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How Do You Make a Zero-Carbon Apparel Collection, Without Electricity & Entirely by Hand?

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Angel Chang spinning cotton in Guizhou Province, China
Angel Chang spinning cotton in Guizhou Province, China

As a designer, Angel Chang had a strong desire to shift towards more meaningful and consciously made clothes. In 2008 as the United States experienced a recession, it was important to her to offer deeper connections with the things she designed. Today meet Angel Chang, the creative force behind Atelier Angel Chang. With a mission to create zero-carbon apparel, preserve tradition, promote sustainability, and empower communities, Angel Chang's unique approach to fashion is exemplified in her collaboration with artisans from Guizhou, China, where the fabric-making process is deeply rooted in tradition, love, and protection for the family.

Fabrics drying on clothes line for Angel Chang Collection
Fabrics for Angel Chang Collection

⁣"Our founder and designer @angelchang_ spinning cotton in Guizhou province, rural China. Driven by the dream to create entirely hand-made, it took her 3 years to find grandmothers who still carried the knowledge of hand-spinning cotton into thread. It was the last missing link we needed to resolve in order to make 100% handmade clothing.⠀ Only native-seed organic cotton can be hand-spun into thread (because GMO cotton is engineered for machine-spinning and breaks when spun by hand). Hand-spun yarn is extremely rare to find today. By supporting it, you are keeping an entire chain of traditional knowledge alive that dates back to Paleolithic times." From Angel Chang's Instagram post

close up button Details from Angel Chang Design
Details from Angel Chang Design

The Essence of Guizhou Fabric

Guizhou, a province in China, holds a rich tradition of fabric-making that has been passed down through generations. Angel Chang recognizes the intrinsic value and innocence in Guizhou's fabric. The grandmothers and mothers in the community dedicate their time and skills to creating garments with utmost care and love for their families. Every stitch, every detail is meticulously crafted, with no regard for the time spent. These clothes are intended to last a lifetime, embodying a profound connection between the maker and the wearer.

Sustainable Farm-to-Fabric Collection

Inspired by witnessing the farmers in Guizhou creating their own clothing from locally grown cotton, Angel Chang saw an opportunity to create a unique farm-to-fabric collection. She recognized the importance of preserving traditional knowledge and supporting the community that produced it. The production process is entirely natural, with everything grown organically, and the production itself is done by hand. This sustainable approach ensures zero-carbon apparel, and minimal environmental impact while honoring the region's cultural heritage.

photos of Some best sellers from Angel Chang
Some best sellers from Angel Chang

Empowering the Community

Angel Chang's commitment goes beyond preserving tradition; it extends to empowering the community and ensuring the longevity of these valuable skills. The designer understands that the next generation needs to embrace this traditional knowledge more readily, posing a risk of losing it forever within a decade. To counter this, Angel Chang actively seeks to engage with the local community, providing support and opportunities for artisans to continue their craft. By creating a market for their unique fabrics and collaborating with the artisans, the designer enables the transmission of skills and provides a sustainable livelihood for the community.

The Indigo Dye process: "At ANGEL CHANG, our handwoven fabric is dyed using natural indigo leaves (Strobilanthes cusia) that grows wild along the rivers and in the fields of Guizhou province. (This is the real indigo, not the synthetic chemical version that all blue jeans are now made from.)"

Our grandmothers follow the same medicinal plant dye recipes that their ancestors have practiced for thousands of years. Each month, the color will vary depending on the temperate and humidity in the air. In the winter, the color is very faint. In the summer, it's a deep rich blue." From Angel Chang IG

A call to action

The story of Angel Chang and her collaboration with Guizhou artisans serves as a call to action for the fashion industry and consumers alike. It reminds us of the importance of preserving traditional craftsmanship, embracing sustainability, and supporting communities that are the guardians of such precious skills. By investing in a fashion statement that values heritage and community, we can preserve cultural diversity and promote a more sustainable and meaningful fashion industry.

Angel Chang Spring/Summer 2023 Collection
Angel Chang Spring/Summer 2023 Collection

A recent angelchang.official Instagram Post, sharing their excitement:

"We had a fashion show! After 10 years of development, we presented the ANGEL CHANG Spring/Summer 2023 collection at Pace Gallery during New York Fashion Week. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This zero-carbon collection was made without electricity, seed-to-button, entirely by hand using only plants that could be grown on land or foraged from the mountain forest. Each piece took 5-6 months to make because it followed the cycles of nature and never touched a machine. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ THANK YOU @pacegallery @fairfaxdornprojects@wearenazar @humanmerelybeing @georgewmacpherson@cgoppelnyc for believing in me, and joining me on this crazy wild ride. 🙏❤️ It was amazing working together!!!"

A Guizhou Artisan
A Guizhou Artisan


Angel Chang's partnership with the artisans of Guizhou showcases the power of fashion to transcend mere trends and become a force for positive change. Through her sustainable farm-to-fabric collection, she honors tradition, protects the environment, and empowers a community facing the risk of losing its cultural heritage. By embracing such designers and consciously choosing sustainable and ethical fashion, we can make a meaningful impact on both a personal and global level, ensuring the preservation of invaluable traditions for future generations.

These are the types of apparel brands that inspire us and demonstrate what is possible. Yes, this process isn't easy, and it is slow...but this is the new approach, a healthier process, and a way for us as consumers to really see and feel how this method of creating can bring us more joy and meaning to what we put on our bodies.

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Designers Collaborating
Designers Collaborating


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I'm a 25+ year fashion industry design professional, and I'm passionate about supporting conscious designers, ethical makers, and sustainability. I believe that fashion can be a powerful force for good, and I'm committed to helping aspiring fashion industry pros make their mark in this exciting and ever-changing field. 


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