces. We find a kinship with them because of their commitment to responsible production, quality-sourced products, and dedication to carrying on a historic craft.

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Founded in 1992, the company has produced textiles and yarns that begin as natural fibers sourced from responsible suppliers. Swans Island proudly supports many local New England farms and domestic, family-run farms that have been producing for generations. They source organic merino wool from South America but ensure that it has been certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard before putting it into production.

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Before knitting, all yarns are spun in New England on vintage machinery and then dyed in Swans Island’s dye house. This is just another quality control measure and a way for their artisanal dye house to perfect each colorway to just the right shade. Swans Island dyes many of their products using naturally derived pigments like cochineal, indigo, and madder root. Others are dyed using low-impact dyes (like some of the ones we use at Alabama Chanin) that have deep and rich colors but use less water and energy than traditional dyes.

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The manufacturing itself has taken place for over 15 years in a farmhouse built in the 1800s. Within the building, artisans operate handlooms, dye and skein yarn, and hand-finish each of their products—going over every piece with a comb to look for stray threads. Swans Island’s processes celebrate slow, handmade, and traditional over fast-paced and disposable. Their industrial looms are vintage and dye vats are carefully monitored. For them, the process and the product are inseparable.

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Just as with Alabama Chanin, Swans Island Company takes a great deal of their inspiration from the community and their surroundings. They claim their home in Maine as their biggest design inspiration. “Clean lines, vibrant hues, and the inherent beauty of raw natural materials” draw directly from their environment and are the foundation for their way of working and their products. They also offer a unique cleaning and repair program (known as the Blanket Hospital) that helps extend the life of each product. Again, as with Alabama Chanin, Swans Island Company makes goods that are meant to last a lifetime and to be integrated into the daily lives of their owners—timeless and modern all at once.

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Pictured with the Rib Turtleneck Dress

We are proud to partner with Swans Island Company on both the woven wrap Dayton Scarf and knit Union Wrap, both made with organic merino yarns, organic cotton jersey, and embroidery floss. The Dayton Scarf is handwoven in Northport, Maine, in the Swans Island studio. It is made from 100% certified organic merino wool and hand-dyed with all natural dyes. In our community of The Shoals, Alabama Chanin artisans add the finishing touches with their hand embroidery.

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Pictured with the Julian Dress

The Union Wrap is custom knit in New Jersey for Swans Island and hand-dyed with low impact dyes. The wrap is made from a blend of merino wool and tussah silk with hand embroideries completed by our artisans.

Seek out more Swans Island Company products and yarns at your local retailers and read more about the company on their website.

Photos of Swans Island courtesy of Rinne Allen, taken on location this summer.

INSPIRATION: NATALIE’S DRESS

Depending on when you were born, the turtleneck may bring to mind any number of things: 1950s chic, 1960s bohemian, 1970s women’s activists, or (record scratch) 1990s Jerry Seinfeld-era goofiness.

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Left: Natalie in her dress and pendent necklace with her friend Tricia; Chattanooga, Tennessee. Right: Natalie in a variation of that dress with her granddaddy and son, Zach on the family farm; Central, Alabama. Both images from 1986.

But the wonderful thing about a turtleneck is its timelessness. This particular style in our recent round of Collection updates is inspired by Natalie’s closet and a sense memory of clothing; she has incorporated it into her personal wardrobe over the years. When she worked on 7th Avenue at her first job in New York, Natalie designed a turtleneck dress as her first design, which she still holds a special fondness for.

The turtleneck is a frame for your face. Until now, a turtleneck might not have seemed your first choice for those days when you need to feel more classic and beautiful. But all you have to do is remember this: Ann-Margret, Audrey Hepburn, Eartha Kitt, Joan Didion, Brigitte Bardot all loved and routinely wore turtlenecks—the classic beauty is there for the taking.

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Our new turtleneck-inspired styles in the Collection include Natalie’s Dress (derived from her original design), Natalie’s Tunic,  Rib Turtleneck Dress, The Easy Turtleneck, and The Easy Turtleneck Tunic. Lasting beauty and modern design. The turtleneck never wears you; you always wear the turtleneck.

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COLLECTION: AN EVOLUTION

Our Collection evolution continues with the introduction of new everday styles, embroideries, and colors. These updates tie together the work Natalie and our design team have created earlier in 2018 with what’s to come. We have quite a few updates to share and present them below in an easy-to-follow outline.

NATALIE’S DRESS, TUNIC, AND PULLOVER

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Natalie’s Dress, Natalie’s Tunic, Natalie’s Pullover

Natalie and our team have created a color block organic cotton rib and jersey dress as part of our Core styles. The turtleneck tunic is a solid version of the dress and both feature pockets (something we can’t live without). Visit the Journal next Tuesday to learn more about the inspiration behind this new style—one of Natalie’s favorite dresses.

Also with pockets, Natalie’s Pullover is by far a favorite in the studio. The pullover top has a funnel neck, exaggerated long sleeves, draping sides, and a comfortable and cozy fit. It makes a great layering piece as we head into the cooler seasons.

EASY TOPS

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The Easy Turtleneck Tunic, The Easy Turtleneck

Our new series of Core tops embodies effortless style. Made from lightweight jersey, The Easy Turtleneck and The Easy Turtleneck Tunic share certain features like elbow-length sleeves and a loose and flattering fit. The tops can be tucked in or worn out, and the tunic offers at alternative length if you are looking for more coverage.

PANSY VINE + SWANS ISLAND

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The Dayton Scarf, The Union Wrap

The latest embroidery in the Collection is a delicate variation of the floral stencil we showcased this spring and summer. Designed with a moving vine throughout, smaller flowers sprout then spread into a fuller arrangement of appliquéd pansies for a beautiful 3D effect that adds depth and dimension. With this embroidery, we incorporate soft, merino yarns from Swans Island Company —our most recent collaboration partner with whom we developed the Dayton Scarf and Union Wrap. Swans Island creates home textiles and accessories from their headquarters on the coast of Maine. Their artisans use certified organic merino wool and locally sourced fine wools from family-run New England farms. We’ll share more about Swans Island in the coming weeks on the Journal.

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Left: Julian Dress; right: Avis Top and Elle Skirt

PLUM

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The Rib Crew and Graffiti Rib Skirt

And lastly, Collection styles are now offered in Plum, a rich burgundy hue.

Explore the newly updated Collection here.

Find our Core styles here.

P.S.: If you have questions about fit and styling, please contact our Personal Stylist who can help you with the styles presented on our website.

P.P.S.: The shoes are by Nisolo and are ethically hand made in Peru at a factory they own and operate. Learn more about this like-minded brand here.

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THE FACTORY + ALABAMA CHANIN | 33/52 | 2018

“Alabama Chanin has evolved into a community… a company of farmers, fabric makers, artisans and our customers who support what we do.”Natalie Chanin from the archives: W Magazine, 2011

With the excitement of a new Collection at the forefront of our minds, this week we take a few moments to reflect on all Alabama Chanin’s collections and how, though different, each serves a unique aspect of our customers’ lives and embodies the heart of Alabama Chanin: sustainability, quality, and beauty.

Collection: The classic Alabama Chanin collection creates styles for everyday wear. Through thoughtful design, Natalie and our team have created a grouping of styles that are modern essentials that are meant to last a lifetime. The collection celebrates both hand and machine-sewn artisan methods of manufacturing, even creating “hybrid” garments that marry the two craft forms into one garment. You’ll find our Core Essential styles alongside embroidered and decorated garments.

Bridal + Evening: Bringing sustainability and beauty to some of life’s most treasured moments, Alabama Chanin has been creating bridal gowns and special occasion attire since 2010. From classic silhouettes like the Guinevere Dress to elaborately hand-embroidered pieces like the Lauderdale Dress, our special occasion pieces transcend trends. The collection can be worn to a variety of events throughout the seasons and the heirloom-quality gowns will be passed down through generations. In 2016 we introduced customer-favorite bridal styles to Custom DIY, allowing you to create your own one-of-kind garment for your most special day.

Leisure: The Leisure Collection, created in 2017, ushered in a new facet of Alabama Chanin: clothing for the home that fosters a sense of comfort and wellbeing. Robes, nightgowns, tanks, leggings, and underpinnings crafted from luxurious, organic cotton and waffle-knit fabrics form a curated collection of relaxation. (Look for updates to Leisure later this fall.)

Cook + Dine: Striving for sustainability in all aspects of life, the Cook + Dine Collection allows us to bring American-made goods to the table and kitchen. Tableware, like placemats, coasters, and napkins are assembled, from start to finish, by one of our skilled machine sewers with 100% organic cotton and canvas. Artisan-made aprons and potholders are paired with beloved cookbooks. Cook + Dine is also a space that has allowed us to collaborate with businesses like The Commons and Hawks and Doves, and to work with like-minded artists, near and far.

Personal Stylist: “Impeccable service” is one of the eight Guiding Principles of Alabama Chanin. Whether you are purchasing an heirloom skirt or a machine-sewn cardigan, impeccable fit and modern styling are what we guarantee to each of our guests. To ensure this, we recently added a Personal Stylist service for our Collection. If you have questions about fit, design details, care instructions, or need recommendations for adding to your current wardrobe or what styles fit best with your lifestyle, our Personal Stylist is only a call or email away.

Shop the Alabama Chanin Collections below:

Collection
Leisure
Cook + Dine
Bridal + Evening

Call our Personal Stylist at 256-760-1090 to schedule an in-store appointment and fitting.

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COLLECTION: PERSONAL STYLIST

Our Family of Businesses includes customer service as a deep part of its mission statement and vision for business.  We strive to build relationships on trust and quality.

Our interactions and bonds with our guests over the last two decades have helped us learn how to grow and adapt. After listening to your shopping questions and looking at your needs, we’ve created a new service for our Collection customers: Personal Stylist.

The Personal Stylist is here to offer guidance on the types of garments we offer, their fit, design details, and how our garments can be styled. Our stylist can also help coordinate any prior purchases you’ve made with new pieces, offer insight into your preferences and lifestyle needs, and support you in your decision-making process.

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Of course, this service builds on the relationships we have formed over the last two decades. As always, it matters to us that Alabama Chanin reflects your daily lifestyle—which means we want our garments to be a part of your life for years to come.

You can contact our Personal Stylist Monday – Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pmCST. Call our team at 256-760-1090 or by email shop@alabamachanin.com.

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GRAFFITI: INSPIRATION + HISTORY

Graffiti has probably been around since the earliest days of man. Seriously. Paintings inside the Lascaux Caves in France date to prehistoric times—and graffiti was actually found in the Italian archaeological site of Pompeii, where some man proudly scribbled, “Gaius Pumidius Diphilus was here.”

While those might have been the original graffiti artists, graffiti as street art largely began in the 1960s and is generally traced to high school student Darryl McCray, better known as Cornbread. Cornbread lived in North Philadelphia and took to painting tributes to his crush, in the form of “Cornbread Loves Cynthia,” all over North Philly. Eventually, he took to just painting his name (aka his “tag”) across the city. Philadelphia birthed several other well-known graffiti and tag artists like Cool Earl and Top Cat 126.

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Image credit: Dazed

Toward the end of the 1960s, graffiti was emerging in New York and tags were usually just an alias and a number, like JULIO204, CAY161, and the infamous TAKI183. The New York Times printed an article on TAKI183, resulting in a street game, of sorts. Artists were constantly trying to get their tags noticed the most. Subway trains were perfect backdrops for graffiti and spray-painted trains became part of the city’s underground landscape. The artwork became more complex and the artists became more notorious. Toward the end of the 1970s, graffiti was gradually being viewed as a legitimate form of artwork and, most notably, artists Fab 5 Freddy and Lee Quinones (both from Brooklyn graffiti collective The Fabulous Five) had an art dealer and were given a prominent exhibition in Rome, Italy.

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In the 1980s, street art and hip-hop culture were becoming inextricably linked. News stories often linked graffiti and crime, but it was also being associated with music of all sorts. Fab 5 Freddy’s friendship with Blondie singer Debbie Harry got him name-checked in their 1981 hit “Rapture” – and Freddy appeared in the song’s music video alongside up-and-coming artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Richard Hambleton were key in moving graffiti into a conceptual, rather than literal approach. Punk culture was also adopting graffiti into their ethos. Stencil use became more prevalent and soon you could see feminist and anarchist messages alongside punk rock band names.

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Image credit: The Daily Edge

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Image credit: My Modern Met

As time passed, the 1990s brought graffiti art a newfound legitimacy with artists like Shepard Fairey and Banksy. Fairey’s art emerged from skateboard culture was more known for sticker campaigns (most notably, OBEY: Andre the Giant Has a Posse), and he would eventually become known for creating a series of posters supporting Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run, particularly the iconic “HOPE” image. Banksy is perhaps the most famous street artist of today and was influenced by 80s French stencil artist Blek le Rat. Banksy produced a documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, which was nominated for an Oscar.

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By definition, graffiti is public art and there has always been a hierarchy and culture of earned respect among artists. It also has an element of subversion and pure creativity. Our Graffiti Capsule collection is meant to capture a bit of that subversive feeling and challenge the norm.

Lead image credit: New York Amsterdam News

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INSPIRATION: GRAFFITI

Graffiti is a form of expression, a way to state things (i.e. funny, political, or otherwise), and can be found in any place. We’re using our graffiti in defense of clean cotton, safe fashion, and a healthy environment.

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Wear it alone. Mix it with other graffiti. Layer it.

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Tie your hair back with it. Belt it. Rest in it. Work in it. However you decide to wear your Alabama Chanin graffiti, make it your own.

Find more of our Graffiti: Red, White, and Blue collection here.
Find the #alabamachanincollection on Instagram @alabamachanin.

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HAMBIDGE + PROCESS IN WORKS WITH NATALIE

Created in 1934 by Mary Hambidge, the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts & Sciences is an artist community and sustainable farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, founded in memory of artist Jay Hambidge—Mary’s partner who introduced her to her life’s work, weaving. After retiring from work as a popular vaudeville whistler (with her pet mockingbird, Jimmy), Mary met Jay, discovered weaving, and began employing local women to create textiles that would one day be featured in exhibits in the Smithsonian and MOMA. Later, Mary began inviting artists for extended stays on her property in the mountains and those evolved into an official residency program after her death in 1973.

This summer, Natalie was invited to stay at Hambidge for a month-long artist residency and her art will be featured in conjunction with artist Rachel Garceau in an exhibition called Process in Works. Process in Works explores the purposeful setting of intentions, ways to approach the world with curiosity, the meaning of value, and it creates cumulative beauty with small, everyday actions and objects.

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Stop by the Weave Shed Gallery at Hambidge on June 30th for the opening of the exhibition and a leisurely summer afternoon filled with stories, homemade ice cream and small bites, and woodland walks with Natalie and her dear friends Angie Mosier, Lisa Donovan, and Rinne Allen. The reception, from 4:00pm ­– 7:00pm, is free and open to the public.

The exhibition will run until September 8th and is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Hambidge Center is carrying out important work, and we thank them for the opportunity.

P.S.: Look for more from Natalie about Hambidge later this summer on the Journal.

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AIR LOVE + WAFFLE DRAPE TANK

When last fall’s collection launched, it included Alabama Chanin’s embroidered take on a graphic tee, which was hand embroidered with the phrase “Air Love” as a nod to our beginning as a company and to living with air and love alone. We’ve adapted the graphic tee to a version that accommodates the summer heat—the Air Love Drape Tank.

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Using the same luxurious 100% organic cotton waffle knit used in our Leisure collection, this sleeveless silhouette provides breezy comfort, while making a statement.

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INSIDE OUT (SKIRT)

While developing new styles for the Collection, the design team began using “inside out skirt” as our development name for a new skirt style—and the name stuck. The meaning of the phrase “inside out” evokes thoughts of transparency and exposing what is hidden on the inside—whether physically or metaphorically. While there is a literal placement of the skirt’s pockets on the outside of this garment, we have a varied interpretation as “inside out” is something that goes back to the origins of Alabama Chanin.

When Natalie began creating her first series of hand-sewn t-shirts 18 years ago, she constructed and sewed them in a way that exposed the seams. This highlighted the structure of the garment, something seen often in modern architecture where the structure of a building is exposed—but it also symbolized an honesty and integrity to the way that she was making. That practice of full transparency—whether it be sharing our supply chain or sewing techniques—is rooted in our company and is something we practice deeply today.

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The Inside Out Skirt is machine sewn by the Bldg. 14 team and takes inspiration from the exposed seams that have been a design detail on many hand-sewn garments over the years.

And there are two pockets within one—one that you can access from the outside, to slip in your hands. The other is an “internal” pocket that is accessed by unsnapping the waistband. You have a secure place to store your belongings here.

The Inside Out Skirt can be reversed to conceal the pockets and the contrast binding. If you reverse the skirt, the Alabama Chanin label will be visible, but then again, we love transparency.

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NEW COLLECTION STYLES

In March, we introduced new Collection designs on the Spring Equinox. Two months later, as we begin to dip our toes into summer, we expand on the Collection with a handful of new designs to welcome the change of seasons. Even though our designs are not classed to a particular season, we do find inspiration and energy in the change of the natural world and our environment.

If you aren’t familiar with our design philosophy: our timeless and quality designs last and supersede trends and daily wear. We work with 100% organic cotton—soft, luxurious, and sustainably grown. All of our production takes places in our community, and we pride ourselves on continuing the art of textile craft.

Explore our latest Collection designs below that bring these elements together.

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Inside Out Skirt

This skirt’s unique, exposed pockets are functional from outside and inside the skirt. The Inside Out Skirt flares generously at the hip with snap closures at the waist, and the color block binding adds an interesting design detail.

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Air Love Drape Tank

Our Air Love Tee has been a popular style and best seller since it’s was introduced last fall. We’ve incorporated the hand-beaded graphic design into our Waffle Drape Tank for a fun and comfortable look.

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Cybele Skirt

This skirt design takes the Inside-Out Skirt to a new level with intricate hand embroidery and pockets that are functional on the inside and outside.

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Persephone Dress 

We’ve designed a few embroidered versions of this double-breasted dress (Charles Dress and Lee Dress) with this floral design being the newest.

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Leighton Skirt

This full skirt was introduced in last fall’s Collection where we began using organic cotton chambray fabrics. We introduce a new color—Dark Indigo—to the current palette of Black and Vetiver.

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Bloom Skirt

Our stenciled machine-sewn Core styles have been popular sellers over the years. The Bloom Skirt is the first to feature our floral design and is paired with a geometric stripe.

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Mae Jacket

We often take basic styles and add stenciling or embroidery. The yoke of the Moto Jacket features our floral Collection design incorporated with hand embroidery.

