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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Visit to Alabama Chanin – Part I: Overview

A visit to Alabama Chanin in Florence, Alabama

This was a wonderful conclusion to our August vacation to New Orleans.  AND, my hubby even suggested it, saying: “Wasn’t there someplace in northern Alabama that you wanted to go to sometime?”  Uh – YEAH!  So a quick hour detour later, we found the Alabama Chanin place of business: The Factory – so named because it had previously been a garment factory.his business offers not only the most amazing hand-made garments, but also housewares, jewelry, AND – a wonderful Cafe!  Honestly, the lunch I had there was better than our VERY fancy lunch at the renown Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.

My Blog Posts this Week will cover…

Part I will acquaint you with the Factory in general – an introduction to this most wonderful place, where SLOW is the mantra.

Part II will cover The Home with Alabama Chanin (AC) look

Part III  & IV will show the amazing Clothing Collection

Part V will survey the textural masterpieces UP CLOSE.

Alabama Chanin Factory Store

Store details

Some History of Alabama Chanin

Founder Natalie Chanin  is part of the zero-waste fashion movement.  Natalie “Alabama” Chanin was born and raised in Florence, Alabama. She has a degree in Environmental Design with a focus on industrial and craft-based textiles from North Carolina State University. After graduation, Chanin worked in the junior sportswear industry on New York’s Seventh Avenue, before moving abroad. For the next decade, she worked as a stylist and costume designer, traveling the globe.  

Her design company uses 100% organic cotton jersey fabric in their designs, which is sourced sustainably from seed to fabric.  Chanin’s “open source” philosophy means that patterns and techniques for her garments are openly available through books and workshops. Be sure to check out her official website:  Click HERE for an example of the stencils, etc. that she shares so that you can duplicate her ‘look’.

It was explained to us by the tour guide that Natalie yearned for a slow, simple life and to provide a way for the folk of her home town, Florence, Alabama, to be able to use their skills to make a living wage.  Indeed, she has accomplished that – and more.  The company began in early 2000 with the creation of hand-sewn garments made from cotton jersey fabric. Pieces are made to order (6-8 weeks lead time) from 100% organic cotton, sewn by hand through a group of artisans using a cottage industry method of operation.  Here is how it works as I recall it being explained: 

  1.  An order for a specific garment in the ‘line’ is received.

  2. A ‘Kit’ of everything it will take to create that garment is assembled and given a price.

  3. The artisans interested (they have about 24 of them currently – and many of specialties), then place bids to purchase the kit and to create the ordered garment according to the design specifications. So – to do that, they have calculated how much time it will take them to do the work – from their home.  They are deciding how much they will ‘earn’.

  4.  I wasn’t given an exact answer, but enough of an answer to then determine that a regular 100% markup is placed on th