Alex Crane makes breezy clothes. We choose fabrics, colors and fits that make us feel cool and light.
Breeze is a spirit - it’s a reminder to jump in the ocean and watch the clouds and hum a tune. Because life is worth enjoying (even when it’s sad or painful or boring). And, for better or worse, clothes have a big impact on how we feel.
That spirit extends to our production practices as well - we know we’re only as breezy as our supply chain. We’re committed to making products that are good for the earth and the people involved. We’re not perfect, but we’ll get there.
We love linen and we do it right. Our fit, colors, feel, and quality are unlike anything else out there (most products are scratchy and paper-y). We use long-staple French flax, cut-and-sew in Portuguese and Indian factories known for their craft, and wash with a special blend of biodegradable softeners. The result is supremely soft and breezy, with perfect body and drape.
Linen is breezy. It’s natural (made from flax) and literally keeps you cool: it’s heat-regulating, antimicrobial, doesn’t hold odor and dries super fast. It’s also stain-resistant, stronger than cotton, and gets softer with wear.
Linen is sustainable. Flax needs only sun and rain to grow (no irrigation or fertilizer). It actually improves the land: 1 hectare absorbs almost 4 tonnes of CO2 per year and has a Higgs Index of 57 (that’s really good). Once harvested, the fiber is processed without chemicals or excess water. And, if dyed naturally, linen is 100% biodegradable.
Linen is rare. For all its benefits, linen accounts for only 1% of global apparel production. And that’s not great news for the environment: most clothes (65%) are made with synthetic fibers derived from fossil fuels and 80% end up in landfills or incinerators. So, the more clothes made from linen (and other natural fibers) the lower the industry’s carbon footprint.
Our linen starts in a farming cooperative in Normandy, France. We plant our flax in March and harvest in July. In June, the fields flower blue and the landscape rolls like an impressionist sea. In August, we let the sun and rain separate the fibers from the stalk (a process called “dew retting).
Once dried and packed, we truck the fibers to the French coast and load them onto boats. For the next month, they sail down the Atlantic, stopping first in Portugal (where we make our Sun Tees), then around the tip of Africa, through the Arabian Sea, and onto Kochi, India.
In Kochi, the fibers head to our mill, a 200-year-old Irish company with operations in India. The mill is Oeko Tex certified and 80% carbon neutral. At the mill, we spin the fibers into yarn and weave the yarn into fabric. Some yarns are dyed first (eg, Lines) and some are woven first (eg, Dusk).
Once woven and dyed, we send the fabric to our cut-and-sew facility in Chennai, a 40-year-old factory near the sea. The factory is known for superior quality (ISO 9001) and excellent working conditions (SA 800). There we cut the fabric in thick layers (like cutting pieces of a massive cake), sew them up, and give them a good wash in biodegradable softeners. We inspect, iron and pack up each piece and then load the inventory onto another boat.
Over the next month, the inventory travels back down the Indian Ocean, up the Atlantic, and cruises into the Port of New York. Once through customs, we load onto a truck and send everything to Denton, Maryland, where we receive, store and fulfill every order.
According to the State of New York, Alex Crane started on Feb 6th, 2016.
But we’d say Alex Crane started on a sand dune. Alex was listening to the waves, drawing, and sketched a diamond around his name. We call that the beginning. Or maybe it started much earlier, like when he inherited a sewing machine from his grandma. Or maybe in Bolinas. Or at the Rhode Island School of Design. Or maybe at Jack Spade.
Here’s what’s certain: In 2016, Alex made samples and went to a trade show in Manhattan. And then, thanks to the internet and some truly amazing folks, we started to grow.