See the entire Collection here.
Find the #alabamachanincollection on Instagram @alabamachanin.

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GEOMETRIC LINES + SPRING FLORALS

Geometric lines and spring florals layer over core styles, creating one-of-a-kind looks for the artist at work and in life. (We interpret the word artist loosely and encourage you to find a creative energy unique to you.)

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The Charles Dress styled with The Elbow Scoop and The Crop Pant.

Our artist smocks and double-breasted dresses feature pockets and princess seams—functional and feminine details. We offer basic hand-stitched styles and embroidered versions.

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The Charles Dress layered with the Viola Tunic and the Striped Rib Skirt.

Lead image: The Beckett Smock styled with The Elbow Scoop and The Crop Pant.

Shop our current Collection here.

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FLORAL SENTIMENT + STYLES ANEW

Winters are spent hibernating, resting up and recharging, planning and starting things anew. And then, every spring, the world awakens. Color reintroduces itself into our lives. The emergence of blooms and buds changes our landscape.

Our design team spent early winter in the final stages of developing spring dresses for our Collection. They looked to the pansy—a garden flower—for design inspiration, creating textured embroideries with a floral sentiment.

For this collection refresh, we’ve also modified a handful of existing garments for a better fit and experience. Have a look below.

The Rinne Dress

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With its fitted bodice and full pleated skirt, the Rinne Dress has been a popular style since its debut last spring. Feminine and flattering, we’ve made it more functional by extending the front opening—which now runs the entire length of the front placket with secure and stylish gunmetal snaps.

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Tunics
Tunics provide a nice alternative for an “in between” length. They allow for more coverage and can be worn with pants or layered over a skirt. Our design team has created two new tunic options from the Rinne and Ashley Dresses. With its open front, the hand-sewn Rinne Tunic can be worn as a layered vest or snapped closed for a more classic look.

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The machine-sewn Ashley Tunic creates a casual alternative with pockets, one of our must-have details in a garment. The A-line shape has a slight swing to it and the soft collar creates a beautiful detail to this basic style.

The Pencil Skirt

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The Pencil Skirt is one of our few Collection styles made from lightweight jersey. This lighter weight of cotton offers a soft, silky feel. The characteristics of the fabric allow it to stretch and relax as you wear it, and the kick-pleat creates more room for movement. For this hand-sewn skirt, we’ve updated the waistband to a wide, satin-smooth option. The skirt has a snug fit that shows off your curves, and we’ve modified the pattern creating more shaping in the hips for greater comfort and fit.

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The Tailored Shirt

This top debuted in our fall Bridal + Evening Collection and is our take on a classic button-up top. The construction seams of this pullover style have been modified—a detail that isn’t noticeable from the outside but allows for a lower price. The front placket has top-stitched accents—showcasing the classic Alabama Chanin hand-stitched look.

Find updated styles and more in our Collection.

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MOOD: COLLECTION

We’re loving the early spring moodiness of our current Collection—heavy in Twilight, Navy, and Black—as we transition seasons. Friends and photographers Rinne Allen and Christy Bush collaborated on the shoot from their home base of Athens, Georgia.

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The Rib Turtleneck (Elbow Length)

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The Striped Stole and Ashley Dress

Below Rinne discovers beauty around Athens in her co-collaborative book with Kristen Bach and Rebecca Wood, Beauty Everyday.

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Let the countdown to spring begin…

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Pictured in the first image: The Rib Turtleneck and Rib Skirt

View our current Collection here.

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KNOW YOUR CORE

With the recent update of the Alabama Chanin Core Club, we want to take a moment to shine a spotlight on our Core Essentials—basic organic knit styles intended for everyday wear. They are designed and made by us in our Bldg. 14 manufacturing facility based out of our Alabama studio.

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Core Essentials include both hand and machine-sewn styles. Hand-sewn garments embody the foundations of Alabama Chanin and have been created in this manner since the company’s inception. While our machine-sewn line arrived in 2014, it has grown and our styles have evolved over the years. Some styles, like The Crop Cardigan, stuck while others found improved replacements as we learned more about the manufacturing process—integrating new details and treatments into the construction. Natalie and our team push themselves to try new things, stay inspired, listen to our customers, and create a range of fits while working and experimenting with organic knits. You can find our Core styles in the Alabama Chanin Collection or explore our current range of Core Essentials here.

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2018 ALABAMA CHANIN CORE CLUB

Introduced last May, the Alabama Chanin Core Club highlights the artistry and craftsmanship of our ethical machine manufacturing and hand sewing. Featured in Vogue, it includes five “starter” organic knit styles that incorporate seamlessly into your existing wardrobe. The separates also pa­ir together to create multiple outfits and looks on their own.

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Last winter, we introduced new colors, and now the bundle gets a brand new look as it evolves over the seasons.

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Find the updated Alabama Chanin Core Club here. #alabamachanincoreclub

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ALABAMA CHANIN – THE WAFFLE ROBE

THE WAFFLE ROBE

Our first foray into robe-making, the Waffle Robe is a kimono style cover-up that can be worn as a housecoat or bathrobe.

With its super soft, waffle weave, this well-designed luxury robe features lightweight jersey trims, deep front pockets, wide cropped sleeves, and a waist tie with belt loops.

Find the organic Waffle Robe here.
#getcozy

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE WAFFLE ROBE

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE WAFFLE ROBE

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GET COZY WITH OUR NEW LEISURE COLLECTION

Our Leisure Collection offers everything you’ll need to get cozy at home—organic knit loungewear, soft throws, soulful music, and sweet treats. Wrap up, make a Brandy Milk Punch (pg. 9 of the Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails) or bake up a batch of cookies (The Cherry Bombe Cookbook shares a recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip), daydream, rest, relish.

Made using cozy 100% organic cotton waffle knit fabric in modern silhouettes, our loungewear styles include a robe, undergarments, sleepwear, and comfortable separates that are versatile and easy—tops, leggings, and pullovers. Our favorite is the Hooded Waffle Turtleneck—a combination turtleneck and hooded pullover.

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Left: Waffle Drape Tank and Waffle Leggings; Right: Waffle Turtleneck

The waffle fabric is plush and in a true thermal-style (but better). If you are familiar with our medium- and lightweight jersey and rib knit fabrics, you’ll find this fabric thicker and snugger to fit—and very warm.

Our undergarments—Boyshorts, Bloomers, Crop Tank, and a Slip Dress—are made of our super soft rib-knit fabric. The styles have feminine details like lightweight trims and satin-smooth elastic to make you feel comfortable and sexy.

With versatility in mind, we designed many of our loungewear garments to easily incorporate into the everyday wardrobe. If your loungewear looks and feels good, why leave it at home?

Explore our new Leisure Collection with organic knit loungewear—seed-to-shelf Made in the USA.

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UPDATED ALABAMA CHANIN CORE CLUB

A culmination of our favorite Core Essential styles, the Alabama Chanin Core Club includes five styles bundled together in one shipment with over 20% savings.

Featured in Vogue, the Alabama Chanin Core Club provides a perfect sampling of basic pieces to take your wardrobe through the year. The styles include The Easy Dress with cap sleeves, The Rib Skirt, The Rib Turtleneck with long sleeves, The Rib Dress in sleeveless, The Scoop in an elbow length—each thoughtfully designed and ethically made in Alabama.

The styles complement one another and create opportunities for outfit building. Available in a pre-selected Black, the color palette provides a dark, sophisticated base to build on. Simplify and wear alone, layer them together, or combine with garments in your existing wardrobe.

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We moved into 2017 with a growing machine-sewn knit program as part of Bldg. 14. Our design team has eagerly worked over the last year to create Core Essential styles that accompany the Alabama Chanin Collection. We finish out this year by updating our Core Club with this new color offering, and we’ve updated our scarf add-on to feature our hand-embroidered Sylvan design.

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Find the updated Alabama Chanin Core Club here.

P.S.: The machine-sewn pieces pictured here were made by Victoria, as initialed in the “Made by” section of our label. View our Team page to meet Victoria and the entire Bldg. 14 team.

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INSPIRATION: BARBARA HEPWORTH

Our Collections feature new garment styles, including different varieties of smocks—inspired in part by the workwear of seminal female artists like Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, and Barbara Hepworth. Hepworth particularly kept to a distinctive style of work garments like aprons, hooded jackets, and the beloved smock.

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Barbara Hepworth in the Palais studio in 1963 with unfinished wood carving Hollow Form with White Interior. Photograph by Val Wilmer, courtesy Bowness, Hepworth Estate

Hepworth was a British sculptor whose career spanned five decades, and she created over 600 sculptures over the course of her lifetime. She was what is known as a direct carver—an artist who works using the actual material, rather than making mock-ups or models before beginning work. Her sculptures focused on form and abstraction, but also represented the relationships between the shape of the human body, natural landscapes, textures, and colors. She allowed the physical characteristics of her material to guide the shape and direction of each piece.

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Barbara Hepworth works on “Curved Form, Bryher II” (1961). Courtesy Bowness, Hepworth Estate

She believed that her work was meant to be handled, explored, and leaned against, rather than being displayed behind glass or in a restricted gallery setting. “I think every sculpture must be touched,” she said. “It’s part of the way you make it, and it’s really our first sensibility. It is the sense of feeling, it is first one we have when we’re born. I think every person looking at a sculpture should use his own body. You can’t look at a sculpture if you are going to stand stiff as a ramrod and stare at it, with a sculpture you must walk around it, bend toward it, touch it, and walk away from it.

During a time when sculpture (and art in general) was a male-dominated field, Hepworth became a highly recognizable and renowned figure. Rather than adapt to the masculine approach, she embraced her feminine point of view—injecting her experience as a mother and a woman into the curved silhouettes of her sculptures. A mother of four children, she examined maternity through her art over the course of her lifetime. “A woman artist is not deprived by cooking and having children, nor by nursing children with measles. One is in fact nourished by this rich life, provided one always does some work each day.”

View Barbara Hepworth’s work and learn more about her life here—and look for tunics inspired by Hepworth and artists at work in our Signature | Eveningwear collection.

Visit the Tate’s website to see archival footage from an interview with the artist from 1973.

First image: St Ives, Cornwall, England, May 1957, English sculptor Barbara Hepworth pictured with some of her completed works. Photograph: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

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MORE COLLECTION

Layer up this fall with our new Collection styles. We’ve added basic and embellished apron-smock designs that were originally introduced in our Signature | Eveningwear Collection. Our fitted and stretchy rib Core Essentials wear beautifully underneath these styles.

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In this look: The Rib Crew in Vetiver, The Artist’s Long Smock in Concrete, The Rib Skirt in Vetiver

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In this look: The Elbow Rib Turtleneck in Concrete, The Artist’s Smock in Black, The Rib Skirt in Concrete

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In this look: The Short Sleeve Rib Dress in Black and The Artist’s Long Smock in Concrete

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In this look: (left) The Crop Cardigan in Concrete and the Josef Dress in Natural; (right) The Elbow Scoop in Vetiver, the Gina Smock, and The Rib Skirt in Vetiver.

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In this look: (left) The Rib Dress in Black and The Mid-Length Coat in Concrete; (right) The Elbow Scoop in Vetiver, the Gina Smock, and The Rib Skirt in Concrete.

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In this look: The Factory Crop—a brand new style—and the Elle Skirt

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In this look: The Elbow Scoop in Vetiver and Sienna Dress

P.S.: Read more about our Collection here and look for artist inspiration on the Journal.

View our current Collection here.

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INSPIRATION: LEE BONTECOU

The Alabama Chanin Collection includes garments made using a new stencil design inspired by the work of multi-disciplined artist Lee Bontecou. We drew inspiration from some of her sculptures and paintings that resembled black holes or voids, but her work encompasses so much more than that. Bontecou has always been difficult to categorize, as her work reflects elements of Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism, and Feminist art. She was a true pioneer in the use of unconventional materials in her sculptures, integrating metal tubing, scrap hardware, and recycled linen during the 1950s and 1960s. She takes painstaking care with her work—always leaving visible traces of her making process, like stitches, scorch marks, and twisted wire.

One of her most significant discoveries was how a welding torch could be manipulated to create an easily controlled spray of black soot, which became one of her signature techniques. The torch used both oxygen and the chemical compound acetylene and when tinkering with the torch, Bontecou discovered that turning off the oxygen caused the acetylene to spray pure soot across her workroom floor. “I just started drawing with it, and I had to keep the torch moving. I burned up a lot of paper!” she said. “Then I got thicker paper that resisted the flame more, and it was an incredible black, it was just beautiful. I made a lot of drawings with it.”

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Left: Untitled, welded steel, canvas, black fabric and wire, 1959; Right: Ugo Mulas, Studio of Lee Bontecou, 1964, photograph © Ugo Mulas Heirs

Her use of soot as a material led her to create her signature black hole motifs. One of the sculptures used as inspiration for our design (Untitled, 1959) is a relief made from scrap metal scavenged from outside of factories and a broken conveyor belt from the laundromat located below her New York apartment. Like many of her sculptures, it combines industrial and natural elements and attempts to capture, as she described, “as much of life as possible – no barriers – no boundaries – all freedom in every sense.”

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Untitled, Welded steel, porcelain, wire mesh, canvas, grommets, and wire, 1980-98; image from the Museum of Modern Art

Many of her sculptures and wall reliefs were large and took years to create and were suspended from the ceiling or, if wall mounted, were ambitious in the amount of space they inhabited. Bontecou said, “I just got tired of sculpture as a big thing in the middle of the room. I wanted it to go into space.” For years, she left much of her work untitled, as she wanted the viewer to interpret the art without imposed meaning.

The video below from the MoMA displays some of Lee Bontecou’s seminal works.

#womenartists

Top image: Untitled, soot on paperboard,1958; image from the Museum of Modern Art

View our current Collection here.

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THE ARTIST AT WORK: THE SMOCK

In the past, we have looked to other artists’ personal styles to inspire elements of our Collections—Frida Kahlo, Anni Albers, and Georgia O’Keeffe, to name a few. As part of our most recent Signature | Eveningwear Collection, our design team was drawn to the idea of the artist at work—how artists can combine their media, tools, work styles, and artistic vision and (perhaps unknowingly) establish an affecting style that is a direct reflection of their work.

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Left: Barbara Hepworth at Trewyn Studio, 1961 Photograph by Rosemary Matthews, Courtesy Bowness, Hepworth Estate; Right: Barbara Hepworth working on Curved Form, Bryher II, 1961 Courtesy Bowness, Hepworth Estate

We looked to Barbara Hepworth, who created abstractionist, curvaceous sculptures from stone, wood, and bronze. She became a prominent figure in the Modernist movement and her clothing spoke directly to her lifestyle and work. She utilized messy materials and could not be precious about how she looked while working. Designer Margaret Howell once remarked of her work clothes, “When I had visited her studio in St Ives, the thing that stuck in my mind was the rail of aprons and shirts splattered with plaster of Paris. I liked the colors—indigo, tan, the colors of workwear.”

In order to chisel and paint and mold, she opted for overalls, hooded jackets, and smocks. She looked relaxed and natural; her clothing was a part of her. Inga Fraser, a curator of the Tate Museum once said, “Her early work was all about truth to material, allowing the material to shape the form of the sculpture itself, and her dress represents that. She dedicated herself completely to her art and had no qualms about being photographed in the clothes she wore to work in. It helped her to be taken seriously.”

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Left: Louise Bourgeois with Maman by Jean-François Jaussaud, Brooklyn, New York, 1995; Right: Louise Bourgeois by Robin Holland, 1990s

Other artists like Louise Bourgeois, who, as a child, worked with textiles in her family’s textile business, felt an emotional connection to garments and that was undoubtedly present in her work. “Clothing is…an exercise of memory…,” Bourgeois is quoted by MoMA.org. “It makes me explore the past…how did I feel when I wore that…” She often worked in smocks, but had a distinct personal style outside of the workroom. Even so, her sense of self and sense of fashion were reflected in the simple work garments she chose.

Among our newest garments are the Addison, Georgia, and Iris styles—all inspired by artist smock designs. Our smock style was also inspired by one of Natalie’s personal garments, made by Dries van Noten. These pieces are proof that personal style and work are often intertwined, whether or not the wearer is a “traditional” or celebrated artist. View our Signature | Eveningwear Collection and these smock-inspired garments here.

#womenartists

P.S.: Explore the Journal to discover the lives and work of more incredible women artists.

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NEW SIGNATURE | EVENINGWEAR

The Alabama Chanin Signature | Eveningwear Collection is designed with distinctive style in mind—so that you will have a special piece for your special occasion. To complement a unique sense of style, we introduce new designs for evening and reintroduce classic Bridal silhouettes in our new collection. The color palette includes a traditional White, along with Navy, Black, Black Walnut, and Silver.

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Addison Smock; Georgia Smock, The Scoop, Lena Pant

The collection offers a range of styles: long dresses, tunics for layering, fitted and flowy skirts, elegant gowns, shawl wraps, long coats, and even smocks. It showcases classic embroidery designs beside new embroideries—Tweed, Tuxedo Stripe, and Pin Stripe.

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Ada Smock and Colbert Skirt

The Tweed embroidery layers French terry and organic cotton jersey appliqué, with hand beading using sequins, bugle beads, and Swarovski crystals. The texture itself is inspired by a classic Chanel tweed jacket.

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Iris Smock, The Tailored Shirt, Tuxedo Pant

The Tailored Shirt is our take on a classic white button-down shirt. It is created with machine- and hand-sewing techniques and made from soft lightweight organic cotton. The shirt has a mock placket and rounded cuffs. The Lena Pant, inspired by a classic tuxedo pant, has a hand-beaded stripe on each side. Our formal pant pairs perfectly with the Tailored Shirt.

Explore the entire Signature | Eveningwear Collection to find your next special-occasion piece. Because of the lead times on our custom-made garments, we encourage you to start planning for formal holiday gatherings now.

If you are interested in placing a custom order, contact our sales team by emailing shop (at) alabamachanin.com or calling us at 256-760-1090, weekdays from 9:00am – 4:30pm CST. We can also accommodate custom consultations and fittings at The Factory.

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CHAMBRAY (+ SALLY FOX)

Part of our newest Collection includes our first garments made from organic chambray fabric, courtesy of organic cotton pioneer Sally Fox. Sally was an invaluable resource for Alabama Chanin + Billy Reid as we tackled our challenging experiment in growing organic cotton in Alabama. She has worked for decades experimenting with colored cotton and researching pest-resistant strains of organic cotton through her company, FoxFibre.

