January 25, 2024

Cozying Up to Natural Fibers with Claire McAndrews Oliver

Episode 19 of The Soft Focus Podcast

If you’ve ever wondered about natural fibers, you are going to love this episode. And I’m not just saying that because today’s guest is my sister, Claire McAndrews Oliver. Claire is a Product Line Manager at Patagonia, and has spent her career working in apparel and understanding the process of imagining a garment and bringing it to life.

Claire and I delve into the world of fiber and apparel, and attempt to shine a light on how the industry works, and why fiber matters. In today’s world, the process of creating a garment is complicated, and can cover several continents. If you want to add another layer of intentionality to your life, maybe start with your closet.

Claire guides me through the following:

  • What are natural fibers?
  • The history and process of synthetic fibers
  • How technical performance changes the fiber landscape
  • Late Bloomer Ranch yarn
  • How wool is keratin-based, just like human hair
  • The performance attributes of natural versus synthetic fibers
  • Why body odor can be impacted by synthetic fibers
  • The sheer number of distinct chemicals required to create polyester
  • How to read your clothing material label
  • The difference between manufactured cellulose and natural cellulose fibers
  • Implications beyond chemicals in fiber processing and production
  • PFAS in clothing production
  • Issues and constrains in regulating the apparel industry
  • Why slow-fashion is more expensive
  • Making consumer choices based on values and first-principles
  • How the downfall of American manufacturing plays into the revival of ethical apparel
  • Opening our eyes to the truth of the manufacturing industry
  • How the apparel industry can be a black box
  • How Claire celebrates regional and ancestral knowledge in the production of natural fibers
  • Fibershed
  • Why Claire likes to shop small brands, for the artistry and commitment to the craft
  • The connection between agriculture and textiles
  • How Claire crafts her closet
  • Why more people need to pick up the craft of tailoring
  • Embracing limitations as inspiration
  • How Claire brings the fun, the art, and creative ways of being back into clothing

Connect with Claire: On instagram @goodchit_

This episode is brought to you by Late Bloomer Ranch, a holistic ranch in the Teton Valley raising meat, eggs, wool, and cut-flowers of the utmost quality with integrity to match. Late Bloomer Ranch has Bloom Boxes for sale— the choicest cuts of meat packaged to ship throughout the lower 48 states. Check out Bloom Boxes, Flower Essences, Yarn & more at latebloomerranch.com

And as always, we’d love to hear from you. Did you love this episode? Did it make you think? Are you revved up to move into the new year with focus on your higher calling? Let us know. Reach out via email hello@latebloomerranch.com or on Instagram @latebloomerranch . And please do rate and review our podcast, and be sure to subscribe.

See you next time.

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