Natalie Chanin is a champion of the slow design movement. She also happens to make documentary films, is a mother of two, an avid gardener and enthusiastic cook. Oh, and yes, she’s the owner and designer of Alabama Chanin. I’m honored to call her my new friend.
Natalie and I recently struck up a conversation about her denim collection for Alabama Chanin.
I'm really diggin' the new denim collection Natalie. All is grown-to-sewn right here in America, right?
Yes, it’s been a long time coming but it’s great to be able to say (write) that we are grown-to-sewn in America – and, really, in the south. The fiber we use comes from out your way – grown by a great group of artisanal farmers in Texas. They are really doing great things and, at the same time, growing a great product. Good. Good. From Texas, the ginned fiber moves to Tennessee for spinning, on to South Carolina and then on to us for cutting and sewing. After the sewing process, we send the completed pieces to New York for the indigo dyeing. So yes, grown-to-sewn in America!
What was the influence in the designs?
You know, I really design for myself. I like clothes that are sexy, comfortable, sustainable and easy to work into my life. So, you mix that with Americana, a few pieces that would be considered “typical denim,” translate that with our artisans and a bit of cotton jersey and there you go.
How did the collaboration with Goods of Conscience come about?
I heard about Father Andrew and Goods of Conscience from the American Craft Council. I had been thinking about indigo as a viable dyeing method for some time but had not been able to master it myself. I was grateful and excited to meet and visit the church! And I love that the pieces have to “go-to-church” before they are shipped.
Can we walk through the dying process?
Father Andrew once told me that running the indigo vat was like “making beer.” Indigo grows as a plant all through the south – they harvest theirs from a collective in South America. The plant is fermented in a vat and the fabric/clothing is then dipped. More time, more often dipped, the darker the fabric. The vat is actually living and has to be tended – as Father Andrew said – a bit like beer.
Who are the women who wear Alabama Chanin denim?
Every woman should be wearing Alabama Denim…smile & thanks for chatting with me Chris.