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In the past, we have utilized Sally’s sturdy organic colored cotton for aprons, and we have maintained our relationship with her, as she is always innovating and looking for new perspectives on employing her fabrics. The cotton used for the organic chambray is grown on Sally’s farm in California, then spun, woven, and eco-finished in Japan. The black chambray that we use is dyed using a combination of steps including actual natural indigo and low-impact dyed indigo. The chambray drapes differently than our traditional organic cotton jersey, allowing us to experiment with new silhouettes and structures—creating patterns with a bit more structure and architectural features.

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Sylvia Dress

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Leighton Skirt

These chambray garments allow our design team to utilize more tailoring details and experiment with new shapes and techniques. The chambray pieces, like the Sylvia Dress and Leighton Skirt, are constructed using a combination of machine-sewn and hand-finished techniques, combining all aspects of our design and production methods. This woven fabric provides variance of texture and adds new facets when incorporated into appliqué. Our design team finds that it brings an interesting depth of surface dimension, adds interesting edges, and provides cohesion for this new collection.

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The quality of the chambray is remarkable—exquisite, fine cotton with a slight slub texture. It feels distinctive and luxurious. We are excited about this new offering and the diversity it brings to our collection. We invite you to explore our chambray garments— the Alexa Skirt, Leighton Skirt, Lee Dress, Sylvia Dress, and Valerie Dress—and look for more offerings in the future.

View our current Collection here.

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AIR LOVE

Natalie lived and worked as a stylist and filmmaker at the tail end of the 1990s before landing in New York to begin the great, big adventure that ultimately became Alabama Chanin. If you don’t know about Natalie’s journey, look back at this post, this post, and this post on our Journal and listen to 200 One-of-a-Kind Shirts at The Moth.

The German saying “Mann kann von luft und liebe leben” was a phrase she learned during this time as a stylist living abroad. It roughly translates to “one can live from air and love alone” or “nothing else in life is necessary but air and love”.

Those two words—air and love—were embroidered by Natalie many years ago onto a single rectangle of cotton jersey that was unearthed from our archives. More recently, the design hung on Natalie’s wall before emerging as our new Air Love Tee which features hand beading by local artisans applied onto an organic t-shirt, made by our Bldg. 14 team.

Be thankful for love (each breath of air).

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P.S.: A breatharian is a person who believes that it is possible, through meditation, to reach a level of consciousness where one can obtain all sustenance from the air or sunlight. While we don’t necessarily recommend taking up this lifestyle, we do believe that love can heal many things.

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THE NEW COLLECTION

Hello new Alabama Chanin Collection: new colors, new garment styles, new stencils and patterns, and—for the first time—a new organic chambray fabric. As always, we have styled our designs that these pieces work seamlessly alongside our classic silhouettes and new Core Essentials.

Black Walnut, Vetiver, and Tea Dye complement our current color scheme and can work beautifully as neutrals. The Tea Dye is created in-house using sustainable fabric dyeing practices.

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The organic chambray is milled in Japan, but comes to us courtesy of organic cotton pioneer Sally Fox. New garment styles include a full skirt, double-breasted dress, Mid-Length Coat, and a new style of crop top. The Sylvia Dress and Leighton Skirt are both made with the new chambray fabric and are hybrid garments, mixing machine- and hand-sewn components with beautifully tailored details.

(Pro tip: if you find the small color swatches on a garment page to be too small, we recommend scrolling down just a bit for a closer look at the embroideries.)

This collection also introduces the Lee Stencil, inspired by artist Lee Bontecou, who was a pioneer in the use of welded steel and fabric. She often created intricate drawings and sculptures that resembled black holes or voids. We see in her designs a combination of the natural world and technological growth—something relevant to fashion and to our own philosophies. Look for more information on Bontecou on our Journal soon. We’ll also be highlighting some of our favorite new styles in the coming days. In the meantime, view the new Collection here and learn all about our new website here.

As seasons change, you can always view the most current Collection here.

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SEPTEMBER SONG (AND ALABAMACHANIN.COM)

This September is shaping up to be a big month for us here at Alabama Chanin. Last week, we launched our brand spanking new website while Alabama Chanin—in its current structure—turned 11 years old. Today (the day after 9/11), Natalie celebrates another turn around the sun.

(Happy Birthday, Natalie…here’s to another big, beautiful year.)

And although it seems strange to celebrate this work in the midst of a pouring rain that is the last vestige of the deadly Irma, we’ve spent a year dreaming, working, tweaking, and living with our new site design. Whew. We’re proud parents and excited to celebrate these milestones, our team, and our artisans. So, in the midst of pouring rain, we hope you’ll find time to explore our bigger pictures, more information about our team and embroideries, more transparency about our fabrics and supply chain, and enjoy all of this from the device of your choice (desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone). Oh, and there’s a wish list too.

This week, we will share updates each day to highlight the new design and provide a roadmap for exploration.  (There’s also our new site map to help navigation.)

We’d like to thank photographers Rinne Allen and Abraham Rowe and stylist Susan Rowe for creating the beautiful imagery you see around the site.

Now, walk with us through the sections within our Shop (drum roll please):

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You’ll find the tried-and-true Alabama Chanin Collection under Collection—with brand new designs beside our classic core styles—and now also featuring organic wovens.

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Our previous Home and Table section, now called Cook + Dine, refocuses on our organic kitchen textiles, Heath Ceramics and Shelter Collection collaborations, and other artisan made products.

(Look for new Signature | Bridal Collection and Home sections later in the season.)

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About
In this section, we share all facets of our 17-year story.

Team
Learn more about Natalie’s background as a designer and meet each of our team members.

Supply Chain
Integral to our mission is an organic cotton supply chain—100% seed-to-shelf made in the USA. 

Artisan Embroidery
The work with our seamstresses is the core of our business model which supports economic development in our community.

Mission
Here’s why we do what we do.

Come back tomorrow as we highlight The Factory on AlabamaChanin.com, and on Thursday, The School of Making.

Give us a call if you have any questions: 256-760-1090.

P.S.: Several friends have asked how to help celebrate Natalie’s birthday. If you can, she asks that you make a small donation to the Global Giving Fund to benefit the victims of Harvey, Irma, or the Earthquake in Mexico (or the fund of your choice). Tell them she sent you.

Stay dry. Stay safe. Spread the love.
Xo from all of us @ Alabama Chanin

THE NEW ALABAMACHANIN.COM

In fashion, graphic design, art, architecture, and other creative mediums, designs evolve and change with time. The same is true for website design (and technology)—and with that idea in mind, today we are over-the-moon to announce the launch of the newly designed AlabamaChanin.com.

What began as a conversation about AlabamaChanin.com over a year and half ago, is realized today online.

Like any proud parent, this is something we’re really proud to share.

We want to thank all the team at Hugo & Marie—our website design and development team of over five years. They’ve created a beautiful place for us to call home while connecting to our global community.

Take a look around.

Use our Site Map to help find your way.

Tell us if there are any hiccups. We’ll be spending the next few days working through the kinks.

Tell us what you love. Tell us what we can do better.

Look at it on your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone (yes, it works there too).

Oh, and we’ve launched a new Collection too.

Navigate Alabama Chanin, The School of Making, The Factory, and Bldg. 14.

Happy Day. Happy Exploring.

xo from all of us @ Alabama Chanin

P.S.:  If you’re still having trouble navigating the site, email us at orders@alabamachanin.com or call us at 256-760-1090.

If you have frequented our site recently, we suggest refreshing your web browser’s cache to make sure you have the most up-to-date information from our site.

Visit this site to learn how.

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ACCESSORIES: ACCESSORIZE

Fashion accessories are one of the most effective ways for a wearer to add his or her personal style to an outfit. Over the years, traditional jewelry in gems and precious metals, bags, gloves, hats, stockings, even hair or tattoos have been used as some form of accessory—to define a “look” and express one’s mood or personality.

Jewelry and accessories have come to be associated with specific eras and places, and with individuals throughout history. Wealthy ancient Egyptians developed a taste for showier jewelry, using metals of all kinds and colorful stones and glass. They also created motifs that we still identify with their culture: scarabs, deities, sphinxes, and a variety of animals. Pre-revolution France was often all about bows, pearls, and later—cameos. (Josiah Wedgewood, of Wedgewood pottery, designed some of the first porcelain cameos to be used for jewelry). The Great Plague inspired jewelry referred to as memento mori, intended to remind the wearers and all who saw them of their own mortality. And much later, “love beads” and flower crowns became synonymous with the anti-war and hippie movements of the 1960s and 70s, and safety pins and spikes were adopted by early punk rockers.

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Cameo Ring and Edison Scarf

Iconic accessories are forever linked with entertainment and Hollywood Stars. Marilyn Monroe famously sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” while sporting the 24-carat “Moon of Baroda” diamond; Mad Men’s Joan Holloway was rarely seen without her gold pen necklace; Elizabeth Taylor’s massive jewelry collection was so impressive that she wrote a book about them; and Breakfast At Tiffany’s Holly Golightly (famously played by Audrey Hepburn) wore strands of Tiffany pearls in one of the most iconic movie images of all time.

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The Woven Necklace; Pictured with The Wrap Scarf, The Everyday Tunic, and The Wide-Leg Pant

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Cameo Rings and Necklace; Pictured above with the Edison Scarf and The Everyday Tunic

Alabama Chanin’s jewelry collection has its own unique sources of inspiration—including natural elements, our own embellishment and embroidery techniques, and inspiration from Anni Albers’ weaving—and now, Marcie McGoldrick’s Victorian-inspired porcelain-cast cameos (more about Marcie next week on the Journal). You can search all current accessories online in the Collection.

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SUMMER STYLING NOTES

Putting together an outfit can be a seamless task—or take a couple of tries to get the right combination. Today, we show you simple examples of how to pair and wear our latest Core Essentials.

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The Halter
Keep it simple by pairing The Halter (our newest style) with pants or a skirt in the same color.

From Top Left:
The Halter + The Crop Pant in Navy
Marcie Halter + The Crop Pant in Concrete
The Halter + The Crop Pant in White
Beck Halter + Alicia Skirt in Black Sylvan

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The Coverup
Our favorite pull-on style was updated earlier this summer with a short sleeve length option. This top is the perfect travel companion, lightweight and luxurious.

From Top Left:
The Coverup (Long Sleeve) in Concrete + The Rib Skirt in Concrete
The Coverup (Long Sleeve) in White + The Crop Pant in Concrete
The Coverup (Short Sleeve) in White + The Crop Pant in Navy
The Coverup (Short Sleeve) in Sunset + The Crop Pant in White

Find these and other Core Essentials in the Alabama Chanin Collection, alongside our hand-embroidered garments.

 

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SUNSET + SYLVAN + STRIPES

Sunset is the perfect balance of a bright and muted pink hue, making this color a customer favorite this summer. Introduced in our Core Essentials, Sunset is now available in our hand-embroidered Sylvan design with and without beaded details.

A selection of our Collection garments is crafted entirely by hand. Some pieces feature a combination of machine and hand sewing (as the Carly Dress and Lonnie Tunic above)—some are solely machine sewn in Bldg 14.

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The Lily Tee (pictured above with The Rib Skirt) and Josef Dress debuts in Sunset with stripes.

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Left: The Keyhole Tunic and The Rib Skirt; Right: Conner Skirt

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Lark Tee

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Left: The Coverup; Right: The Rib Crew and The Wide-Leg Pant

The Keyhole Tunic (shown above with cap sleeves) and The Coverup (shown in the sleeveless option above) were updated earlier this summer with new sleeve length options.

Explore the Collection to always find our updated designs and more.

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INTRODUCING BEADED SYLVAN

Sylvan was introduced in our Collection in April. The design reflects on a natural, pastoral world. Garments embellished with the Sylvan design are bold and yet delicate, combining components of nature with the beauty of the forest. We’ve added decorative elements by embroidering beads and sequins in various places on the garments. The moments glisten—much like morning dew on a leaf.

New styles include the Lola Top and Avery Skirt (pictured above), Victoria Coat, Lincoln Skirt, Beck Top, and Rhodes Tunic.

Find Sylvan in the Alabama Chanin Collection.

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Lincoln Skirt and The Crop Tee

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Victoria Coat with The Rib Dress

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Beck Top

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Rhodes Tunic

P.S.: Shoes courtesy of Maria Cornejo and Billy Reid.

View our current Collection here.

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CORE STYLES : NEW SIZE OFFERING

Garment sizing is an issue that all women contend with—and an issue we have had many conversations about here at Alabama Chanin. One of the key components of our book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns was instruction on how to customize garments to fit your unique body shape—whatever it may be.

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The Cocoon Cardigan and The Rib Dress

In an effort to expand our offerings, we have added the size XXL to our machine-made Core Essentials. Each piece is made from 100% organic lightweight rib knit or medium-weight jersey. These garments are meant to be year-round staples and can be easily integrated into your wardrobe and exist comfortably alongside our handmade and more embellished items. As with all of our machine-made garments, each piece is made to order.

View our machine-made basics, alongside our handmade pieces, here.

In the first image, from left to right: Caroline is 5’10” and wearing a size Small, Victoria is 5’4” and wearing a size Medium, and Maggie is 6’1” and wearing a size XXL in The Rib Dress.

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INTRODUCING SUNSET

What makes a pink sunset?

The colors of the sunset result from a phenomenon called scattering, a scientific term used to describe the reflection or re-direction of light by small particles. Scattering affects the color of light coming from the sky, but the details are determined by the wavelength of the light and the size of the particle.

It’s also noted that clean air is, in fact, the main ingredient common to brightly colored sunrises and sunsets.

Our newest Collection color, Sunset, is reminiscent of a desert sky at dusk with dusty rose, pale pink, and coral hues. Explore the Collection and find our Core Essential styles available in this color.

P.S.: Do your part and support environmental conservation organizations—like the Environmental Defense Fund or the Natural Resources Defense Council—that we can all continue to enjoy our sunsets and our Planet.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA/NWS)

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The Crop Tee and The Crop (Wide-Leg) Pant

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The Easy Dress

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The Everyday Dress

Shop our current Collection here.

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RINNE’S DRESS COLLECTION

Photographer and artist, Rinne Allen lives and works in Athens, Georgia (though she also travels the world taking pictures. Follow her on Instagram for a glimpse.) She is deeply committed to her community, having co-founded a children’s school for creative arts and working with the University of Georgia on special arts programming. It’s an understatement to say that she embraces collaboration. Her local work includes a book and blog with Rebecca Wood and Kristen Bach about Athens called Beauty Everyday along with collaborations with chefs, designers, and makers from Athens and beyond.

Taking yet another step into her community, Rinne photographed the Rinne’s Dress Collection on those whom she works with closely.

While we’re getting ready for a new collaboration with chef Ashley Christensen, we wanted to share one our favorites again—before we phase out this beautiful collection in two weeks. The basic version of the Rinne’s Dress will continue to be available for purchase from the Alabama Chanin Collection.

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Lucy Allen Gillis, Designer and Stylist; Field Trip

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Mandy O’Shea, Sustainable Farmer and Floral Designer; Moonflower Design and 3 Porch Farm

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Susan Hable, Artist and Designer; Hable Construction and Susan Hable Art

 

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COLLECTION: MORE SYLVAN

The Sylvan stencil is one of Alabama Chanin’s most intricate and involved yet—mimicking the details of its namesake (the woods). The design groups leaves, flowers, petals, and stems showcasing various embroidery stitches and techniques.

The Lark Tee and Liza Dress are machine-sewn garments that feature Sylvan hand embroidery, which adds depth and texture to the simple silhouettes. Sylvan styles are available in four colorways: Silver, Baby Blue, Concrete, and Black—each with unique thread and paint colors.

Find these styles and 100% hand-sewn garments that also feature Sylvan in the Alabama Chanin Collection.

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Left: Lark Tee; Right: Lark Tee and The Mid-Length Skirt

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Top: The Cocoon Cardigan and Liza Dress; Bottom: Liza Dress

View our current Collection here.

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KNOW YOUR BASICS: SKIRTS, PANTS, + DRESSES

Alabama Chanin’s Core Essentials have been around since 2013, beginning with a collection of hand-sewn basic styles. We mapped the evolution of those designs a few weeks ago on the Journal, and more recently shared a fit guide for our tops and tunics.

Today, we share a guide to our Core Essential skirts, pants, and dresses which fall in a price range from under $100 to just under $600.

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Know our process:

  • Each piece is made from Alabama Chanin organic cotton. We offer three different fabrics in various styles: lightweight rib (5 oz. per linear yard), medium-weight jersey (9.8 oz. per linear yard), and lightweight jersey (4.76 oz. per linear yard).
  • Every garment is designed and made in Alabama—right here in our Bldg. 14 production facility, which is housed in The Factory along with all of the Alabama Chanin Family of Businesses.
  • We practice lean manufacturing and every garment is made to order. By making each garment to order, we conserve our fabric, employee time, and do not end up with an over stock of unwanted items.

A few updates (for those of you who already have your favorites):

  • The Crop Pant and Edna Pant are now found in one place under The Wide-Leg Pant—with two length options.
  • The Sleeveless Rib Dress, The Short Sleeve Rib Dress, and The Long Sleeve Rib Dress are now found in one place under The Rib Dress—with three sleeve length options.
  • The Keyhole Dress now has a short sleeve option.

The guide below is a resource for fit, fabric notes, and features for each of the Core Essentials styles. Core Essentials evolve over the season with fresh colors and updated details—check back often.

P.S.: Our newest Collection offering, the Alabama Chanin Core Club represents a range of our Core Essentials—including The Rib Skirt, The Sleeveless Rib Dress, and The Easy Dress that are described below.

#alabamachanincoreclub
#knowyourbasics
#ownknitdressing

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INTRODUCING THE ALABAMA CHANIN CORE CLUB

The Alabama Chanin Core Club takes your wardrobe through spring, summer, and fall with our signature cotton jersey and rib-knit pieces. Delivering a selection of our favorite Core Essentials, the new offering from our Collection includes five styles bundled together in one shipment with over 20% savings.

ALABAMA-CHANIN---INTRODUCING-THE-ALABAMA-CHANIN-CORE-CLUB-2The featured styles include The Easy Dress, The Rib Skirt, The Rib Turtleneck, The Sleeveless Rib Dress, and The Elbow Scoop—each thoughtfully designed and ethically made in Alabama.ALABAMA-CHANIN---INTRODUCING-THE-ALABAMA-CHANIN-CORE-CLUB-3The styles complement one another and create opportunities for outfit building. Simplify and wear alone, layer them together, or combine with garments in your existing wardrobe.

Available in pre-selected Natural and Concrete hues, the color palette provides a neutral base to build on. The Frida Scarf add-on option offers classic Alabama Chanin hand embroidery with 50% savings.

