From left: Natalie Chanin, Mark Davis, Britt Cosgrove, and Marina Polo
Natalie Chanin is finally receiving the industry-wide recognition she deserves. The sustainability pioneer, founder of the Florence, Ala.-based Alabama Chanin apparel label, was named Tuesday afternoon as the grand-prize winner of the 2013 CFDA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge. The now-annual accolade, which includes a $75,000 purse, is awarded to designers who best demonstrate their “commitment to ecologically responsible and sustainable design/production.” “Thank you, this is a huge honor,” Chanin said at the ceremony, held at New York City’s ABC Kitchen. “This will fund my new collection. So exciting.”
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Supermodel Amber Valletta, one of the judges.
The money couldn’t have come at a better time. Alabama Chanin is in the midst of expanding its design and production studio, affectionately known as “The Factory,” to include a new 5,000-square-foot event space, one that will not only serve as the label’s workshop headquarters but also house its flagship store and a full-service café.
The firm is also gearing up for the launch of A. Chanin, a line of 100 percent organic-cotton jersey garments made on machines in Florence Industrial Park.
The firm is also gearing up for the launch of A. Chanin, a line of 100 percent organic-cotton jersey garments stitched on machines in Florence Industrial Park. Despite the seemingly antithetical of machine-based manufacturing to Alabama Chanin’s handmade, artisan spirit, Chanin is confident the new collection will make ethically produced, American-made clothing available to a wider audience.
“This community once thrived in the textile industry and if Alabama Chanin can help bring back even a tiny part of that business, it would make me proud, like I’m leaving behind something sustainable for my daughter and granddaughter,” Chanin said.
Chanin wasn’t the only honoree at the event. Runners-up Britt Cosgrove and Marina Polo of Svilu, as well as jeweler Mark Davis went home with $5,000 each. ABC Carpet & Home’s “Embody” boutique on the mezzanine level will also feature a selection of pieces from the winning designers.
Equally of note was the selection committee, which comprised such fashion luminaries as supermodel Amber Valletta, fashion consultant Julie Gilhart, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Lisa Smilor.