Natalie "Alabama" Chanin does good work(s). She compiles oral histories of Southern textile workers, salvages old quilts, and is striving to make her business zero-waste. All of the stitchers who create Chanin's (quite literally) homespun garments work from their own houses and live within an hour-and-a-half radius of her family and business base of Florence, Alabama. And they use organic materials grown and produced in the good ole U.S. of A.—a fact proudly announced on the Alabama Chanin label. Is it any wonder she's a Fashion Fund finalist?
This is actually the second time Alabama Chanin, the person, has been in the running. The last time was when she was a partner in Project Alabama (with which she is no longer associated).
"It's tight and succinct," the designer said of her Spring collection, which came in hues of doeskin, earth, blush, ruby, and midnight blue. "It's very clean." You won't find bandage dresses or miniskirts at Alabama Chanin, but that doesn't mean she's not offering something more than just folksy charm: Witness a wrap top with a flyaway back train that offered a peek of skin, for instance. But it's the handwork, of course—the couching, the reverse appliqués, the "Alabama fur" (really strands of thread) —that keeps fans rooting for the home team.