Join the club here.

#alabamachanincoreclub
#knowyourbasics
#ownknitdressing

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INSPIRATION: ANNI ALBERS’ PANT SUIT

Anni Albers challenged artists to reject “recipes” and repetition and the safety of what they know will work. She encouraged artists to step away from formulaic making strategies, replacing them “with the adventure of new exploring.” Her life and work are a mirror for finding rich complexity and diversity within simplicity. The photograph of Anni above in her white pant suit exudes this elevated simplicity. Taken by her husband Josef Albers during a visit to Florida, it inspires me to get dressed for summer.

P.S.: Inspired by Anni’s outfit, we have created a wide-leg pant for the Collection in both full-length and cropped versions—made with Alabama Chanin’s 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey.

Image Credit: Anni Albers in Florida, circa 1938, photograph by Josef Albers © the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / ARS, NY

#womenartists

KNOW YOUR BASICS: TOPS + TUNICS

The idea for our current Core Essentials began in 2013 with a collection of hand-sewn basic styles. Last week, we mapped the evolution of those designs and you can read that history here.

Today, we share a guide to our Core Essential tops and tunics which fall in a price range from under $100 to just over $400.

Know our process:

  • Each piece is made from Alabama Chanin organic cotton. We offer three different fabrics in various styles: lightweight rib (5 oz. per linear yard), medium-weight jersey (9.8 oz. per linear yard), and lightweight jersey (4.76 oz. per linear yard).
  • Every garment is designed and made in Alabama—right here in our Bldg. 14 production facility, which is housed in The Factory along with all of the Alabama Chanin Family of Businesses.
  • We practice lean manufacturing and every garment is made to order. By making each garment to order, we conserve our fabric, employee time, and do not end up with an overstock of unwanted items.

A few updates (for those of you who already have your favorites):

  • The Rib Crew (long sleeve), Rib Tee (short sleeve), and Rib Shell (sleeveless) are now found in one place under The Rib Crew—with three sleeve length options.
  • The Sleeveless Scoop, The Elbow Scoop and The Scoop (long sleeve) are now found under The Scoop—with three sleeve length options.
  • The Coverup now has a short sleeve option.

The guide below is a resource for fit, fabric notes, and features for each of the Core Essentials styles. Core Essentials evolve over the season with fresh colors and updated details—check back often.
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ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - THE SCOOP

ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - THE RIB TURTLENECK

ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - HAND-SEWN FITTED TEE

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ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - THE COVERUP

ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - THE ALINE

ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - SPECIALTY TOPS

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ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - THE CROP TEE

ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - THE V-NECK TANK

ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - THE KEYHOLE TUNIC

ALABAMA CHANIN - KNOW YOUR BASICS - THE EVERYDAY TUNIC
#knowyourbasics
#ownknitdressing
#alabamachanincoreclub

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COLLECTION: ANNI ALBERS

“A longing for excitement can be satisfied without external means within oneself: For creating is the most intense excitement one can come to know.” – Anni Albers

Anni Albers, one of the original students trained at the Bauhaus school in Germany, was a true innovator in textile design. Though she worked as a multi-disciplinary artist, the bulk of her career centered on textiles, which she used as an experimental medium; she often used non-traditional and unusual materials in her weaving, like horsehair, metallic threads, hemp, plastic, and cellophane. She also moved freely between handwoven and industrial textile production—a strategy we also employ at Alabama Chanin.

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Traditional weavers have often created floral motifs or elaborate, decorative patterns, but Anni Albers focused on abstract visuals, organic shapes, and geometric forms. Her approach was revolutionary for the time and spurred a reexamination of textiles as an art form—in both their functional and decorative forms. Her use of straight lines and solid colors placed emphasis upon the importance of color usage and demonstrated that simple forms and shapes could be as expressive as an intricate design.

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Anni Tee

Our design team has created several new Core Essentials that draw direct inspiration from Anni Albers’ design thinking and best-known woven textiles. The Easy Dress (available in sleeveless and cap-sleeve versions) and the Crop Tee feature an Albers-inspired stripe motif. Other new introductions include The Everyday Tunic and Dress, with a side vent. All of the garments are designed for easy summer wear and made with our signature 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey.

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Left: The Easy Dress; Right: Lily Tee and The Rib Skirt

View our updated Collection for a look at the new garments, inspired by the life and work of Anni Albers.

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Top: Annelise Dress and The Lightweight Leggings; Bottom left: Lily Tee; Bottom Right: The Everyday Dress

View our current Collection here.

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INSPIRATION: SILVER

“Sail on, silver girl. Sail on by… Your time has come to shine; all your dreams are on their way.” – Simon and Garfunkel

Silver: a very malleable element that is capable of a high degree of polish. Its atomic number is 47 and its symbol on the periodic table of elements is Ag, from the Latin word argentum.

One of the seven metals of antiquity, silver was known by prehistoric man and was almost certainly used as a primitive form of money.

In Italian, silver is translated as argento; in Spanish it is plata; in Polish, srebro, and in Scottish Gaelic, airgid.

Silver and gold can form in star explosions, or supernovae; smaller stars produce silver, while large star explosions produce gold.

A powerful color, silver can supposedly bring mental, physical, and emotional harmony. It is associated with spirituality, introspection, illumination, and artistic endeavors. Silver is a link to the moon – to the ebb and flow of tides. In Islam, the Urdu word for silver is chandi, which means soft spoken and eloquent. In folklore, silver often has mystical powers and associations, offering protection from witches, werewolves, and monsters.

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Our Collection’s spring color palette has until now included Black, Concrete, Baby Blue, Natural, White, and the recently launched Navy. Silver is newest to the color card—another earthy, natural hue that complements its sister colors in tone and in mood. May it inspire your imagination and your meditations.

Explore the Collection and find embroidered and Core styles in our signature organic jersey, now also available in Silver.

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ALABAMA CHANIN COLLECTION: INTRODUCING SYLVAN

“Unto this wood I came as to a nest; dreaming that sylvan peace offered the harrowed ease—Nature a soft release from men’s unrest.” – Thomas Hardy

Sylvan: of the woods; bucolic; idyllic; a mythical spirit of the forest

Deriving from Medieval Latin, Sylvanus—one who frequents the woods. Sylvanus is a Roman god of the woods and fields, sometimes identified with the Greek god, Pan.

The Sylvan stencil is derived from Victorian flower drawings, which idealized rustic and seasonal settings.

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Claude Cocoon, The Rib Dress

Garments embellished with the Sylvan stencil combine the elements of our current earthy color palette with a pastoral point-of-view. They are bold and yet delicate; decorative, but not too precious—a combination of the raw components of nature with the refined beauty of the forest.

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Left: Lovelace Cardigan, The Shell, The Pull-on Skirt; Right: Rosanne Coat

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Conner Skirt

Shop the entire Collection—all thoughtfully made in our studio and community in The Shoals—now with these new additions.

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Left: The Cocoon; Right: The Cocoon Cardigan, Gaia Dress

P.S.: We have also created two notable new layering pieces: the hand-sewn Cocoon and machine-sewn Cocoon Cardigan that will carry you easily from spring into summer. Look for a more elaborate, hand-embroidered Cocoon, the Claude Cocoon, which features the Sylvan design.

ALABAMA-CHANIN – SPRING-OUTERWEAR

SPRING OUTERWEAR: THE CAPE + THE TRENCH

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” – Mark Twain

We’ve got spring fever – and the Alabama Chanin Collection has recently debuted styles that feature clean lines for spring weather.

The Trench: the perfect candidate to stand up to April’s unpredictable weather. Constructed from our signature organic cotton jersey, The Trench will protect you from the elements while ensuring breathability and ease of movement.

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The Cape: a dignified and unique silhouette. With a double-snap closure at the neck and openings at the elbow, this piece moves seamlessly through chilly mornings and sunny afternoons.

Both pieces are what we call “hybrid” garments, meaning they were constructed by machine from our studio and by hand by our artisans, all in our community of The Shoals. Both of these pieces feature classic topstitching and gunmetal snaps.

Explore more outerwear in the Alabama Chanin Collection.

View the current Collection here.

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SPRING COLLECTION UPDATES

There’s more in store this spring, as the current Collection evolves—with the introduction of new styles, a new color, Navy, and a new stencil design. We continue to love Frida, and introduce more embroidered designs in Baby Blue and Concrete colorways. With a bold floral pattern, our newest stencil design complements the delicate Frida embroidery. Learn about each of our latest updates below and find your new favorite in our Collection.

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Left: The Moto Jacket, The Rib Dress; Right: The Rib Crew, The Rib Skirt

New Color: Navy
Our Core basic styles are now available in a dark blue shade. Our color palette looks like this for spring: Black, Navy, Concrete, Baby Blue, Natural, and White.

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Left: The Kate Cardigan, The Shell, The Mid-Length Skirt

New Skirts: The Pull-on Skirt + The Mid-Length
We’re expanding our Core skirt styles. The Everyday Long Skirt and Pencil Skirt, part of our current offerings, are both classic and timeless designs. The Pull-on Skirt and The Mid-Length Skirt build on these great-fitting styles and offer more variation in length, fit, and details with updated wide elastic waistbands. The Pull-on flares slightly at the bottom, while the Mid-Length has a straighter fit and hand-sewn details at the pockets and a front split.

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The Moto Jacket, The Rib Crew

The Lane Skirt and Linden Skirt are embroidered versions of The Pull-on and Mid-Length Skirts that feature our Frida design.

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The Cape, The Crop Tee, The Lightweight Leggings

New Spring Outerwear: The Cape + The Trench
The Trench and The Cape­­­­ fill out our coat and jacket selections. They are what we call “hybrid” garments with both machine-constructed and hand-sewn details. The Cape has a unique, paneled design with openings at the elbows, deep pockets, and an open front for graceful movement. It snaps at the collar and is fitted across the shoulders, making it a notable layering piece.

The Trench features classic trench coat details like a deep back yoke, double-breasted front, vent at the back, and gun flap. The collar is lined with organic canvas.

ALABAMA CHANIN - SPRING COLLECTION UPDATES 6

The Crop Tee and The Lane Skirt

New Top: The Crop Tee
The Crop Tee is made with our medium-weight jersey, taking a classic tee shirt fit and abbreviating its length. It is casual, comfortable and perfect for styling with a high-waist skirt or pants. This classic crop has a relaxed fit, short sleeves, and a crew neckline.

ALABAMA CHANIN - SPRING COLLECTION UPDATES 7

The Keyhole Tunic and Roan Skirt

New Stencil
The form-flattering Rib Dress and Rib Skirt are updated with a new graphic, floral pattern that is hand-stenciled on the fabric.

Browse our current Collection.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE GARMENTS - OUR MANUFACTURING MODEL 1

NEW CORE GARMENTS + OUR MANUFACTURING MODEL

We’re launching an expanded collection of core garments today and also updating our manufacturing model for these garments. Conserving natural resources is at the core of our mission statement. This means balancing our supply chain with lean method manufacturing in order to deliver the best possible product to our customers.  Every day we look for better ways to reduce and even eliminate waste in our production process. This helps us operate our business in a lean, sustainable manner as we continually search for ways to utilize every fabric scrap and only produce what is needed.

All of our hand-sewn collection garments are made after the order is confirmed. When we began machine manufacturing in 2014, we produced our machine-sewn garments in small batches. We are updating this process, and starting today, we will also make our machine-sewn garments to order. This will enable us to make the most sustainable use of our fabric. We understand that our culture is currently obsessed with immediate gratification—and that we want to wear our new garments as soon as possible—and at the same time, we also want to protect the precious resources the earth has to offer. So with this update, we’re hoping to find the balance between both. If you have any questions, give us a call at 256.760.1090 or email office (at) alabamachanin.com.

Today we’re rolling out updated rib styles under this new process. All our rib tops are fitted through the body and made of a soft and comfortable lightweight rib fabric.

THE SCOOP SERIESALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE GARMENTS - OUR MANUFACTURING MODEL 3

We’ve updated The Scoop with a lightweight trim along a feminine neckline that is open, but not too revealing. The sleeves are long and hit past the wrist. We introduce new elbow-length and sleeveless versions as well.

THE RIB SERIES
ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE GARMENTS - OUR MANUFACTURING MODEL 2

We’ve streamlined our rib tops and offer three versions of The Rib Crew: The Rib Shell, The Rib Tee, and The Rib Crew. Each of these styles has feminine details with lightweight trim along the neckline, sleeve, and bottom hem. The sleeves on The Rib Crew are long and hit past the wrist.

Find each of these new styles in our Collection and mix and match with the rest of our Core Essentials.

View our current Core Essentials Collection here.

ALABAMA CHANIN - RINNES DRESS COLLECTION 1

THE RINNE’S DRESS COLLECTION

One of the most fantastic things about surrounding yourself with creative people is that you are constantly inspired and challenged to look at ideas through new and ingenious lenses. Rinne Allen, a frequent collaborator, is someone who has a special skill for capturing moments—details that other people may not see. This quality has made our work with her singular and special.

ALABAMA CHANIN - RINNES DRESS COLLECTION 2

In addition to her obvious talents, Rinne has her own inimitable sense of style derived from her carriage and demeanor, paired with that unique spirit and artist’s eye. When inspired to do so, she occasionally customizes garments she owns to fit her lifestyle and meet her day-to-day needs. This is how Rinne created one of our favorite dresses of hers: part vintage bodice, part well-worn Billy Reid dress. She describes its origins in this way: “I bought the Billy [Reid] dress 11 or 12 years ago… and I wore it so much that I kind-of wore it out! I have a bunch of vintage dresses that I have found over the years that I love, and I decided to ask a friend to make me a new dress using the parts of the Billy [Reid] dress that I loved—the full skirt—and a vintage dress that I liked—the bodice and banded collar. And I added pockets because, well, I love pockets.”

ALABAMA CHANIN - RINNES DRESS COLLECTION 3

Rinne seems to have an untapped talent as a clothing designer because she can look at the clothes in her closet and have a vision for something more. A tweak here and a tuck there—and she has a fully customized wardrobe. “I do sew a bit and it started there, but I also know people who can sew much better than me and they are patient and help me with some of my ideas. I grew up wearing vintage clothes—and still do—and I think that helped me appreciate things that are unique; understanding sewing made me want to make things myself, once I learned what fits me well. I like functional clothes because I move around a lot and I’m outside a lot for work, so my clothes need to be tough and comfortable. But I also like things that are a little bit feminine, too. And I really do need pockets on most everything.”

ALABAMA CHANIN - RINNES DRESS COLLECTION 4

Today we are launching what we (naturally) call the Rinne’s Dress Collection, designed in collaboration with Rinne and modeled after her style and that very special hybrid dress. The Rinne Dress has a fitted bodice that snaps up to a mock collar and has a ¾-length sleeve option that snaps at the cuff (on select styles) and can be rolled up or down. The full, pleated skirt sits at the natural waist and opens to a generous width at the hip. And, of course, it could never truly be a Rinne-inspired dress without generous pockets tucked in the skirt’s pleats and folds.

ALABAMA CHANIN - RINNES DRESS COLLECTION 5

This collaboration also includes a stencil inspired by her Light Drawings. For more information about Rinne, visit her website—or read back on our Journal.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CORE HIGHLIGHT

CORE BASICS: YEAR-ROUND STYLES

In an introduction to her third book, Natalie writes, “I want to dress women like me, modern women who may not have perfect bodies or stylists to help them make wardrobe choices but who want to make their way through their busy lives with beauty and grace, who want to sustain valuable traditions and live in beautiful clothing as an accessory to their big and beautiful lives.”

Last week, we added new core basic styles to our current Collection. These pieces are designed to fold seamlessly into your current wardrobe and are sustainably made with organic cotton. Some are variations of already-popular garments (like the Keyhole Tunic and Rib Dress). These pieces are intended to be year-long staples. We love layering our machine-sewn garments and hand-embroidered pieces.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CORE HIGHLIGHT

The Crop Pant is ideal for chilly mornings and warm afternoons all in one day—consider wearing it with riding boots in the winter or saddle shoes in the spring.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CORE HIGHLIGHT

Simple and classic, The Short Sleeve Rib Dress is made with organic cotton rib-knit. This dress has a very flattering fit and features details like side slits and accented trim.

Find these styles and other featured pieces in our Collection.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE BASICS

NEW CORE BASICS

Donna Karan’s approach to design has been a recurring topic of conversation on our Journal and an ongoing source of design inspiration for Natalie. From a 2012 Journal post:

Karan became a presence in the fashion world as the women’s rights movement found its footing in the 1970s and women began working in the business world in greater numbers. Most designers didn’t know how to dress this burgeoning new population of professionals. You saw women dressed in double-breasted suits with tight skirts, wide shoulders, and, often, pin stripes. Virginia Slims adverts of the time showed images of women in suits – straight, lean, no curves, nothing womanly at first glance. The models could easily have been men. 

“Donna Karan changed that. She cut clothes that she would want to wear, that fit her own lifestyle as a designer and businesswoman….Under the Donna Karan label, she took a thoughtful approach to women’s professional dress. She famously created a wardrobe base for the professional woman, which she called “Seven Easy Pieces.” It included pieces that women could easily mix and match for any number of occasions.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE BASICS

With the same thoughtful approach, we introduce new core basic styles to our current Collection.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE BASICS

We’ve added a three-quarter sleeve option to our Keyhole Dress and Keyhole Tunic. This a-line style flows nicely and has a key-hole detail at the neckline. It also features side-seam pockets, deep enough to fit a set of keys or other small objects.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE BASICS

Our Wide-Leg Pants are now offered in a cropped version: The Crop Pant. This wide-leg style of pants is introduced as warmer weather approaches. These pants are fun, casual, and have a comfortable fit.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE BASICS

The Moto Jacket and The Moto Coat feature darts at the bust and snap closures at the cuffs. The jacket hits at the hip, while the coat has a dramatic length.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW CORE BASICS

Our newest cardigan, The Kate Cardigan, is an open-front jacket meant for everyday wear. And our newest machine-sewn core style is The Short Sleeve Rib Dress, which has a new sleeve length variation in addition to the sleeveless and long sleeve options.

Find our current styles, along with other core basics and featured pieces, in our Collection.

ALABAMA CHANIN - SIGNATURE BRIDAL COLLECTION

SIGNATURE | BRIDAL COLLECTION

The Alabama Chanin Signature | Bridal Collection features a range of dresses, skirts, tops, and accessories for special occasions, for the bride and her wedding party, and for black-tie events. Our organic cotton jersey garments are hand crafted and modern—and offer sustainable options for everyday elegance. While many of our garments are created with simplicity in mind, they also feature intricate hand-beading and embroidery.

