The use of "Nude" as a color descriptor at Alabama Chanin has changed. The new color is "Ballet". I am not sure when the change occurred, but I am glad to see that it has happened.
When I originally saw the new Alabama Chanin Collection I loved it. This post originally raved about it with photos and praise. I later spent more time looking at the collection and reading the descriptions.
The Magdalena Gustav coat is one of the many garments "available and shown here in 'nude'". It is rather disappointing to see such a narrow color description. After a week of supportive Civil Rights Movement and MLK posts in their journal, this racially exclusive description saddens me. It put a pin in my earlier enthusiasm about the collection. This is not a universally nude color and seeing it described there as such makes me feel like these garments are not meant for me, a person of color. When that is added to the price, it further draws a line under who these designs are for. Perhaps simply calling it beige, sand, taupe, light toast, might be less insensitive? I wonder how a Caucasian person would feel to see a chocolate brown dress coded as "nude".
I am not one to throw stones and hide. So, I optimistically wrote the company, and hoped that they will make a change to this descriptor. After an insufficient response from a staffer, I sent a follow-up message and finally received a detailed follow-up message from Natalie Chanin herself who acknowledged the inappropriate name, but has no plans to correct it based on the way business works. The specifics of her response were surprisingly dismissive and hurtful. It broke my heart.
Based on her response I wrote a detailed explanation of why I am pulling my support for the company (something she invited me to do). It included references from my graduate education in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and my years as an Equal Employment Opportunity, Sexual Harassment Investigator. It touched on white privilege, institutionalized racism and personal responsibility to change things. In the end, I decided not to post it. It is unnecessary to intellectualize concepts that should be so basic. My response to it all is to simply say: I will no longer support this company. We have vastly different views on the appropriate response to racial bias and exclusion.
I am very proud of the work I have done to this point using their patterns and stencils; I have learned much. I have a hard time however, "loving my thread" and investing extensive time and money in this company moving forward. I will not direct my hard earned money to a company that devalues my essence. You may not see me, but I see you. Luckily for those of us who enjoy hand-sewing, there are many other patterns, stencils and sources of fabric from which to choose.
Happy (inclusive, sensitive, considerate) Sewing,