19 Nov Fashion retreat
In a very unassuming building in an industrial park in Florence, Alabama is a hidden jewel where the creative juices are churning daily. What they are producing behind the walls are stylish upscale garments for women to wear that look good and feel good.
Welcome to the world of Alabama Chanin, brainchild of designer Natalie Chanin who is all about a sustainable wardrobe that is one hundred percent organic, grown-to-sewn in the U.S.A. When a friend of mine invited me to join her at the studio just 100 miles south of Nashville, I took her up on it. I’d been here before, but spent more time this visit learning about the lifestyle brand. There’s so much to know about these beautiful pieces of clothing. What you need to know is there’s so much thought that goes behind the designs, with responsible production and quality that lasts.
The cotton is grown in Texas, milled and dyed to Chanin’s specifications in the Carolinas, but then the patterns are made and the rest of the production happens here. Notions are packaged for artisans who live within a two hour distance from Florence, and when they are finished with their work, everything is checked for quality control before a customer gets it. Her company uses 100 percent organic cotton jersey fabric which is sourced sustainably from seed to fabric. I read a review that says her clothes are moving artwork.
It’s all about the details, like the stitching. And comfort.
What’s so unique about Natalie Chanin’s process is not only her thoughtful design but her zero waste approach, and her school of making. What is that? They offer workshops where you learn how to make your own special garment. On the day I was there, a class was going on with women from all over the U.S. participating. I can’t show the actual production area but can tell you it was well attended.
And yes, there are stylish sneakers too! Alabama Chanin uses the Converse base, then adds gilding, whipstitching, and jersey ties, and look what you’ve got.
The gilding is part of her newest collection.
I must also share her collaboration with Patagonia. Alabama Chanin takes old jackets and repurposes them, now selling these cool scarves.
My friend said she was stopped on the street in New York City wearing one of these. They are unique.
Did I mention she designs home textiles and tabletop accessories too?
There’s also a cafe that’s open for special events, and there are tours of Alabama Chanin open to the public, so it’s a fantastic day trip from Nashville for those of you who love a stylish retail retreat. And if you go to Florence, you must also visit my good friend Patty Klos who has a lovely upscale jewelry boutique. She had a trunk show at Alabama Chanin while I was there with her new line of Monica Rich Kosann jewelry on display. These pieces are designed to empower and inspire with messages on them.
These beautiful pieces are also carried at Bergdorf’s in New York, but why not shop with Patty if you’re in Florence anyway!!! Her shop, Parker Bingham Jewelers, is in English Village. She’s also on Instagram @parkerbingham.
If you’re wondering, yes, I have a few Alabama Chanin pieces in my wardrobe. Actually my favorite is a skirt I bought years ago and wore for a photo shoot at my house. It’s so comfortable and I wear it year round. This photo was taken in the spring but I would also wear it with a sweater or a jean jacket this time of year.
If this is your style, you can shop on line or better yet, go visit the factory. Check their website for hours, etc. Alabamachanin.com. It’s truly a unique retail retreat that has a soul and style.
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