ALABAMA CHANIN - SIGNATURE BRIDAL COLLECTION

The Signature | Bridal Collection is available in a range of colors. Consider any of our garments for evening or formal wear with a Black fabric option on select styles.

ALABAMA CHANIN - SIGNATURE BRIDAL COLLECTION

If you are interested in placing a custom order or arranging a personal fitting at The Factory, please email shop (at) alabamachanin.com.

P.S.: You can also schedule a private appointment and work with our experienced sales team on-site at The Factory to design a custom-made dress for your special event. Our skilled team and artisans make the highest quality, one-of-a-kind garments from our organic cotton fabric. Give us a call at 256.760.1090 M – F from 8am – 4:30pm CST.

Pictured above:

  1. Adrienne Wrap, The Corset, Camellia Skirt
  2. Guinevere Dress
  3. Fleur Tunic/Kennedy Dress/Antheia Skirt
  4. Stella Jacket, Elena Skirt, Adrienne Wrap, Lillian Coat, Madelyn Skirt, Gabriella Skirt, Amelia Skirt, Camellia Skirt, Avery Corset, Peyton Skirt, Charlotte Coat
  5. Donovan Coat, Long A-Line Dress
  6. Antheia Skirt
  7. Margot Tunic/Donovan Coat

INSPIRATION: FRIDA’S GARDEN

Among many recurring subjects in Frida Kahlo’s artwork are flowers, foliage, and fruits. She used this imagery to celebrate Mexican history and culture. The garden at her home, Casa Azul, was first started by her parents and was filled with ivy, roses, and apricot and orange trees. As an adult, Frida and her husband Diego Rivera were ardent and active participants in the Mexican Revolution and sought to celebrate Mexican culture in a number of ways—through dress, through food, and through their home and garden.

Frida and Diego transformed Casa Azul from its original colonial style into a structural embodiment of their cultural values. They painted the house in its signature blue called azul anil (believed to ward off evil spirits) and expanded the courtyard and gardens. They also incorporated native Mexican plants like agave, yucca, dahlias, cacti, and bougainvillea into their garden. Over time, elements from the garden would make their way into her portraits and still life paintings. “I paint flowers so they will not die,” she once said. Frida also created elaborate arrangements of flowers throughout their home and almost always wore flowers, woven through her hair.

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: FRIDA'S GARDEN

 

At Casa Azul, Frida’s bedroom and studio were connected via a hallway that opens onto the garden. Toward the end of her life, Frida asked to have her bed moved into the hallway so that she could look out over her garden. Take a virtual tour of Frida’s Casa Azul gardens here. They are stunning.

P.S.: The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, planted a green space in tribute to Kahlo’s as part of the current exhibition, Frida Kahlo at the Dalí, which runs through April 17.

And if you haven’t had a chance, visit our Journal for a series of posts about Frida, including:

Frida Kahlo’s Dress
Inspiration: Frida’s Dress
Frida’s Fiestas
A New Collection: Frida

Image of Frida in her garden from NBC News.

#womenartists

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: FRIDA'S DRESS

INSPIRATION: FRIDA’S DRESS

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality” – Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo’s perspective on dress was unique, in that she was able to express her political and feminist views using traditional Tehuana-style Mexican garments. Many believe that she chose this style of dress at the request of her partner, Diego Rivera, as a way to reflect their populist, socialist political perspectives—but early family photos show that Frida had worn Tehuana costumes since her girlhood.

Possibly she re-embraced the style of dress as a way to conceal her physical impairments and realized that her dress was also a statement of Mexicanidad—a celebration of her indigenous culture. It is telling that she adopted the traditional dress of the Tehuantepec—a matriarchal society—as a way to exert her own personhood and opinions. It is no coincidence that her style of dress was symbolic of a powerful Mexican woman.

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: FRIDA'S DRESS

Frida played with color and texture, combining traditional floor-length skirts, square-cut huipil blouses, and traditional embroideries with lace and ribbon trim and bright fabrics imported from Europe—creating a true signature style.

Visit our Collection for revolving artist inspiration.

P.S.: The inspiration board above also includes images and inspiration from British Textiles 1700 to the Present by Linda Parry, American Snapshots by Robert E. Jackson (and don’t miss the Instagram account here), Christian Dior by Francoise Giroud and Sacha Van Dorssen, tear sheets from Vogue Magazine, a men’s shirt design from Comme des Garçons, an image from photographer Paul Graves, and a slew of others who inspire every day.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW COLLECTION + WEBSITE UPDATES

A COLLECTION INSPIRED BY FRIDA KAHLO

Welcome to the new year. In the spirit of the fresh start a new year brings, we present a new Collection.

About the Collection

During the summer of 2016 on the Journal, we started an artist series that profiled female artists and designers like Frida Kahlo, Louise Nevelson, Clarie McCardell, Sonia Delaunay, and Anni Albers. Each of these women was actively making and designing during the first half of the 20th century and has paved the way for women today who work in these industries. While we explored their work, we also examined their own personal styles.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW COLLECTION + WEBSITE UPDATES

Frida Kahlo’s way of dress stood out to us, as it is evident in her self-portraits. Her richly embroidered garments were modified versions of traditional Mexican clothing and acted to reflect her feelings about femininity, politics, and her own body.

A series of garments in our Collection are inspired by the elaborate embroidery from Frida’s dresses. We introduce them alongside favorite designs, like our Rib Dresses and Flora pattern, that carry over into the Collection.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW COLLECTION + WEBSITE UPDATES

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW COLLECTION + WEBSITE UPDATES

P.S.: We will continue to highlight artist Frida Kahlo on the Journal this month, in a series of posts about her work, style, and cooking. Be sure to check back.

View our current Collection here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

2016: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Some years fly by and others seem to drag on forever; 2016 kept us at a steady pace at Alabama Chanin. We have been able to focus on refining our methods and more deeply developing our different avenues of work—from the design team to workshops to collections and collaborations. It is possible that 2017 could be a year of major transition across our country, so before life gets more hectic, we would like to look back and appreciate what we accomplished in the past year.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

We added an important member to our design team, Erin Reitz, who brings a fresh point of view and is helping us expand our way of thinking about design. In addition to her work as a designer, Erin and her business partner Kerry Speake own The Commons, a Charleston-based shop selling American-made home goods. Through The Commons, the two developed their own line of tableware called The Shelter Collection. We partnered with their team to create The Shelter Collection @ Alabama Chanin and we think it works perfectly alongside our collaborative collection with Heath Ceramics.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

In May, we launched Collection #30. Our ongoing partnership with Nest helped us understand how to best integrate our machine-made garments into our larger collection, and we folded our basics, essentials, machine-made, and handmade garments together into one cohesive group. The collection featured Coral, Maize, and Pink color stories, highlighted Art Nouveau-style floral embroideries, and included an expanded selection of our popular new knitwear pieces. We also introduced new garments, including updated tunics, jackets, and pants. Our collection of home goods also expanded, with new selections in canvas and more machine-sewn kitchen textiles.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

As part of The School of Making, last year we launched the Host a Party program that offered our DIY customers the opportunity to organize their own sewing parties for friends and family. The positive feedback we received allowed us to expand our offerings for the upcoming year. In 2016, we also began our Build a Wardrobe subscription service, which released four new garment patterns to participants—one each quarter. The program’s goal is to help to makers expand their handmade, sustainable wardrobes based on each individual’s personal style. This coming year, Build a Wardrobe features the Factory Dress, Car Coat, Wrap Dress, and Drawstring Pant/Skirt; subscribers can join at any point in the year.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

We also launched a collaboration with Spoonflower—a North Carolina-based web company that allows individuals to design, print, and sell their own fabrics—that allowed us to create custom Alabama Chanin organic cotton jersey. The first run of our limited-edition, pre-printed fabric sold out almost immediately, but look for more printed offerings to cycle in and out.

As part of our expanded workshop offerings, Alabama Chanin hosted its first workshop abroad, at Chateau Dumas in Auty, France. In addition to our sewing curriculum, we were able to explore ornate interiors and architecture, shop at unique markets, and experience woad dyeing for the first time. The weeklong event was picturesque, and we hope to be able to offer another similar event soon.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

The Friends of the Café Dinner series continued to expand with dinners co-hosted by Sean Brock, Adam Evans, Rodney Scott, and Frank Stitt. The 2017 season has already been announced.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Recognizing that our team is a top priority, we continued to invest in our staff this year through special staff development programs and updated policies that encourage everyone to have a work-life balance. We use Zingerman’s and Patagonia as examples to create a company culture that is conducive, not only to our employees but to the community and environment. From documenting our processes to ensuring that our information is open source and accessible company-wide, we work to preserve the stories, methods, and history of the company while making way for new ideas and improved ways of doing.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

There is so much in store for Alabama Chanin in 2017. We hope that—if you have not already—you will sign up for our mailing list and newsletter and follow along on social media for updates. Wishing all of you a safe New Year, filled with love, care, hope, and empathy.

P.S. – The grids shown here are a gallery of the promotional postcards our team made for The Factory and images of various events and programs over the course of the year. What a great year—and so much to look forward to in 2017.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN INSTAGRAM: @ALABAMACHANIN

THE YEAR IN INSTAGRAM: @ALABAMACHANIN

This year was a busy and productive year for all of our divisions at Alabama Chanin. The School of Making and The Factory teams worked hard to introduce new and expanded programming for our customers. Our design team launched new home items and Collection #30, which produced some of our most intricate and beautiful garments yet.

It was a year of change with new team members, office rearranging, organizing, goal setting (and exceeding), and a lot of personal and professional growth along the way. We’re proud of our team, and we’re grateful to do what we do every day. We look forward to the fresh start a new year brings, and we hope you’ll continue to follow along on our journey.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN INSTAGRAM: @ALABAMACHANIN

Follow us on Instagram to see our design and production studio, Building 14 manufacturing facility, new garments and products, what inspires us, and more. And check back on the Journal tomorrow for a full recap of our year.

Happy New Year to all,
xoNatalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin

NEW RIB DRESSES

This season, we’ve launched new additions to our Collections that include our recent Holiday garments; we’ve also incorporated styling rib-knit basics, socks, and scarves. Today we announce two more styles that will complete our Collection for 2016.

Our Madison and Piper Dresses introduce a hand-stenciled Flora design to our form-flattering Sleeveless and Long Sleeve Rib Dresses. The black silhouette is accented by a brown trim along the neckline and hems and a gold iridescent paint.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW RIB DRESES

You’ll recognize this hand-stenciled design in a few other garments and accessories, including the Flora Wrap Scarf, Erin Crew, and Laurel Skirt.

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW RIB DRESSESPictured Here: Flora Wrap Scarf, Nadene Jacket, The Rib Skirt

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW RIB DRESSESPictured here: Douglas Top, Laurel Skirt, Shortie Stripe Socks

ALABAMA CHANIN - NEW RIB DRESSESPictured here: Erin Crew and The Rib Skirt

View our current Collection here.

THE BEST SOCKS (+ SCARVES)

Today, we’re introducing two new designs for our Stripe Tall and Stripe Shortie Socks. We’ve been working with Little River Sock Mill—who manufactures in Alabama—since 2014 to produce designs exclusively for Alabama Chanin. All of their socks are quality made from a blend of organic cotton, nylon, and elastic—providing amazing comfort and great fit.

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Our new designs mix bold color blocks and detailed stripes. Whichever you choose, they are guaranteed to be the most comfortable socks you’ve ever worn. We promise.

Use accessories like these socks and our organic cotton scarves to build on to classic style. Below are a few of our favorite current looks, combining our series of Rib and Placket garments.

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Pictured here: Flora Wrap Scarf, Edison Wrap Scarf, Nadene Jacket, The Rib Turtleneck, The Lightweight Leggings, and a Cotton Jersey Pull

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Pictured here: Flora Wrap Scarf, Meaghan Dress, The Lightweight Leggings, and Stripe Shortie Socks

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Pictured here: The Rib Tee, The Keyhole Dress, Beaded Lace Scarf, The Slim Scarf, and a Cotton Jersey Pull

HOLIDAY COLLECTION: IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

The newest additions the Alabama Chanin Collection have intricate hand beading and hand embroidery for any special occasion. Choose your look. Style it up.

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THE KENNEDY DRESS

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THE EVELYN TUNIC

alabama-chanin-holiday-collection-4

THE DONOVAN COAT

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THE DOROTHY CARDIGAN

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THE DYLAN CREW

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THE BEADED LACE MAYA PONCHO

P.S.: Some of our machine-sewn core pieces are pictured in multiple looks above, including The Rib Turtleneck, The Rib Skirt, The Long Sleeve Rib Dress, and The Sleeveless Rib Dress.

ALABAMA CHANIN - CREATIVE PROCESS ERIN REITZ

CREATIVE PROCESS: ERIN REITZ

Journal followers are likely familiar with one of the newer faces on our design team: Erin Reitz (née Connelly), who we have featured recently. Erin and business partner Kerry Clark Speake are co-founders of The Commons, a Charleston, South Carolina-based shop that sells high quality, local, and American-made housewares. In addition to the work at The Commons, Erin and Kerry also collaborate with talented artisans to create their own collection of glassware and hand-thrown ceramics: The Shelter Collection. (And we’re also working on a glassware collaboration, which will be out this holiday season.)

But, Erin’s design skills extend beyond the arena of home goods. She also has extensive design experience creating garments and accessories. Before opening The Commons, she attended New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and interned with designer Nanette Lepore, before going on to work with brands like Anne Klein, Ann Taylor, Levi Strauss & Co., and Eddie Bauer. Though a key member of the Alabama Chanin design team, Erin’s home base is in Charleston, where she resides with her husband (and Alabama Chanin collaborator) Brooks Reitz.

ALABAMA CHANIN - CREATIVE PROCESS ERIN REITZ

As part of our continuous exploration into the creative process, we were interested in finding out what spurs creativity in someone who has worked at all ends of the spectrum—from a large corporation, to her own independent craftwork.  We are also excited to share what we are learning about Erin and her creative point-of-view through our work together.

(This project is made possible in-part by a fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.)

ALABAMA CHANIN - CREATIVE PROCESS ERIN REITZ

Alabama Chanin: Do you have to be in a certain mood in order to create?

Erin Reitz: For me to be truly creative, yes. I have been a designer for so long in the commercial retail environment that I am able to create on demand. I can quickly design clothing to fit the need. But I almost see this as creative problem solving rather than an artistic creativity. Considering all your parameters, and coming up with the best solution.

When I am truly creative, it feels like an entirely different state of mind. I will get lost in a story in my head, with an incredible rush of energy and optimism. This usually comes in distinct waves when I am well rested (or drinking coffee) and when some piece of new inspiration has come up. Either from traveling, or discovering a new artist, or even just taking a walk and smelling something new…then I can be triggered into creating a concept. When I am in this mode, it feels similar in my mind to being lost in a book; I can feel it so deeply from many angles.

The best feeling is when you can find a creative partner to express these thoughts to without them losing their power once you have said them out loud. I feel this deeply with my partner in The Commons, Kerry Speake. And Natalie and I have an immediate comfort, where I feel like I can say the weirdest thing that has just popped into my brain, and she fully listens and responds like we are in the same place.

AC: Nature or nurture? Do you imagine creativity is part of human nature or must it be learned?

ER: I think it is probably both. But there are people who feel more comfortable operating from their right brain, where you have fewer constraints with facts and more potential to alter perceptions.

AC: Creativity for me is ______________________.

ER: Creativity for me is the juiciest part of life.

AC: How do you define success?

ER: True expression.

creative-process-1

AC: If your creative process or project isn’t productive, at what point do you cut your losses? Or is there a point? Do you keep pressing on?

ER: I think you cut your losses if you have lost interest. But as long as you still feel like you’re walking a path that resonates with your initial intention then PRESS ON!

AC: What parts of your work seem the “heaviest” and the “lightest”?

ER: The lightest parts are in the beginning, when the first flash of the idea comes. And it seems like connections are popping all over your brain. The idea and story feels like it has no boundaries. There are so many ways to interpret the shape you’re inspired by, so many materials and techniques that could achieve the texture or color, and so many meanings that you can portray through one simple idea. I love tying these ideas together, building a wall of images, and sketching into the defining principles of that idea.

The heaviest part is selling it.

AC: What parts of your imagination seem the “heaviest” and the “lightest”?

ER: This is my favorite question.

The lightest are the visual components. Seeing something inspiring and beginning to link it to ideas. When I am in the space in my brain that feels limitless and hopeful. When I am romancing myself with the idea and creating the fantasy around it.

The heaviest is the fear of executing the idea. Where there are boundaries everywhere…What if it doesn’t work? What if I can’t find that material? What if I can’t make a reality what I see in my head? And then, even worse—if this is an idea I want to sell – what if it doesn’t? It is all tied together and weighed down by fear.

Luckily the light side usually greatly outweighs the heavy side!

ALABAMA CHANIN - CREATIVE PROCESS ERIN REITZ

AC: Does spirituality play a role in your creativity?

ER: Yes! To stay creative I need to work at creating the empty spaces in my mind, so I have space to wonder. Meditation has been a key part of this for me for a long time. Always looking for the “right path” – and I don’t think you can find that unless you have some quiet in your mind regularly. That really helps to steer my mind away from listening to the fearful voices as well.

Lately I have discovered that exercise is equally important to this as meditation. I’ve finally realized the connection to a strong body and strong mind. And how much easier it is to walk that path you’re trying to create when you can literally walk with strength and ease.

AC: If you had to start over, would you choose a different path in your career?

ER: I have always had a fantasy of being a museum curator. I LOVE collections. I find it so pleasurable to make esoteric links between things…invisible strings tying a group together. But I also know that is why I love clothing: connecting a group in ways that are obvious to people, and ways that no one may ever know.

ALABAMA CHANIN - CREATIVE PROCESS ERIN REITZ

SUNSHINE

Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you.” – Walt Whitman

We’re always looking toward the sunshine.

(Pictured here: The Collier Tank, combining hand and machine sewn.)

A CHANIN TO COLLECTION: PART 2

Collection #30 was introduced—with the thought to combine machine- and hand-made pieces into the same line—as these garments are created using the same production processes, the same fabric, the same design team, and the same approach.

From a design and development point-of-view, we now see that there should have never been a separation of the collections. We are creatively drawn to combine both hand and machine sewing in one garment. By keeping A. Chanin separate from our Alabama Chanin collection, we were placing arbitrary rules for ourselves—and those rules became restrictive.

ALABAMA CHANIN – A. CHANIN TO COLLECTION: PART 2

With this new freedom, we are now allowing ourselves to combine machine and hand sewing into single items—as shown here on our new Collier Tank and Davy Racerback. You will see increased versatility and design flexibility. A. Chanin will continue to exist, but with an entirely new function: as organic blanks and basics that companies can purchase for screen printing and private label collections.

