Alex learned early on the damaging effects of conventional cotton. “We thought there must be a better way which would be more sustainable and looked for other resources in the textile market,” he told Ecouterre. “This was a revelation. The products [are now] elevated with much less impact on the environment.”
Looking for other ways to reduce their carbon footprint, the Lehrs began working with Rowan Ricketts, a Bloomington, Ind.-based textile artist who grows indigo plants from seed and converts them into dye.
“It was incredibly sad to see the fallout as factories that had been family-owned for generations downsized and closed,” Alex said.
“We dye with Roland exclusively now as it is 100 percent natural and eco-friendly,” Alex said. “It limits us to different shades of blue, but it’s our favorite color.”
While American Colors’ process is a meticulously considered one, much of the inspiration for its designs derive from the Lehr family’s day-to-day adventures.
“We spend a lot of our time traveling and the collection is based on travel and making the perfect pieces for a weekend getaway,” Alex said. “We always focus on the softness in the materials we choose and making silhouettes that are comfortable and stylish.”
Having lived through the manufacturing exodus of the ’80s and ’90s, when many companies took their production overseas in search of cheaper labor, Alex affirms that “made in the U.S.A.” is a vital part of the brand’s identity.
“It was incredibly sad to see the fallout as factories that had been family-owned for generations downsized and closed,” he said. “We felt compelled to do our part to continue producing our products domestically. In addition to supporting jobs in this country, we feel the quality is far superior.”
Like his father did with him almost 20 years ago, Alex involves his and Shannon’s three children in the American Colors business.
“Whether we are planning a photoshoot on an early Saturday morning and bringing the kids with us to help, or packing boxes to ship to the Henry Lehr stores in the Hamptons, we are working together and supporting one another,” he adds.