What started as an experiment in 2009 to discover if clothing could be made completely out of recycled materials has since evolved into a successful sustainable clothing brand over ten years in the making. Liz Alig began experimenting with textiles and design after spending a summer in Kenya teaching sewing skills to young adults who used to live on the street. There, Alig saw firsthand the impact garment production has on people’s well beings — and how it could be used as a force for good. Fast forward ten years, and Liz Alig
continues to deliver on this vision by producing clothing sustainably and fairly, while providing women in developing countries meaningful jobs.
“I have been interested in fair trade for fifteen years ever since I started working with small women’s groups,” explains Alig. Even so, Alig didn’t initially plan to create her own brand. “I never really envisioned myself having my own line, at least not as young as I was,” says Alig. But when she could never find clothing she loved that was designed and produced meaningfully, slowly, and ethically, Alig took it upon herself to fill this gap.
Because of her work in developing countries, Alig had already formed connections and relationships with individuals that would prove crucial in her business journey. Today, Liz Alig partners with over ten cooperatives, entrepreneurs, and fair trade workshops around the world. “These groups range from one woman sewing in their home to small NGOs to larger factories,” explains Alig. “Each one has a unique way they are helping their community or using textiles from their own country.”
But as a sustainable fashion company based out of Indiana, Liz Alig is often misunderstood. “The main thing that is difficult about having a fashion company in Indiana is that most people don’t get it,” states Alig.” They assume it is a lot of photoshoots and runway shows. In all honesty, those things make up a tiny percentage of my work. It is still a lot of emails and communicating with people all around the world. It is more like having a business and less glamorous.”
Yet even with this challenge, Alig continues to persevere and stay true to the brands’ core values. “A large portion of the line is still
produced with recycled materials, but we also incorporate sustainable and handwoven textiles,” observes Alig. And since 2009, Liz Alig has managed to recycle over 50,000 pieces of discarded textiles to be made into new designs.
Alig set out to fill a need in the market and provide hope and jobs to those in developing countries. Seeing her vision come to life makes the challenging times worth it. “It’s rewarding every time I visit a group and see how the women’s lives have changed, and how they are able to use the income they receive,” reflects Alig. “It gives me hope for the fashion industry as a tool for good.”