Contemporary fashion rarely evokes a specific sense of time or place, but the one-of-a-kind garments of Project Alabama are an exception. From 2001-2006, Project Alabama earned rack space in boutiques from Tokyo to New York City and appeared in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and many other publications. All this despite Project Alabama's location in Florence, Alabama, far from the fashion centers of New York or Paris.
The company got its start in 2001, when native Alabaman and former stylist Natalie Chanin needed something to wear to a party in New York City. Chanin deconstructed a t-shirt, cutting it apart and sewing it back together with visible stitches. The one-off shirt was a tremendous success, earning compliments and inquiries about where it was purchased. Based on the success of her spontaneous design, Chanin decided to make similar t-shirts for retail sale. At first, Chanin wanted to produce her t-shirts in New York, but quickly realized that she'd have more success producing garments with a handmade appearance if she hired sewers skilled in hand-sewing techniques. This led Chanin back to Alabama, where handwork, particularly quilting, was still an important part of local culture.