Project Alabama is one of my favorite apparel lines for many reasons. The story is so rich and the product so remarkable. The silhouettes are absolutely stunning. The "fabrics" that they are made out of are one of kind, hand-crafted masterpieces. Natalie Chanin is the designer who came home to her native Alabama, created the unique "fabrics" by layering old tee shirts, one on top of another, cutting away pieces out of the top layer to reveal the fabrics and color beneath and finally hand stiched around each motif to create the overall pattern. What resulted brings the idea of "2nd life", recycled products to a new and luxurious level, never before achieved to this extent in an apparel line. Highly labor intensive to make, Chanin also had an economic goal in mind when she created her fabrics, patterns and garment designs. She wanted to create a local, cottage industry for the many women (and one man) in her home town and outlying areas, that leveraged their traditional skills and talents as sewers and quilters. In addition to utilizing their unique crafting skills, Chanin's goal was to create a thriving, cottage industry to help heal the devasted local economy due to the closure of the local apparel factories, as jobs went offshore in the wake of NAFTA.
Beautifully crafted, singularly unique garments have meant that Project Alabama has done very well to say the least, selling at exclusive stores like Fred Segal in Los Angeles, getting nominated for the Smithsonian National Design Award and as well as gracing the covers of tons of prestigious fashion magazines. Additionally, the community that creates Project Alabama is also thriving, creating one-off, hand-crafted masterpieces that are numbered and signed by each artisan. The pieces are expensive, exquisite and ethical all at the same time.
But, unfortunately, I can't afford a piece. Until now. Project Alabama is doing a fabulous tee shirt to help support the Habitat for Humanity efforts in rebuilding New Orleans. Cut and sewn in the tradition of their famous and more elaborate pieces, the white and cream tee shirt that says HOPE is only $50, with all the proceeds going to the relief effort. I bought two as quickly as I could type and they arrived yesterday in this beautiful package, wrapped in recycled tissue paper and tied with a piece of tee shirt fabric. It felt special and valuable, as was the tee inside. I am thrilled to now own a beautiful tee from such a terrific company, with all the money I spent, going to a great cause. I would highly recommend getting their HOPE tee before they are gone! It's great to have another reason to totally love Project Alabama some more!