INSPIRATION: FLORA

“The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him.” – Auguste Rodin

Inspired by both the organic and geometric, artists of the Art Nouveau movement celebrated the graceful forms of nature by using flowing, curving lines in their creations.

They believed that all types of art were equally important, and focused on crafting beautiful and expertly made objects, from the decorative to the utilitarian.

ALABAMA CHANIN - INSPIRATION - PHOEBE TOP AND ANTHEIA SKIRT 2

Art Nouveau was often finely detailed, yet used flat perspectives inspired by Japanese wood block prints—a combination that created a very recognizable style.

Part of Collection #30, these hand-sewn and hand-embroidered pieces feature a floral pattern that resembles Art Nouveau. A double layer of 100% organic, medium-weight cotton jersey is embellished with glass bugle beads and sequins that lend the surface texture and intricacy.

HOW WE MAKE THINGS: CAST FABRIC CUFF

While we are known for our elaborate hand-sewn, hand-embellished garments, collaboration has long been an integral part of our philosophy. My cousin’s family owns MTM Recognition in Princeton, Illinois, where they make an array of hand-made jewelry pieces produced by skilled craftsmen. When the opportunity to create jewelry together came up, the idea of capturing the texture of cotton jersey fabric and the detail of hand embroidery into a bracelet felt like a natural addition to the Alabama Chanin line. The Cast Fabric Cuff was designed with our hand-sewn, heirloom garments in mind.

ALABAMA CHANIN-HOW-WE-MAKE-THINGS-CAST-FABRIC-CUFF-2

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COLLECTION: DENIM

As part of her first job in the fashion industry, Natalie spent a good bit of time in sample rooms—some of them denim sample rooms where new styles of blue jeans were being made every day. She remembers that the sample sewers, who were primarily from Spanish-speaking households, always referred to the yellow/orange thread used to stitch denim as “orinda”—and has used this term for the yellow-orange thread since then. Looking back, she imagines that the term came from the Spanish word “oro”, meaning “gold”.

So, we started wondering: why exactly is most denim stitched using that specific golden thread? The most common story suggests that the practice was started by Levi Strauss & Co., and was directly related to the addition of rivets to jeans.

(But, the story can’t be confirmed because most of the Levi Strauss company records were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.)

ALABAMA CHANIN – COLLECTION: DENIM

In the late 1800s, Jacob Davis came up with the idea of adding rivets to jeans to reinforce stress points, like the back pockets and the crotch—which were often torn or frayed when they were heavily worn. The traditional orange thread was selected to match the color of Davis’ copper rivets. Davis was also behind the patterned stitches on the rear pockets of blue jeans, which also once served a practical purpose. The pockets were once lined with cotton and the stitching (in orange thread, for continuity) kept that lining from bunching up. Even after removing the lining, Levi Strauss kept the identifiable stitching and registered it as a trademark in 1942.

A few items Collection #29 include denim-inspired pieces available in Peacock with “orinda” stitching. The Archer Coat, Hattie Skirt, Jean Jacket, and Lucy Skirt all reflect the traditional denim look—and a moment in Natalie’s earliest days as a designer.

ALABAMA CHANIN – COLLECTION: DENIM

CREATIVE INTEGRITY

I’ve recently been reading Brené Brown’s new book, Rising Strong. I’ve found so much good in the book, both for me personally and also for how we run our business. In any small (or young) business, you must have the courage to fall down, over and over again, and to “rise strong.” Because we aren’t perfect and make mistakes all the time, we have opportunities to examine why we get up and keep going—and in the process, learn to be our best selves.

Brené has taken inspiration in her work from this quote in a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

I highly recommend the book to every maker and entrepreneur who reads our Journal. The book is encouragement for giving yourself permission to experiment, learn, and create, BUT also for learning to set boundaries for what you are willing to permit.

This idea of boundary setting—of standing firm in what I believe is and is not okay—came into focus recently. So much of our lives are lived online; it is incredibly easy to let critical remarks become part of your “arena.” Artists know that it isn’t particularly productive to read reviews or comments on our work, whether negative or positive. It’s easy to get caught up in what other people think and to freeze. You can have 1000 beautiful responses to a work and you start to wonder, can I do something equally as good again? You can have 1000 beautiful responses to the work you do (take our newest book as an example), and yet a few negative remarks about how one pattern prints out can slay you. It’s enough to make you feel like you are crazy. It’s enough to MAKE you crazy. (When I’m feeling this crazy-don’t-know-what-to-think-kind-of-way, I go back to Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird—over and over again.)

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE INTEGRITY

When Collection #29 launched last year, we were so grateful for the positive responses… Thank you. I’m really proud of the work and our team. But when a response appeared on one of our social media channels implying that one of our designs would be easily copied, my immediate response was one of crazy (see above) frustration. In my mind, I thought, “We’ve worked 6 months on new designs; at least 7 people in our studio and 36 artisans have made these abstract ideas into beautiful textiles, and this person is grateful that the designs will be easy to copy.”

Crazy Me thinks, “A comment like that makes it seem silly that anyone would want to want to purchase our work because it’s, in essence, not that hard to make.” To paraphrase Brené, in that moment, my emotion was driving the car and my thoughts and behavior were in the backseat. I had to catch and reality-check myself before that emotion took me somewhere I did not need to go. And so I asked myself: What am I feeling? What’s driving it? How should I respond?

In Chapter Six, of Rising Strong, Brené writes about her friend and artist Kelly Rae Roberts, who teaches, publishes, and shares her knowledge. During a time when Kelly felt that people were taking too many liberties with her own work—instead of wavering or remaining silent—she wrote a blog post about “what is and is not okay.” After reading this, I asked myself why this single comment made me feel the way it did. Part of the answer is that I’m proud and protective of my team and of this company. The other part is that I was assigning importance to an opinion that shouldn’t matter—in the end, for me, it is the WORK itself that matters.

Our sharing philosophy has allowed our company to grow for the exact reason that some thought it would fail: we wanted to be inclusive where others were exclusive. The initial decision to open source our techniques and materials (and ultimately to create The School of Making) grew from our commitment to sustainability. Doing so allowed us to make living arts accessible to all consumers, not just those who could afford our handmade collection pieces. In general, our community works and plays well together—and for that we are extremely grateful.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE INTEGRITY

We find inspiration from many different places and work to create different designs with different intentions—and we are inspired by others. In the past, certain Alabama Chanin stencil designs and garment patterns have crossed over between our hand-sewn collection and our DIY projects. For example, you can’t find a more perfect skirt than The Every Day Long Skirt—my favorite skirt. Therefore, we decided to make it available in different forms: with hand embroidery in our collection, in basic fashion in our Essentials line, and as a DIY kit that you can make for yourself.

This will continue to be true for a few designs in the future—though not every design will be available in every configuration. We want to challenge ourselves to create something special and meaningful that has been designed and made with purpose—this is what makes the work challenging, and rewarding. For this reason, we create unique designs for our hand-sewn collection that are only available as ready-made garments. We will always experiment with new techniques and, at the same time, take some of our tried-and-true methods a step further. Our design team has also spent a great deal of time developing a new DIY collection, kits, programming, and projects. Right now, our graphics and design teams are working on never-before-released DIY patterns. We believe that this way of working celebrates each of our divisions, all of our makers, and allows us to hone our craft as designers.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE INTEGRITY

Alabama Chanin is a brand, but it is also a company made up of real people. We have a talented design team who work hard to create new designs for our customers. It is an honor to know that we have inspired a community of makers with similar philosophies and design aesthetics. But, I would like to take a moment to emphasize that we at Alabama Chanin are still individuals, trying to make a living and support our families—all while opening up our ideas to a global makers community. Designing the way we do requires us to be vulnerable; it requires that we place faith and trust in our community.

All of this made me sit down and think about my own vulnerability as a designer and business owner. I took inspiration from Kelly Rae Roberts’ manifesto to make my own list of what is and isn’t okay.

And so this is what I know:

It is really important for us to share our techniques. We didn’t invent embroidery stitches or reverse appliqué, and we are constantly inspired by both age-old techniques and current trends in creating our designs.

Working with our hands is a good way to have really important conversations about making, and the future of work in our nation and across the globe.

We offer the knowledge that we’ve been collecting over the years, as we believe that cultural sustainability is just as important as environmental sustainability. We want to preserve these techniques for the next generation.

Job creation in every community in America is important right now. We believe that the loss of manufacturing and maker jobs changed how we see ourselves as individuals and as a nation. The capacity to take care of ourselves and our families is one of the most vital functions of being a human being. Science is catching up with this thought. Read Mike Rose’s conversation with Krista Tippet. Listen to Ellen Langer talk about language, read Shop Class as Soulcraft, watch Gever Tulley, this list can go on and on…

We want you to use our books as inspiration and tools to learn the beautiful handwork techniques we utilize. We want you to use your work with us as a jumping-off place to spur your own creativity and bring that creativity to your own community. We are inspired by how many of you have adapted and expanded upon what we teach in our books and workshops; it inspires us daily to be more creative.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE INTEGRITY

What is okay:

To learn to do the work we promote and share it freely with your friends. Host a party, teach and learn from one another, spread the love, and have fun. To help Alabama Chanin keep our doors open and lights on, please let your friends know where your inspiration comes from. Buy fabric from us and order your kits and supplies through us. All of these things help us make beautiful, inspiring things, in addition to feeding people in our community.

To be inspired from our work. Take what we’ve learned and make it your own. Develop stencils, dye fabric, love your thread. It will take you places you never imagined you might go. I know this from experience.

What isn’t okay:

To copy our designs to sell or pass off our work as your own. As part of a sharing community, it is painful when we see this done. But, as we encourage teaching and sharing, our concern here is with selling, publishing, and/or making money from ideas that take livelihood away from our design and production teams and our artisans.

To take text from our Studio Books and use that to teach your own class for profit—unless you are a store that works with us directly.

To use our name or logos to sell garments or any other products for personal or corporate financial gain.

What will always be true:

It is easy to post negative comments online. As painful as those comments may be to read, we cannot stop—nor would we want to stop—them from coming. While we believe such comments have the potential to devalue the work of our design team, our artisans, and our customers and supporters, we do not rely on Internet comments to make ourselves feel worthy. And sometimes, we might need to be called out.

You may feel, because we have chosen to open source our techniques, that copying our designs and passing them off as your own is okay. It is not okay. We promise you—no joy or pride that you feel when copying another’s work can match what you feel when you create something truly your own.

I have returned again to Brené’s thoughts from Rising Strong, that life is better when we assume that everyone is doing their best. Even when people speak or act in ways that are intentionally hurtful, I want to believe they are doing the best they can with what they have available to them. That idea keeps me from bitterness and removes me from those moments when I am too affected by what others say (online or otherwise). This doesn’t mean that I think people should get away with behaving badly. It does mean that as Brené says, we can “hold people accountable for their actions in a way that acknowledges their humanity.”

It is okay to think what you think and to express your opinion; it is your right to say what you want to us in person, via email, and on the Internet. “The moment we deny a difficult experience, it owns us,” writes Brené. It is an act of compassion to love yourself. In this case, loving myself and loving my team means setting boundaries and sometimes saying, “that’s not okay”.

And so much of the time it is absolutely wonderful, and inspiring, and brings me personally, and our entire Alabama Chanin team, such great pride to watch our growing group thrive and flourish. Thank you.

xoNatalie

P.S.: Thank you again (and again) to Brené Brown and Kelly Rae Roberts—there is so much good in what you do. I’m a better person for having read you both.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CREATIVE INTEGRITY

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016

New Years’ Eve is a big (if quiet) night for me. It’s been a long time since I was that girl that danced until sunrise. These days I’m much more into getting up at sunrise, writing, scheming, drinking coffee, and, on some days, simply cleaning house. That being said, I’ve very often had big changes happen in my life around the turn of the year—is it that way for everyone? One year I moved to Europe. Another, I moved back to the U.S. In 1981, I went into labor (although Zach stubbornly wasn’t born until days later). Like I said, big nights and life-changing events.

I took advantage of this past New Year’s Eve simply for that quiet time to reflect and plan. 2015 was a BIG year and, while 2016 is moving towards being another BIG year, I’m also planning to, well, plan less. Not that I want to DO less but that I want to do more of what I love to do in between the other things that I want to do.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

I work less but work more efficiently.
I make time to write and exercise and take pictures.
I cook more dinners at home from the great cookbooks that I love so much.
I spend more time walking dogs and jumping on our (new) trampoline.

That’s it.
xoNatalie

It’s a good thing that we’ve got such a great team at Alabama Chanin because this is what we have going on in the coming year:

ALABAMA CHANIN – LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016

January
The new year kicks off with our Build a Wardrobe program and the launch of the Maggie Dress pattern. Remember to share all your projects across social media using #theschoolofmaking and #buildawardrobe2016. (You can purchase Build a Wardrobe at any time throughout the year.)

The Factory has updated hours for 2016. We’re open Monday – Friday from 10am – 5pm and Saturdays from 10am – 3pm. Find what’s on the daily menu here and directions here.

In addition to new hours, we’re also moving our Sip + Sew to select Saturdays (January 30th, April 30th, July 30th, and October 29th) throughout the year. On January 30th, bring your sewing projects, have a glass of wine (or two), and work with friends.

The Alabama Chanin pop-up shop at Citizen Supply in Ponce City Market runs through January 31st. If you’re in the Atlanta area, pay us a visit and shop our exclusive collection, garments, accessories, and home goods.

On January 29th, Natalie travels to Athens, Georgia, home of the University of Georgia (and the studios of Rinne Allen, Rebecca Wood, and Susan Hable), for a lecture on “Design, Making, and Meaning”. The lecture will be held at 5pm and is open to the public.

February
Look for the launch of Collection #30 (if all goes as planned) with fresh styles and additions to our Home collection.

We are partnering with the University of North Alabama to launch a film screening at The Factory. Our first screening will be February 25th and will focus on Southern Foodways Alliance films made by documentary filmmaker Joe York.

March
In early March, we will have new A. Chanin styles to add to the list of our favorite staples. Also look for a new Bridal collection as wedding season approaches.

Our first 2016 Friends of the Café Dinner is Thursday, March 24th with acclaimed chefs Frank Stitt and Rodney Scott. The evening includes cocktails, four courses, and wine pairings. Frank and Rodney will prepare a one-of-a-kind collaborative menu, curated especially for the event.

The following day, March 25th, we host a Two-Hour Workshop at The Factory. Work with Natalie and our team to learn the basics of sewing and start on your own project.

ALABAMA CHANIN – LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016

April
April is the month for our next Sip + Sew Saturday on April 30th. We will also introduce new DIY kits, plus our second garment for Build a Wardrobe: the Alabama Sweater Top.

The month closes with participation in Southern Makers in Montgomery, Alabama. Details to come.

May
Our first Studio Weekend Workshop takes place at The Factory from May 13 – 15. You’ll spend the weekend working with Natalie and our team on the project of your choice.

The Factory Café team is organizing our first-ever Spring Harvest Dinner on Saturday, May 21st. This dinner benefits our partnership with the non-profit organization Nest. Chef Zach Chanin is already planning the four-course meal with organic and locally-raised ingredients and wine pairings.

June
June will bring new products and projects for our A. Chanin machine-sewn line and our DIY collection.

Our annual Classic Studio Week Workshop at The Factory, scheduled for June 6 – June 10, is already filling up. Spend the week immersed in the Alabama Chanin philosophies and learn the garment creation process from our team.

ALABAMA CHANIN – LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016

July
We’ve planned to launch additions to Cook + Dine, plus a few surprises throughout the month. Take a break and enjoy your summer vacation. Natalie and Maggie embark on their own European vacation for a few weeks.

The Walking Cape, the next in our Build a Wardrobe projects, releases at the beginning of July—in time to get it finished for cooler weather.

August
Natalie wraps up her travels in France, where she is teaching a week-long workshop at Chateau Dumas from August 6 – August 13. (We had an overwhelming response, and this workshop is already sold out.) Look for more on-the-road workshops coming soon.

Another Collection (#31) will be on the horizon soon.

Chef Adam Evans will helm our annual Shindig Kick-off Dinner at The Factory. The date for this event has not yet been announced, but we will let you know as soon as details are finalized (normally the second or third weekend in August).

September
As everyone returns to their regularly scheduled, post-summer programming, we will be gearing up for the holidays with more A. Chanin styles and a new DIY collection.

Natalie’s design fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts wraps up in September. Throughout the year on the Journal, she will be sharing insight and inspiration from talented creatives across many industries.

Be sure to join our mailing list to receive daily Journal updates.

ALABAMA CHANIN – LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016

October
On Saturday, the 8th of October, we will host our final Friends of the Café Dinner with chef Sean Brock.

October also begins the final quarter for Build a Wardrobe, with our Full Wrap Skirt as the project.

From now until the end of the year, we will be working on holiday projects, parties, promotions, and events, and already have great things in store.

November
A Fall Harvest Dinner (as follow-up to our Spring Harvest Dinner) is slated for November of 2016. Stay tuned for more information coming this spring.

The Factory will host a Studio Weekend Workshop (our final workshop of 2016) from November 11 – 13.

December
All-things Holiday…and before we know it, it’s 2017.

