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Project Alabama Drinks the Green T

Renata Espinosa
January 25th, 2008 @ 12:30 AM - New York

The number of products touting their eco-friendliness these days is staggering, whether they're about being organic, using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes or demanding socially responsible labor practices.

For Project Alabama, a clothing label founded in 2000 by Natalie Chanin and Enrico Marone-Cinzano, sustainability was important from the get-go. Tapping local Alabama quilters and seamstresses to create unique pieces that were the clothing equivalent of a lovingly handmade quilt, Project Alabama took the cottage industry concept and turned it into fashion before it became trendy.

Now, Project Alabama is taking eco-consciousness one step further with a new range of t-shirts called "Green T," designed by Project Alabama's current creative director and designer Shannon Schmalfeldt. The 100 percent cotton shirts, each one-of-a-kind, use recycled fabric, water soluble dyes and hang tags and labels hand printed on recycled fabric.

Schmalfeldt, recently engaged and planning a completely eco-friendly wedding ("My whole family is going to the work on the dress - every inch is embroidered with beads!"), said that her frequent trips to India, where the Project Alabama collection is now produced, have been inspirational. "In India, they re-use everything," she said.

The Spring/Summer 2008 collection features hand-stiched appliques, embroidery, beading, stencil cut-out and prints of Victorian influenced imagery, such as birds, plants and flowers, insects and postcard letters. On one shirt, Schmalfeldt reprinted a letter she found in a thrift store about a woman reconnecting with her long-lost adopted family.

Schmalfeldt also collaborated with two graffiti artists, John Tindel and Michi of TindelMichi. Alabama-born and Atlanta-based and self-described as "two fat southern boys that paint," it's their first fashion collaboration. Painterly woodgrain prints and a parody of the current skulls-on-everything obsession form the basis for their designs for Project Alabama.

Shirts from the Green T collection retail for $137.50 and will be available at Neiman Marcus, Anthropologie and Fred Segal.

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