Star Wars stories tend to be about hope and perseverance despite overwhelming odds, a theme shared with the mission-driven Sackcloth & Ashes, which launches its first Star Wars collaboration today.
In 2014, CEO Bob Dalton founded the company during a dark time in his life, when his own mother experienced homelessness. “Prior to my mom being on the streets, I was pretty judgmental toward people on the street corners holding signs and asking for money,” Dalton admits. “It was hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that some of these people weren’t capable of going to get a job. The irony in all of it was that my mom is the hardest working person I know, so it deconstructed my bias. She ended up on the streets due to impulsive decision making and addiction.”
Inspired to do something to help, Dalton called his local homeless shelters to see what could be donated, and they all said “blankets.” Soon after, Dalton got to work and created Sackcloth & Ashes, a company that donates a blanket to a local homeless shelter for each one purchased. Now, nearly 10 years later, “what started as a sewing machine and a roll of fabric has turned into a brand making 15,000+ blankets a month and partnering with iconic brands such as Star Wars,” Dalton says. To date, they’re over a quarter of the way to their goal of donating one million blankets to those in need.
The brand’s latest Star Wars collection pairs simplicity and nostalgia, with silhouetted designs that evoke three of the worlds found in the original trilogy: the sands of Tatooine in Star Wars: A New Hope, the snowy tundra of Hoth from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and the forests of Endor in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
The collection was designed by Jeremy Seick. “Our first challenge when it comes to design is always translating ideas and concepts into something that is weave-able,” Seick says, and for Star Wars he and his team tried some new techniques in the process. “The final product took multiple renditions and several months to accomplish.”
Although a Jedi may not crave adventure, Seick and the design team are fans of exploration and the outdoors, which led them to their inspiration. “We were very inspired by the biomes of Star Wars,” he says. “The rugged landscapes and terrains of Tatooine, Hoth, and Endor really set the scene for the epic journeys that the characters take us on, so we knew that we wanted to pay homage to these places.”
Sackcloth’s yarn palette is created entirely from recycled materials, Seick notes. “Mostly scraps gathered from factory floors and discarded clothing. We save these materials from landfills and give them new life through a remarkable process that dates back almost a century. The old fabric is sorted by color and then broken down through a dry carding process into fibers. These fibers are then blended with other colored fibers to create new colors. No dye or chemicals ever touch our blankets and the whole process is water free. These fibers are then spun into yarn and made into your new Sackcloth blanket. We chose warm desert tones for Tatooine, cool blues and grays for Hoth, and rich greens and earth tones for Endor.”
Next, designers looked to incorporate some character into each weave. “We tried to pinpoint scenes and characters that really stood out in the storytelling process. We love the dynamic duo that is R2-D2 and C-3PO as they argue their way through the desert. This is where their friendship and our love for them begins,” Seick says. “And what is Tatooine without the truly iconic scene of Luke staring longingly into the sunsets? We love that Luke has no idea of the journey that he is about to go on and all of the adventure that stands before him.”
For Empire, the unmistakable hulking silhouette of an AT-AT has been woven in from the Battle of Hoth, with the planet’s three moons and a looming Star Destroyer overhead. Meanwhile, in the homage to Jedi, the hooded outline of Wicket the Ewok stands front and center. “What would the forest moon of Endor be without Ewoks?” Dalton asks, with other details including the shield generator and the second Death Star.
Dalton hopes fans will find comfort in the new line of soft blankets that celebrate the Hero’s Journey. “At some point in our lives we have to leave the place we call home. For some literally, and for some figuratively. It’s leaving that place of comfort and predictability to face the unknown and discover who you are….Now that I’m older I appreciate more than just the characters and the collectibles [of Star Wars]. I appreciate and have deep gratitude for the story.”
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book The Art of Star Wars: The High Republic, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.
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