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Looking back on 2015, it’s clear that this was the year of collaboration for Alabama Chanin. We expanded upon work that we have been creating with others for many years, added major new initiatives with new partners, and built upon our partnerships across all parts of our business. Partnership has always meant growth for Alabama Chanin—physical, fiscal, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional. As always, we want to thank each of you who made 2015 one of profound development—with more to come.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

We introduced our Collection #29 that features brand new garment styles and stencils. Our design team drew inspiration from vintage books, patterns, and textiles to create unique silhouettes and colorways. The collection saw an extension of our hand painting technique—which we experimented with as part of our indigo dyeing processes. It also allowed us to introduce new techniques—like our triple-layered technique, new styles—like the versatile Half Skirt, and a new organic textile—French Terry.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEWALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

We also updated and expanded on our line of Wardrobe Essentials, which includes a selection of both hand- and machine-sewn items that can be mixed and matched in a number of colors and classic silhouettes to fit your personal style and lifestyle. Use these as the basis for building your own sustainable wardrobe that will last you for many years.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEWALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

In July, Natalie and Maggie took a cross-country train trip on the California Zephyr to San Francisco as they traveled to the Alabama on Alabama exhibit hosted by Heath Ceramics at their Boiler Room venue. The month-long exhibit featured work from Alabama Chanin, Butch Anthony, John Henry Toney, and Rinne Allen. It also featured one of many pop-up shops that traveled across this country this year, including stops in Austin, New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Natalie was honored with an artist fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts that is allowing her to explore the source of creativity—and how each person’s approach may impact the final outcome. She has spoken to a wide range of artists on their creative processes, including Rinne Allen, Cathy Bailey of Heath Ceramics, Rosanne Cash, and Chef Anne Quatrano—with more to come in this series.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEWALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

The Factory Café has been working hard to grow its offerings with a diverse menu and a new beer and wine license. The café continues to bring the community inside Alabama Chanin to share meals or to make things at our Sip + Sew (with a new scheduling to come in 2016) and First + Third Tuesday sewing and socializing gatherings. We continued our popular Friends of the Café Dinner Series, which brought in Lisa Donovan and Angie Mosier to collaborate on a brunch to benefit Jones Valley Teaching Farm, Rob McDaniel of Springhouse Restaurant as part of a Piggy Bank fundraiser for the Southern Foodways Alliance, and Anne Quatrano as part of the Oxford American/Southern Makers dinner. This series brings nourishment to us in so many ways—sharing meals with old friends and new, and raising money for worthy causes. Look for more events in the coming year with incredible talents like Rodney Scott, Frank Stitt, Sean Brock, and more.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEWALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Regionally, we have partnered with Little River Sock Mill to make our custom line of Alabama Chanin socks and DPM Fragrance in Mississippi for our Alabama Chanin Grapefruit + Watercress candles. On a larger scale, we were also able to expand our longest collaboration—with Heath Ceramics—with our Indigo and Bird’s Nest patterns. They allowed us to take our experimentations in our indigo dye house and translate those into our expanding collection. The line includes new designs in many variations of the color indigo and introduced our newest Bird’s Nest etched pattern.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

We had a unique opportunity to work with legend (and heroine) Stella Ishii and her company 6397, turning overstock from their production processes into one-of-a-kind throws, unlike anything we have ever made before. Also, Alabama Chanin was honored to continue working with Patagonia on the Truth To Materials project, reclaiming discarded Patagonia jackets into warm patchwork scarves. The Patagonia Worn Wear Repair Truck made a stop at Alabama Chanin back in September to repair well-worn and well-loved garments for free.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Perhaps our most ambitious and wide-spanning collaboration has been with Nest, a non-profit that works with artisans across the world to build sustainable businesses with a positive social impact. Our partnership with Nest, formed under Alabama Chanin’s educational arm, The School of Making, hopes to reverse the trend of outsourced manufacturing that has impacted our region for decades. With Nest’s partnership, we are expanding our Building 14 machine-manufacturing division and implementing training and education at The Factory. As we move forward, we want to create new opportunities for those in our community to learn new techniques and update their skill sets—so that we may once again be a strong force in America’s textile industry.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

This year, we launched Alabama Studio Sewing + Patterns, which allows us to offer more new patterns than ever to home sewers. It provides instructions and suggestions on how to customize Alabama Chanin garments to fit your personal style or fit needs. We developed new and improved ways of delivering patterns to our DIY customers and have begun offering patterns never before sold to the public, like our Unisex T-Shirt and Natalie’s Apron.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

All of this brings us back to our growing and evolving partnership through The School of Making with makers in the global community. As we have grown the educational arm of our business, we have seized as many opportunities as possible to broaden the circle of participants in the making process. This year, that includes the introduction of Host a Party. Anyone who wants to gather 6 or more friends can organize their own Alabama Chanin-style sewing party. Guests get a 20% discount off of their DIY kit and the host receives a kit for free, in exchange for providing sewing instructions and hospitality.

As we move into the New Year, join us for our upcoming Build a Wardrobe series, which will build upon the format we established with Swatch of the Month—but will help you customize one (or more) garments in each quarter of 2016. We also have a full slate of workshops planned, including one at Chateau Dumas in France, as well as new products for Cook + Dine and A. Chanin. New collaborations are in the works, and the possibility of working on a new book is on the calendar in the coming months.

Keep up with us throughout the year by following the Journal and signing up for our mailing list and monthly Newsletter—and here’s to a prosperous New Year for all.

Thank you for following along with us,

Natalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin

P.S. – The grids shown above are a gallery of all of the promotional postcards our team made for The Factory and various events and programs over the course of the year. We’re proud of the beautiful year we’ve had and are excited about what the new year holds.

Follow along on social media and on our Journal with the hashtags:
#theschoolofmaking
#swatchofthemonth
#buildawardrobe2016

INSPIRATION: GEOMETRY AND SQUARES

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for. —Georgia O’Keeffe

In geometry, a square is a regular quadrilateral; it has four equal sides and four equal 90-degree angles.

A square is also technically a rhombus, a kite, a parallelogram, a quadrilateral, and a rectangle.

Squares signify stability. They are sturdy shapes that suggest familiarity, safety, and honesty. Their straight lines and sharp corners represent order and rationality. The uniformity of a square signifies equality.

Squares can also suggest rigidity or hardness.

In people, a square is understood as someone uncool or boring. Not so in design. We like both kinds of squares.

They are the most common shapes among man-made objects – from architecture to book pages.

INSPIRATION- GEOMETRY AND SQUARES
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INSPIRATION: OCHRE + GOLD LEAF

Ochre: a natural earth pigment containing hydrated iron oxide

Vermeer used ochre extensively when painting flesh tones.

Ochre is the color of harvest, of autumn wheat, and heavenly bodies.

Gold Leaf: gold that has been hammered into thin sheets

The golden bough, sought by Aeneas to protect himself as he journeyed into Hades.

And here: the golden tree of life at London’s Whitechapel Gallery.

Today, see Chinese artist Zhou Xiaoping collaborate with Aboriginal artist Johnny Bulunbulun. Ochre and Ink and rice paper, a cross-cultural experiment in art and process.

Our Arella Top – a selection from Collection #29

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: OCHRE + GOLD LEAF

THE HALF-SKIRT

With our newest collection, we are introducing garment styles new to the Alabama Chanin wardrobe. Perhaps the most notable new addition is the Half Skirt. Similar to an apron, it wraps around the body and is secured with a waist tie.

The intention of the Half Skirt is to add variety to your wardrobe with just one piece. You may choose to wear two of these pieces together in a combination of ways or layer one half on top of your favorite dress or skirt. Either way, there are many options for mixing and matching patterns, prints, and colors or creating volume. You can add a highly embellished piece to a casual garment to create a more formal look.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE HALF-SKIRTALABAMA CHANIN – THE HALF-SKIRT

Or, as is the case with our Shelby Skirt, you can layer a skirt on top of another piece to add pockets for increased functionality.

Our new collection currently includes 9 Half Skirts in various colors, patterns, and styles. Here are some of our favorite ways to style them.

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View our current Collection here.

COLLECTION #29

This week, we are pleased to launch Alabama Chanin Collection #29—with never before seen garment styles and stencils. Natalie has been working for many years to grow a talented design team that understands our company mission and helps advance the design story we tell with each collection.

COLLECTION #29

The garments are presented in four main colors—Natural, Black, Ochre, and Peacock, the latter acting as a continuation of our Indigo Blue color story. We drew inspiration from graphic design and interiors as we created the patterns and design motifs. The new, prominently featured Tony stencil was inspired by a vintage book cover; another new embroidery motif—Dots and Dashes—was inspired by an antique wallpaper pattern. The entire collection reflects this same design approach.

We are also employing new techniques—continuing the hand painting technique used in our one-of-a-kind Indigo garments and introducing a new triple-layered technique, a sort-of double-negative reverse appliqué, inspired by a South American textile technique. For the first time, we are introducing garments made from organic French Terry. We have worked with our supplier in North Carolina to ensure this fabric meets the same standards as our organic cotton jersey and are excited about the results.

COLLECTION #29

You will see new styles introduced, including an updated corset, more jackets, and new takes on our popular poncho. These garments are designed to help expand and diversify your wardrobe by just adding one or two new pieces.

Look for highlights of our design process, inspirations, and new designs very soon…

INSPIRATION: ONE-OF-A-KIND INDIGO

Indigo – electric, deep, light, or tropical

Indigo can be bright, violet-blue, midnight blue.

Electric indigo represents the sixth chakra—the Anja—that includes the third eye.

It is the color of intuition and self-awareness.

Today, the New Leaves stencil + layers of indigo of the Indigo Shell Top made me think of this:

A creation of Miya Ando: a representation of the bioluminescent bays of Puerto Rico.

Phosphorescent leaves floating on a pond, lighting up the night with a dreamy, radiant blue glow.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: STARBURST DRESS

Once our garments are born and leave the nest, they have rich lives. At least that is what we hope—what we believe. We work hard to design and construct pieces that will last for many years and become heirlooms, passed down from one generation to the next. For owners of Alabama Chanin garments, it’s common that the garments are integrated into their lives for years and years. In celebration of this sentiment, we decided to highlight garments from our archives—and, where possible, to follow their journeys and see where they have landed.

My closet seemed the natural place to start, and so we begin with a very personal dress from my life:

Project Alabama Garment #5387
Built in August 2002
Pattern:  A-67 Slip Dress (18 pattern pieces)
Stencil: 116 Star Flower
Fabric: Recycled T-shirts in shades of Navy
Seams: Outside Felled
Thread: Navy
Knots: Inside
Size: Medium
Owner: Natalie Chanin

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NEW: ONE OF A KIND

In April, I traveled to Chicago to lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While there, I spent some time at the Art Institute and found great inspiration from the works displayed in their galleries. (For someone who has been considering scale and texture quite a bit lately, Elena Manferdini’s exhibition gave me plenty to think about.)

I immediately felt connected to one of the Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, which took me back to 2012 when Alabama Chanin hosted a Weekend Away Workshop in Taos, New Mexico. The workshop was held at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, and I slept in the very room that Georgia O’ Keeffe stayed in some 60 years ago.

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INSPIRATION: PEWTER

Pewter: a malleable metal alloy of tin, copper, antimony, bismuth and sometimes, silver or lead.

Early civilizations like the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are known to have used this soft metal in jewelry and tableware.

It is a rich shade of gray that has remarkable depth and presence.

A commonly used material in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts periods.

Molten and cast

Polished or tarnished

A lustrous silvery-grey with purple and umber highlights

Pewter glows.

Pewter-New-Leaves

P.S.: Click for more inspiration: pewter table ware and decor from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s extensive online collection and Christie’s Auction House

INSPIRATION: APPLE

INSPIRATION: APPLE

Red—the color of extremes.

Difficult for some to see; more difficult to paint.

It’s the color of blood, violence, and revolution—of danger, adventure, and the almost universal sign to stop.

Red is full of energy. It is exciting and awakening.

It denotes power and confidence.

It’s been called the color of temptation and desire.

In some cultures, it is the color of luck; in others districts, the color of lust and seduction.

This week, it is the color of love.

And, of course, the apple.

Apple Red—our newest collection color.

Take a bite.

INSPIRATION: APPLE

P.S.: Barnett Newman here and here.

COLLECTION #26: TODAY

Today is Tuesday. Today I’m inspired.

Today there are new pieces added to Collection #26 (and more coming next week).

Today I will ______ (fill in your blank).

Today—by Mary Oliver

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

COLLECTION #26: TODAY

INSPIRATION: BLACK AND GOLD

Black and Gold – in color symbolism they hint at the unknown, power, and formality alongside abundance, prosperity, and extravagance.

Black and Gold – Madonna on a Crescent Moon by an anonymous painter in Germany, commonly referred to as the Master of 1456.

Black and Gold – for some reason also makes me think of Madonna (the singer) in the 1980s (but also today).

Black and Gold – our newest blend of fabric and paint—a departure from the tone-on-tone colors seen in many of our previous collections.

When you order black pieces from our collection (and/or DIY Kits), the items come stenciled with shades of Gold textile paint—unless otherwise noted in the description.

P.S.: If you prefer a different color for your DIY Kit, please choose our Custom DIY option.

INSPIRATION: BLACK AND GOLD

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INSPIRATION: EVERGREEN

Evergreen: adj.  2. Perennially fresh or interesting; enduring.

Our new Evergreen collection features a selection of hand-sewn and machine-made garments, all over-dyed by hand in our indigo vats here at The Factory. The slow process of dying one garment at a time creates rich color variations and shades of color in each of these one-of-a-kind pieces.

We love to pair this (perennially) fresh color with indigo and cream for the holidays—and all year long.

Available for a limited time.

INSPIRATION: EVERGREEN

P.S.:  Photo of joyous woman and evergreen tree from a box of photographs liberated from the Museum of Wonder.

 

INSPIRATION: REALLY RED

Not quite terra cotta red; not exactly pinkish; not really coral, but really red.

Pinkish: an adjective meaning somewhat pink.

Coral: also an adjective meaning a reddish yellow; light yellowish red; pinkish yellow.

INSPIRATION: REALLY RED

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ALABAMA CHANIN @ AUSTIN, TEXAS

Join us this Thursday evening, November 6th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in Austin, Texas, for a reception celebrating our Alabama Chanin pop-up shop inside the Billy Reid store at 1122 West 6th Street. The Austin store features our Heath + Alabama Chanin collaboration, Alabama Chanin Essentials, alongside our hand-dyed Indigo, books, and more.

For more information, contact: austin (at) billyreid.com, sales (at) alabamachanin.com, or call, +1.512.354.1884.

See you there,
xoNatalie

Essentials (2)

 

 

ESSENTIALS: UPDATED

To celebrate the opening of our pop-up shop in Austin, Texas, we’ve updated our Essentials with new classics and long-time favorites. In collaboration with Billy Reid,the opening reception is this Thursday, November 6, 2014, from 5:30 – 7:30. The store opens with regular hours Friday, November 7, 2014, and is a permanent fixture at Billy Reid’s Austin location through January 31, 2015.

Visit us here: Billy Reid, 1122 West 6th Street in Austin, Texas, or contact austin (at) billyreid.com for more information.

STORE HOURS: MONDAY–FRIDAY 10–7, SATURDAY 10–7, SUNDAY 12–6

And visit our Essentials page to shop our all-time favorite pieces and accessories online.

P.S.:  Shop our new favorite shoes at Billy Reid online.

 

 

NEW: ALABAMA CHANIN

Today we introduce our newest Alabama Chanin silhouettes like our Marie Pencil Skirt and Garter Dress which have a flattering and feminine shape, alongside our Peasant Top and Factory Dress which offer a more relaxed fit.

NEW: ALABAMA CHANIN

Classics styles, like our Corset and Long Fitted Skirt, are combined with new stencil designs like ‘Aurora,’ ‘Marie,’ and ‘New Leaves.’ Other classic designs like our ‘Daisy’ and ‘Magdalena’ remain. Choose from neutral shades, or a burst of Really Red—one of our newest colors. Look for new designs, colors, and an updated website over the coming weeks…

xoNatalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin

NEW: ALABAMA CHANIN

MORE INDIGO

We’ve added more one-of-a-kind Indigo garments to our collection. The additions include our Alabama Polo, Summer Cardigan, and Crop Jacket, among others.

More hand-dyed goodness from our dye house in Florence…

(RE)INTRODUCING ALABAMA CHANIN INDIGO

Indigo—a celebration of our natural dye house at The Factory in Florence.

This collection includes updated classic styles, available in a range of shades from Light to Dark Indigo and Blue Grey. View our  permanent staples—available year-round—alongside a revolving selection of one-of-a-kind, limited-edition pieces we love.

Check back regularly for more hand-dyed goodness.

ESSENTIALS

We’ve selected our favorite wardrobe essentials, ranging from basic layering staples to fully-embellished statement pieces.

These items are easily integrated into any wardrobe—perfect for transitioning to cooler weather.

Shop Alabama Chanin Essentials here.

 

MAKESHIFT 2014

MAKESHIFT began three years ago as a conversation about the intersection of the disciplines of design, craft, art, fashion, and DIY—and, on a bigger level, using this intersection as an agent of change in the world. Since then, we’ve explored making as individuals, and how making as a group can open conversations and build communities.

For MAKESHIFT 2014, we have once again partnered with Standard Talks in New York to host the conversation, and will cover a range of topics, including raw materials, craft, fashion, global communities, food, and the act of making. 2014 James Beard award-winning chef Ashley Christensen will also participate in the discussion, helping answer the question: What can design learn from food?

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A MANUFACTURING COLLABORATION: LITTLE RIVER SOCK MILL

Alabama Chanin recently partnered with our friend Gina Locklear of Little River Sock Mill (and Zkano) to create a line of Made in the USA, organic cotton socks as part of our new collection.

We’ve written before about the textile and manufacturing history of the Shoals, and our current strides towards revitalizing manufacturing within our community (and beyond). Florence was once known as the T-shirt Capital of The World, and another northern Alabama town—Fort Payne (home to Little River Sock Mill)—held the title of Sock Capital of The World. We are proud to launch this line of Alabama-manufactured organic cotton socks, alongside the machine-manufactured line A. Chanin.

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LAUNCHING A. CHANIN

Last year, we announced with great excitement that Alabama Chanin would be launching a machine-made line called A. Chanin. After months of hard work from our team (and the receipt of the CFDA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge award), the inaugural A. Chanin pieces are here.

Until now, all Alabama Chanin products have been made by hand, using sustainable practices. We have worked hard to develop machine-made garments that stay true to our ideals of high quality, slow fashion, sustainable design, and Made in the USA production. The A. Chanin line maintains the same commitment to these ideals that our products have always demonstrated, but at a lower price.

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THE ALABAMA CHANIN LOOKBOOK

With the launch of our new collection, we have also launched a lookbook online, with the aim to share our design inspirations and (hopefully) inspire your own look and style.

View our look book to see how A. Chanin seamlessly integrates with our new Alabama Chanin collection, discover interpretations of Three for a Dime and Disfarmer-style looks, and get a close-up look at fabric details and garment designs.

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MAXINE PAYNE: THREE FOR A DIME

Lance and Evelyn Massengill

In 2008, Maxine Payne, an Arkansas-based artist, self-published a book of photographs titled Making Pictures: Three For A Dime. She catalogued the work of the Massengill family who worked from 1937 to 1941 as itinerant photographers in rural Arkansas documenting farmers, young couples, babies, and anyone else who had a few minutes and an extra dime to spend. The Massengills’ photos provided candid snapshots of the rural South just before the Second World War. Through her efforts, Maxine Payne has given new life to these old photographs by coordinating exhibitions and projects, including a forthcoming book by the Atlanta-based publisher Dust-to-Digital and a collaboration with Alabama Chanin on our new collection. We asked Maxine to describe her connection to the Massengill family and her involvement with Three For A Dime:6UP-GRID

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INTRODUCING THE NEW COLLECTION

We are very proud to announce the launch of the new Alabama Chanin collection. Here at the studio, we have all been busy over the past months preparing for this endeavor—from a collaboration with artist Maxine Payne (more from the story behind our inspiration and Maxine tomorrow…), to perfecting organic cotton fabric and colors, designing and producing garments pattern-by-pattern, swatch-by-swatch, creating and hand sewing sample garments, organizing photo shoots, and finally, preparing for this launch today.

