Ramblers Way combines a timeless feel to their apparel and a future-minded approach to production
Everyone knows Tom’s of Maine. I brush my teeth with Tom’s toothpaste every day. Yet, many are still unfamiliar with the encore: a clothing company called Ramblers Way.
Founded in 2009 by Tom Chappell, who also founded Tom’s of Maine, which was sold to Colgate-Palmolive in 2006, Ramblers Way creates responsibly sourced, skillfully crafted, American-made sustainable clothing for women and men. Just as with Tom’s, Ramblers Way is committed to protecting the planet and supporting local economies.
“I think the ultimate goal in this is that we end up making an impact in the industry,” says Eliza Chappell, the VP of retail operations and the women’s wear designer. “I’ll know we’ve made it if we can inspire companies to pursue sustainable practices, create less pollution and provide jobs in America. I don’t care about setting trends; I care about the impact the business has on the world and our environment.”
Despite not aiming to set trends, Eliza Chappell has produced a comprehensive and thoughtful collection of covetable pieces that transcends demographics. The classic and effortless style has a timeless feel and something for every body shape, size and age can be found in the flagship store located at 75 Market Street in Portland. Chappell not only designs the clothes, she designs the interior of each shop as well—down to the fixtures. As items are produced in Kennebunk, any garment you see on the rack can be custom made to meet your sizing and color needs—at no additional cost. Given my 5-foot-1-inch stature, my tailor may be bummed, but I’m particularly thrilled by this fun fact.
The sumptuously soft and comfortably cool Wool Deep V Camisole and Lightweight Linen Pant (which evoke Meghan Markle’s look from Wimbledon) pair seamlessly with the Harvest Tote in Natural from Love Line Baskets to do a little shopping at Crystal Spring Farmers Market in Brunswick. The entire line has a casual ease that belies the difficulties of designing within the sustainability framework.
“The world is not my oyster,” Chappell says. “I cannot pick whatever I feel like because I am thinking about sustainability in every step of the process. With the fiber limitations, for example, I really have to be more thoughtful about what I’m creating.” The fiber she is referring to is Rambouillet Merino Wool, the proprietary yarn used by Ramblers Way exclusively for the first few years of operation; they now also use certified organic Merino wool and pima cotton. The superfine and long staple fibers come from Rambouillet sheep, an American cousin to the better known Merino. The resulting fabric is a clean, smooth and tightly knit yarn, free of itchy fiber ends.
When they claim it’s not itchy, they mean it. You would never know you are wearing wool. I especially love the Wool Deep V Camisole we used in both our looks. It offers a sleek, minimalist and strappy option for transitional layering, lounging and adventuring. I love the thoughtfully placed horizontal bar detail across the back; not only was it beautiful, it also held the straps in place despite the Deep V in the back. A testament to Chappell’s keen attention to detail, the drape of this tank allows it to feel as natural with a pair of shorts on a hot September day as with a pencil skirt and blazer for work. For this look, we paired the camisole with the Reversible Vest. This was, admittedly, a little outside of my normal style purview, but the drape of the vest coupled with the comfortable color pallet invited me to be cautiously adventurous. We found it an ideal layering piece for anyone looking for an alternative to last season’s favorite long sweater coat, worn over sleeves or sleeveless options alike. We love the look of the vest with dark denim, and opted for our go-to jeans from Gingham in Yarmouth, the High Waisted Looker in Clean Sweep by Mother.
“It’s not just about aesthetics, I’m constantly thinking about how I can create less waste in the manufacturing process,” Chappell says. “You’ll notice a lot of lines in my designs. Down the center front and back, for example. The goal with this tactic is to draw your eye in, create longer lines, and minimize the amount of wasted fabric in the cutting process.” Lines are helpful in creating a universally figure flattering shape, and this detail perfectly illustrates the artful balance Chappell manages to strike in each collection she creates between sustainability and fashion. Ramblers Way clearly demonstrates that style and ethics are not mutually exclusive. You can have your cake and eat it too!
For more detailed fit reviews of these items and more Maine fashion, head over to the East Coast Inspired blog, eastcoastinspired.com.
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Amy Power and Amanda Whitegiver are co-founders of East Coast Inspired, a fashion and lifestyle blog. Amy is a mother of two (and the model featured in this column’s photos) who spends her days dreaming of the ultimate craft room and intending to go for a run. Amanda is a lifestyle family photographer who adores dark chocolate and singing with her two daughters.