Category Archives: THE SCHOOL OF MAKING

NEW LOGO. NEW LABEL.

New Look.  New Decade.

December 23rd marks 10 years Alabama.

Help us celebrate:

Receive 20% on all orders over $150 from our online stores with the code HAPPYHOLIDAYS20 and also receive a 100% organic cotton Alabama Chanin tote (with our new label) as our way of saying THANK YOU for an amazing decade.

Happy Holidays from all of us @ Alabama Chanin

JULIE GILHART + THE DALAI LAMA

Many of my regular readers know a bit about my history… but to sum it up for those of you that are new:

In the year 1999, I took (what I thought to be) a four month sabbatical from my life and loves in Vienna, Austria. Beginning on an island off the northern coast of Venezuela, my plan was to end my travels in New York City, spend one month, then go home to Vienna.  That never happened.

I went to New York City, one month became two, two months became three and – obviously – I never moved back to Vienna.  In the course of my extended sabbatical, I cut apart and reconstructed a t-shirt and a company called Project Alabama was born.  The history of Project Alabama and my subsequent move to Alabama Chanin has been well documented – no need to elaborate.  However, the simplified version above skips over so many, many people who are intricate to making Alabama Chanin the company that it is today.

Julie Gilhart from Barneys New York is one of these people.  She came to a make-shift “showroom” in the Hotel Chelsea and that first collection of recycled t-shirts came to life.  She consequently went out into the fashion industry and told everyone she met about the work.  Julie and the amazing buyers at Barneys have bought, sold and paid for every subsequent collection since the year 2001 – including the difficult time during the transition from Project Alabama to Alabama Chanin.

I luckily have had the opportunity to get to know Julie Gilhart over the last decade and the honor to call her “friend.”  And through this friendship, I heard the following story about a year ago:

It was the year 2000 and Julie had taken some time at the end of the year to hear a lecture from the Dalai Lama. After this amazing experience, she returned to her office at Barneys early in 2001 to be confronted with a pile of fashion week invitations and catalogs that covered the span of her desk and reached above eye-level.  The sheer amount of information was overwhelming.  She sat there looking at the pile, wondering where to start when a colleague from Barneys stopped by her office.  The visitor picked up a brochure from the Dalai Lama that Julie had lying on her desk, thumbed through and remarked, “This is everything we don’t do.”  Julie looked at the colleague, replied, “You are right.  We have to get out-of-here right now.”  She looked at the pile of invitations and catalogs on her desk, reached for a random item and pulled out a hand-made catalog from a new company:  Project Alabama.

Consequently, Julie called the number on the catalog, took a cab to the Hotel Chelsea, and Alabama Chanin came to life on that day.

Amazing to me that a decade of work can come from one simple moment of faith and belief…  stemming from a committed, brilliant, beautiful, rich, spiritual, whole, funny, light, surfing, friend of a woman.

Since those simple beginnings in 2000, I have had the opportunity to lecture and hold workshops around the globe on sustainability in design and to act as an expert in the fields of micro-economics and the use of local labor.  Alabama Chanin and me, Natalie Chanin, are what we are today because of the unfettered belief and support of Julie Gilhart. I am deeply indebted.

Julie’s recent departure from Barneys New York marks a new milestone in her own personal journey; a journey that I am sure will be filled with richness and beauty.

**T-shirt #90  “Sister Shirt” – shown above – was part of that very first collection and photographed by me.

VICTIMS, ENEMIES + OLD FRIENDS

 

Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil have become friends (and, in some cases, family) over the last years and we were able to convince (well, a couple of) them to model – and play – at the photo shoot for our new menswear catalog.  Today, congrats go out to Doc & The Devils for their lovely new album:  Victims, Enemies & Old Friends.

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SUBTRACTION CUTTING SCHOOL + TIMO RISSANEN

Subtraction Cutting School (published by the Center for Pattern Design) first came to my attention one afternoon in New York City when I had the chance to sit and talk with Timo Rissanen.  That afternoon, Timo had just moved to New York and began his post as Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability at Parsons The New School for Design.  Our conversation was fascinating and he followed our talk with a great email, a reading list and some links to his favorite sites.

One of my favorite parts of the conversation was Julian Roberts’ site and, consequently, I have become obsessed with Subtraction Cutting School.

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HOPE IN BARBECUE

Our friend and hero John T. Edge knows that there is “Hope in barbecue.”

Check out the great interview from Nightline: Barbecue Heaven

“We have this burden of the past upon us. We’ll deal with that history. But we’re looking for opportunities, we’re looking for places to deal with that history. And I think one great place to deal with that, to sit across from our fellow man, is a barbecue restaurant…I think there’s hope in barbecue.”

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THANK YOU.

Thank you for coming for a visit.

Thank you to everyone who showed patience today as our new website launched.

Thank you for all the kind emails.

Thank you to everyone who has made the launch of this new site a reality.

Thank you to all the staff and artisans at Alabama Chanin.

Thank you to friends and family.

Thank you to Lisa Eisner and Roman Alonso.

Thank you to everyone at Commune, NoFavorite and GAS Studio.

Thank you.