he movement of producing sustainable, environmentally mindful, American made clothing and fiber has been a growing topic of discussion, especially here in Central Oregon. Asking where our clothing is coming from and who is making it is becoming more common, and the discussion continues with the 140-year-old Imperial Stock Ranch in Shaniko, Oregon, producer of sustainable and natural wool, yarn and apparel. Jeanne Carver, part owner of Imperial Stock Ranch, has become an advocate for sustainable fiber production and has promoted, marketed and created collaborations with local fiber artists and designers in order to change the way we see fiber and ranch industry. “What got us interested in this vein of production was simply about survival,” Carver explains. “The wool industry was crashing in the late ‘90s and buyers didn’t think the ranching industry was relevant anymore. Obviously they did not know wool as the ‘miracle fiber’ that it is and how important it actually is to maintain.” Tremendous obstacles including changing commodity markets, loss of processing and manufacturing infrastructure for textiles and the growing pressures from meat imports, the economic viability of raising sheep was severely threatened. The Carvers began creating retail products from their raw commodities as a way to maintain the presence of sheep as a vibrant part of Imperial Stock Ranch. Though Carver’s formal studies were not in agriculture or marketing, she has been able to attach the power of where these products come from and highlights the importance of the ranch’s heritage and nurturing of the land.
54 Bend FASHION Quarterly•fall 2016
FROM JEWELRY TO HATS & FASHIONS IN BETWEEN STORY BY TORI YOUNGBAUER & MAGDALENA BOKOWA
JEANNE CARVER SUSTAINABLE FIBER