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Dressing For One

Tennessee-based clothing line launches campaign that celebrates powerful Southern women.

There is a trend in America today that encourages people to question the source of their food. Is it organic? Is it natural? Is it pesticide-free? We ask these questions every day when making decisions about what to put in our stomachs. Not as frequently, however, do we inquire about what we put on our body. Ongeleigh Underwood of Temperate Clothing is working to change that. With the unveiling of her company’s “Power of One” campaign this fall, Underwood is aspiring to bring attention to organic, locally sourced fashion in the South.

Drawing from her background of environmental studies and art, Underwood has developed her own chic, eco-friendly clothing line that’s ideal for the Southern woman, featuring light material, hand-dyed fabric and one-of-a-kind craftsmanship. “A Southern woman is a very complicated woman,” Underwood explains. “I always try to keep the Southern mindset in mind.”

Initially operated out of her house, Temperate got a home of its own this past summer with the opening of a studio in the up-and-coming St. Elmo neighborhood of Chattanooga. Inside this brick-and-mortar establishment, Underwood draws upon her street scene sketches from travels and people watching, in addition to unique shapes, colors and ideas from the great outdoors, to design and sew timeless styles geared for a temperate, two-season climate.

Temperate Clothing features powerful Southern women in its “Power of One” campaign, which kicked off September 22 with an interview with Margot McNeeley (pictured at top). McNeeley is the founder of Memphis-based Project Green Fork, a nonprofit established in 2008 to reduce environmental impacts in the restaurant business with a goal of supporting homegrown restaurants. Underwood asked McNeeley a few questions on the Temperate blog and included photographs of McNeeley rocking Temperate clothing.

SLFColl2Each Monday throughout the five-week campaign, Underwood will continue to feature Southern women who are advocating for change — including Anne Davis, managing attorney at Southern Environmental Law Center, Carlie Bullock-Jones, founder of Ecoworks Studio in Atlanta, Victoria McCullough, a Nashville political consultant, and Karen Rudolph, program officer at the Lyndhurst Foundation in Chattanooga. Like McNeeley’s, each feature will include an interview and a relaxed photo shoot highlighting the clothing line.

Underwood’s goal for the campaign is to put the spotlight on these successful, influential women and their causes. “They don’t get a lot of the credit they deserve,” Underwood says. “A lot of the jobs they do are both thankless and wonderful.”

Much like the women she is featuring in her company’s campaign, Underwood is a change-maker. She uses organic cotton, which is spun and milled by textile mills in the Southeastern United States, to produce her “clothing you can fall in love with.” She then adds color to the fabric by choosing plants for her large-scale dyeing, a process that can take over a week. Once the fabric is dry, she makes each piece herself in her studio or contracts the work out to female seamstresses in her area. “It’s nice to have other women involved in this process,” she adds.

Although the process is time consuming, one-of-a-kind pieces are the outcome — something certainly sought after by the Southern woman with a penchant for fashion. Underwood produces only limited-edition collections, resulting in just a handful of people owning the line’s garments. “Power of One” serves as a highlight of Temperate’s autumn/winter line while also asking the question can one person change the way people think about where their clothing is not only constructed, but also sourced?

Photos courtesy of Temperate. 

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