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Lots of work, time, and love go into every piece of a new collection. Each of our fabrics and garments are designed to last a lifetime: some pieces intended as heirlooms, others seamlessly integrated into everyday wardrobes.

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The new collection features several designs, including our Magdalena, Daisy, Scallops, and Whispering Rose patterns worked in a variety of techniques and a selection of colors including: Natural, Navy, Black, Lime, Natural Blue Grey, and Ballet.

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PINTEREST INSPIRATION

Over the past few years, social media has become an integral part of many businesses, including Alabama Chanin. It is a way for us to share our ideas, designs, and inspirations with you. Pinterest is a great platform for inspiration and collaboration. Thousands of images are shared daily on the site, creating a beautiful and useful medium for those looking for inspiration.

Recently, we discovered hundreds of Alabama Chanin-inspired Pinterest boards, curated by you – our followers, fans, and friends. Browsing your boards was like taking a journey through the history of this company. From past collections, to Studio Style DIY, and even creations of your own design, you have created something that is encouraging to all of us here at the Alabama Chanin studio. Knowing that we can serve as a source of inspiration for you to create, dream, design, and learn motivates us to continue sending inspiration your way.

Be on the lookout for a new Collection, recipes from The Factory Café, the machine-sewn line A. Chanin, new DIY projects, special in-store offers, and a new Bridal Collection to be shared on our Pinterest boards soon.

*Stay connected (and inspired) by following us on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

THE YEAR AHEAD

As 2013 was a great year for Alabama Chanin—one full of new projects, studio expansions, awards, good times with friends, travel, workshops, and bringing ideas and visions to full fruition—we are equally excited about the upcoming events for 2014 (stay up-to-date by subscribing to our mailing list).

Our newest Collection will launch online at the end of this month, along with our line of machine-sewn garments under the label A. Chanin.

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LITTLE FLOWERS + LITTLE FOLKS (WITH ANNA MARIA HORNER)

Two years in the making, we are thrilled to officially introduce our Anna Maria Horner collaboration to Alabama Chanin’s Studio Style DIY. In-depth conversations, back-and-forth emails, and Nashville-Florence meetings with Anna Maria resulted in two textile pattern designs called “Little Flowers” and “Little Folks”.

Our collaborative process illustrates the infinite design possibilities that emerge when you start a conversation on design; our collaboration is an enlargement and elaboration of Anna Maria’s textile pattern: Little Folks.

I’ve been a fan of Anna Maria and her lively prints for years. Seeing the evolution of many of these prints into complete fabric collections made me curious to see what one would look like worked in our Alabama Chanin style. Little Folks had all the elements I was interested in incorporating into an Alabama Chanin design: simple forms, intricate detail, and repeating geometric patterns. This elemental approach focused on the essence of her design, evident in the laser-cut stencils.

LITTLE FLOWERS STENCIL- ANNA MARIA HORNER COLLABORATION

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COLLECTION HIGHLIGHT

Our latest Alabama Chanin Collection features two original pieces – The Swing Coat and Layered Dolman Coat – and several classic patterns like the Alabama A-line dress and Long Skirt developed in new colorways and patterns.

Last summer we collaborated with friend and talent Anna Maria Horner on the Little Flowers stencil, which you’ll find on our Little Flowers Swing Coat and Little Flowers Dolman Coat. The Swing Coat, essentially a shorter version of our Long Coat, is fitted through the bodice with a gentle flare at the waist. Made in 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey, the Swing Coat measures 32” from the shoulder and shows off the simple beauty of backstitch reverse appliqué.

NEW COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS

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ALABAMA CHANIN BASICS

We recently started a conversation on Real Women and fashion with Sara’s post “Too Fat For Fashion,” and your response has been lively, evocative and challenging. As we prepared to launch an extended ready-to-wear Basics section on our Alabama Chanin website, we found ourselves thinking more carefully about how our pieces fit different shapes, how they can be adjusted and streamlined for individual figures, and how many of our pieces flatter many body types.

Start with the material. By using 100% organic cotton jersey, we have given our collection a head start on both comfort and individualized fit. Jersey, by nature, has a generous stretch, but also memory. One member on our Alabama Chanin team loves the Alabama Corset because when she hangs it up after wearing she can still see the silhouette of her body in the fabric. It makes her feel as though the top was made especially for her.

ALABAMA CHANIN BASICS - HALTER TOP

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NEW WEBSITE

We often hear that you have to see an Alabama Chanin garment in person to really appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship that goes into every piece. We sincerely believe that our upcoming website is the next best thing.

As our brand continues to grow, and our interests and projects become more diverse, we rely more and more on AlabamaChanin.com as a way to showcase our endeavors, share our experiences, and interact with a community that is constantly expanding.

This is a place to share our life at the Factory, or at least a sampling of it: Workshops, DIY craft, custom couture garments, cotton farming, upcycling developments, Thursday potlucks, visiting artists, and the list goes on. We wanted a site that would reflect all of the things that we are – and all of the things that you, our customers, are. We wanted a meeting place that is both welcoming and engaging and, of course, easy to use, because we know first-hand that when you have so much going on in one place, things can be a little difficult to navigate.

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NYC TO NASHVILLE

During the peak of New York Fashion Week, we played host to numerous events, presenting the pieces of our newest collection at meetings and trunk shows all across Manhattan. We had the joy of meeting with customers to showcase our latest pieces and help them design one-of-a-kind garments of their own.

Thanks to the generosity of a few dear friends, new and old, we could not have asked for a better show.

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ALABAMA SARONG

Perhaps the most unique piece in our Denim + Carmine Collection is the sarong. This multi-functional piece measures 36” long by 72” wide and is designed for a variety of body types. Made to be fluid and adaptable, the material wraps around the waist and ties at the side.

Our sarongs can be worn for a variety of occasions: add it to your workday wardrobe, wear to work in the garden, or toss in your vacation bag. The sarong is available as a basic, and in two stenciled versions: Full Stencil Sarong and Alabama Chanin Sarong.

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ANNA MARIA HORNER

It is so easy to sing the praises of Anna Maria Horner. Our frequent readers know that she has appeared on our blog before and is a friend and inspiration to Alabama Chanin. I adore her personality, a perfect mixture of sweet, sincere charm and biting wit. Her joy for life is irresistible and her prolific work is astounding.

Anna Maria is a designer of beautiful, bright fabrics, along with a host of other accessoriessewing books, and patterns. Her designs feature numerous, delicate flowers, creative shapes, and intertwining lines. In her collections, color is not a foreign concept and patterns are for mix + match. Over the years, she has partnered with more than two dozen manufacturers to design home-wares, gift items, textiles + much more. She is even the new face of Janome, a leader in sewing technology.

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INDIGO + CARMINE (WITH A LITTLE ANNA MARIA HORNER)

Our newest pieces from Alabama Chanin arrive today in the form of Indigo and Carmine—mixed to complement classic pieces from our Denim collection. From the Alabama Chanin Sarong to the Fitted Cotton Blazer, these garments are designed for everyday wear. The 100% organic cotton pieces featured in Indigo and Carmine can take you from the office to a night out-without a wardrobe change.

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AMERICAN FLAG THROW + PILLOWS

I adore our American Flag Quilt and have it as a year-round staple in my home. However, I decided to make a throw for certain casual, summertime activities, like bundling up my daughter Maggie on a cool night or setting a simple picnic at the creek.

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THE COLLECTION

The Alabama Chanin collection is a luxury line. Hand-selected fabric is sourced, dyed, re-dyed, and sometimes dyed again to achieve the perfect shade. Our team has hand-mixed thousands of paint colors, looking for the perfect complement to a certain hue. Giant rolls of fabric have been returned, donated, or recycled because a run, tear, or other minor defect was spotted. Designs are sketched and often re-sketched. Then come the patterns, more patterns, and finally dozens of samples (all hand-sewn), alterations, editing, more patterns, more samples. Repeat.

Our embellishments are next. We add the glass beads, the intricate decorative stitching, the sturdy straight stitch, endless crocheted snaps, and once again, repeat. Southern couture is expensive, lovely, and nothing less than a passion for those artisans who initial the tags in each one-of-a-kind Alabama Chanin garment.

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BARBEQUE COLLECTION

About this time last year, I agreed to create a barbeque inspired collection for our next Fall/Winter line – yes, that’s right, barbeque. Although it seems impossible, time moves SO QUICKLY and it is time to get started. John T. Edge is headed to our studio today to discuss the upcoming work, as the barbeque collection will be shown at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi, next year.

In preparation for that collection, I have been working on a series of barbeque inspired Textile Stories Quilts for the Taste of the South auction next month.  When thinking about barbeque (and we have our share here in Florence), what better place to start than with Joe York’s film Cut Chop Cook.

I love this quote from barbeque master Roosevelt Scott (it starts at the 4:48 minute mark):

“After building the fire, while the fire is getting ready put the pig on the pit.  And after you put the pig on, when the coals get ready then you start putting the coal under the hog.

We take the shovel.  Scoop it in there.  Scoop up what we need.  Take it on the inside and we have an open door at each pit where we go under with the shovel and spread the heat at both the ham and the shoulders.  No where else.  And all the heat meets in the middle.

You hear folks all over say they use the wood.  But then they say they use wood chips, or they may use a few pieces of wood.  They might smoke for a little bit. This right here?  All wood.  Nothing else.  One hundred percent wood. Nothing but wood.

Cut. Chop. Cook.  It’s all right here.  In the wood.”

You can almost smell the barbeque.  Food for the soul:

CUT/CHOP/COOK from UM Media Documentary Projects on Vimeo.

 

DOUGHNUTS + T-SHIRTS

While I was away having fun at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium last weekend, my daughter Maggie was working hard at eating doughnuts and designing t-shirts for our new children’s line.

The top design features a glass of “sweet tea” on the t-shirt front – not iced tea as it “has to be sweet to be tea.” This is from a girl who thinks that doughnuts should be considered a vegetable.

Our children’s line launches next month in New Orleans at Angelique Baby on Magazine Street as a part of our New Orleans and Ogden Museum traveling show.

I can’t wait to get back to NOLA.  See all of our upcoming events here.
xoNatalie

 

PERFECT FIT

More than any other time of year, the start of fall brings with it incredible rushes of nostalgia. The first chill usually arrives with distant memories, put away with last year’s winter coats.This light-weight piece is the first thing I reach for to welcome the returning season. Our Tied Wrap employs the simplest of designs. Rectangular layers of jersey drape across the shoulders and tie behind your back. The result? A tailored fit no matter your size. Fold it over for a beautiful muffler when the weather gets colder.

CHALLENGE

I can’t recall exactly where, but I once read an article that instructed the reader to dress in layers when attending an event. You were to shed these layers very very slowly. The idea was to take off one piece every hour (give or take, depending on the duration and your tolerance) until you were down to an incredible, shoulder baring party frock.

If ever there were a garment made for such a display it would have to be our beaded crisscross top. Rarely does a piece manage to look so elegant and refined while retaining a bit of an edge.

Black-tie, dive bar, or for those up to a challenge: both in one night, all eyes are on you-guaranteed.

THE COLLECTION KEEPS GROWING

Introducing our Knotted Necklaces – which are also a great belts.

Shown below styled with our:

Anna’s Garden Embroidered Tank and Paisley Skirt

 

 

SKIRT (AND TOP) + SKIRTS

Our most popular A-line skirt is a versatile piece that can pull double duty as an elegant swing top.  It is, as always, sewn and adorned by hand using our Anna’s Garden pattern in contrasting applique and glass bugle and chop beads.  You see it here styled with two long skirts for our collection photos:

Pleated Stripe Skirt in silt with white and sand-colored applique (available for custom order),
and the Long Embroidered Skirt with negative reverse Anna’s Garden applique in white on white.

Of course, this is only one way to style the pieces. You will see members of our Alabama Chanin team mixing it up all the time, combining colors, patterns, and styles. We encourage you to use your own sense of style. Don’t be afraid to show your creativity.


THE HEART

I once had a close friend who was the most incredible painter, yet never sold a single piece of art. I (and everyone who saw her work) was certain she was destined for artistic greatness and critical acclaim, if only she could get people to see her work. She thought it unfair and ridiculous to allow a gallery to take a commission on her sales when she did all of the work. As her collection grew, her apartment shrank, and I decided to play hero – or at least middle man.   That was free of charge.

Unfortunately, my efforts met with failure after failure; despite interested buyers, the deal always fell through. Mostly she claimed the piece was in need of some minor finishing then failed to follow up, refused to return calls. How could someone struggling with bills be so unmotivated that they couldn’t even schedule a time to collect some cash? Finally I realized (and after a couple of cocktails she admitted) that she had no intention of selling those paintings- they simply meant to much to her.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an artist who hasn’t experienced this sort of attachment to their art. Investing so much of your time and energy into a piece shapes the way you view and how much you appreciate it. When I begin a project that I know is destined for someone-somewhere else, I take a moment to focus on that fact; I take a moment to hope it will bring happiness to the wearer. Then, I let it go.

It’s hard to see a piece of our clothing in-person and not touch it – strangers have been known to sacrifice their understanding of personal boundaries on more than one occasion. The beauty of hand-stitching is almost shocking in its simplicity, and even the most perfect looking stitches are not- that’s the point. It is impossible to conceal the artistry and expression in a garment that has been made by human hands. Diane, our head seamstress (who you will meet later),  can tell you which one of our stitchers is responsible for a garment with a quick glance… we wonder if she can tell their mood as well.

Alabama Fur (in the picture above) is one of the most time-intensive treatments in the collection; it can take several weeks to complete an all-over application. Every time I run my hands across a sample of it I can’t help but think of how much time it spent with the artist who made it.  Was it put aside at the same time every day in the name of homework assistance? Did it suffer through the new season of True Blood, or help with any important decisions?

The Alabama Chanin collection (in the best case scenario) is made from cotton that is grown in Texas, spun in North Carolina, knit in South Carolina,  dyed in Tennessee and North Carolina, and sewn by our incredible Artists here in Alabama. I’d like to introduce you to the people that take part in the making of your Alabama Chanin pieces, those that cut your fabric, pack the boxes that are mailed to you, and those that hand-stitch our collection on their own terms and time.  Each garment is hand-numbered and signed by the artisan who assembled it. Who made your favorite piece? Check the tag, and if you’re inclined, say hello when he or she is featured. We love learning more about our friends, fans, and clients. We hope you enjoy getting to know us a little better during the upcoming months.


SNAPSHOT

A lovely shot from our friend Sarah E. Lewis – laboring on location today (with our collection) in New York City.

 

TWO WEEKS LATER

Thrilled to be back @ EcoSalon today and shocked that has it has already been two weeks since the last column! Head over there to find out why “Life Demands an Ice Skating Fee.”

Time always seems to pass much more quickly when you have a lot to do; so far, August has been no exception.

Although I’m far from packing for Berlin, I am already dreaming of which designs from the new collection will fill my suitcase. I’ve spent the last few days pouring over images and choosing which ones to add to the site next week. To be perfectly honest, I’m having a hard time narrowing it down –  that is a lovely problem to have.

I have, however, begun packing for Texas. The new collection and a tower of DIY kits for the Marfa Workshop will be traveling with me; this requires a bit more thought and planning, twenty pairs of scissors and a bag of X-acto blades means arriving extra early for your flight!

We would love to see you @ Fancy Pony Land for our trunk show, El Cosmico for a Two-hour workshop (there are a couple of spots remaining), or both!

Or, should you happen to be in Austin the following week, visit us at the Hotel San Jose.

Stop by and visit EcoSalon today and let us know what you think.  If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below. The next installment will be here before you know it!

In the meantime, have a lovely weekend…

 

 

NEW YORK – NEW ALABAMA

Just back from New York with the new collection and new photos for the new book. (More photos coming soon.)

See you at the DooNanny this weekend…

And don’t forget to vote for Alabama Chanin Studio Store on the TreeHugger Best of Green Reader’s Choice.

Thanks to Eric and all the folks @Etsy for the lovely new film on Butch.  I love John Henry’s song:

RAINY DAYS + WELLIES

It is pouring rain today. This calls for Maggie’s Dress and Wellies as I leave to drive the new collection to the airport for its trip to New York City.

It is one of our most beautiful ever.  Isn’t rain on your wedding day good luck?

FRESH AIR

The first day (and night) of cold has arrived like a breath of fresh air… tomatoes pulled from vines for fear of frost and our walking cape is my new best friend.

 

ALABAMA IN THE BRONX

From Father Andrew @ Goods of Conscience:

“Do you notice the corn growing next to the garage?  We have chickens up here too.  I am loving the indigo flag waving Alabama in our midst.”

Read more about Father Andrew & Alabama Denim **Photo courtesy of Father Andrew

 

INDIGO SUMMER

Our newest catalog for Alabama Denim is up and ready to view.  Additional garments will be coming to our online store over the next few days.  Stay tuned…

And look for some of these shots in the newest issue of Refueled – dropping on May 31st. I am looking forward to seeing everything Chris has put together!

A few of my favorites:

 

PROJECT #7

This corset – one of my all-time favorites – was part of our Songbirds Collection for Fall/Winter 2009.

The pattern is available in Alabama Stitch Book and it is made using our 100% organic indigo fabric and the Angie’s Fall stencil from Alabama Studio Style.

TO MAKE YOUR OWN:

Corset pattern from Alabama Stitch Book
2 yards 100% organic indigo fabric
Pearl Silver textile paint
Angie’s Fall stencil
1 spool Button Craft thread in Slate #26
1 package Red bugle beads

Fabric Detail:

 

BLUE MONDAY

Back in the studio after what seems months & happy to get back to the business of making beautiful things…

Here is my favorite shot from Spring/Summer 2010. I feel like I can breathe this blue.   We will be working on the web catalog and hope to have something to share by next week.

Read: Blue: The History of a Color

Watch one of my favorite films: Blue from Three Colors Trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski

 

THE SONGBIRDS

Robert Rausch just finished our final catalog and lookbook for The Songbirds…

The photographs are lovely – thank you to Russ Harrington and everyone involved. It was a beautiful process. We are working on updating our website and will soon have this and a slew of other new projects going up. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorites: