This might be my most favorite piece of clothing I have ever owned, supported, bought, and reviewed. I absolutely love my MELLY and Melanzana company! Whether I’m backpacking, camping, hiking, running, skiing, or climbing, I always have my Melly with me. I admire how supportive Melanzana has been to their community and environment in Leadville, Colorado since they opened up in 1994. They are a small, local company that makes 100% of all of their products right in their store in downtown Leadville. They are transparent about how their products are made, the materials used to make their fleeces, sweats, beanies, and hoodies, and where some of these materials come from. I commend Melanzana for their transparency with consumers and their commitment to staying local in Leadville, which reduces their waste footprint tremendously. I will always proudly wear my Melly, and support companies committed to ethical and sustainable business practices. Melanzana gets a 2.9/3 from me!
Melanzana unendingly amazes me with the information they include on their website related to what their products are made of, who makes it, and how it’s made. Their Polartec fabrics are made entirely in the U.S. with U.S. sources fiber, which is proven, high-quality materials from the industry leader in high-Performace knits for outdoor clothing. They have a “Fabrics” section included on the site with a rating system of each type of fabric used for each of their products. Formerly operating in Massachusetts for over 100 years, Polartec recently moves into a more efficient plant in Tennessee. While Polartec also produces a fabric in mills around the world like Europe, Central America, and China, Melanzana uses only 100% Tennessee-made fabrics. Their fabrics are OEKO-TEX certifies to be free of a long list of harmful chemicals found in many other fabrics, and are also bluesign certified to be produced with an eye towards sustainability. Melanzana even includes a rating scale for each type of fabric they use for each of their products! They rate “breathes & wicks, provides warmth, and protects from the wind” for specific products that are listed next to the fabric. For example, the jacket I have and absolutely LOVE is the Melanzana micro grid hoodie. Next to the microgrid fabric, they have given a rating to the following categories previously listed: a 4 to “breathes and wicks” a 2 to “provides warmth” and a 1 to “protects from the wind” (rating 1 being low and rating 5 being high). How awesome and convenient is that!? This particular product is 100% Polyester, and super -soft lightweight fleece with a grid of open channels for better breathability. Polyester is a synthetic fabric derived from petroleum so there is always some sort of footprint in the refining and synthesizing of the product, but I really love the rating scale they include for their products that can help customers not waste buying more than what they need!
Melanzana manufactures and sells outdoor clothing all under one roof—in downtown Leadville, using only U.S. made-parts and fabric! What a reason to love their company even more. They even have a “How it’s Made” section on their website which is awesome. They are committed to locally brewed apparel which they claim puts quality, soul, and authenticity, before quantity! This is one statement of theirs that I especially respect and commend them for. Rolls of very high-quality Polartec fabric are shipped from their Tennesse mill and piled high in the back of their building where burly LEadvillians roll it out on their 36-foot table and risk their fingers daily to cut mad heaps of material into parts for their products. So, just because their products are manufactured and sold under one roof in Leadville, doesn't mean they don't source the elements of their products elsewhere. I do respect their transparency of where the fabric is shipped from, even though it does mean there is some environmental impact from the product itself. The cut parts are flown up to the sewing machines, where skilled sewers carefully put them all together. Melanzana has been building their team of 20 sewers since 1994, and ramp up production a little bit every year, but according to their website, being in a small mountain town, they are dedicated to a “supportive and healthy family workplace” that can only grow so fast. This section of the company's website shows photos of the workplace environment and some of the people who sew the products together. After their finished goods are “inspected” they are sold upfront in their storefront. Their products sell out very quickly, and In 2011, Melanzana installed a rooftop solar system, and since then, all of their electric power comes directly from the sun. Throughout the years of fast and volatile growth, they have remained dedicated to only producing products on a small and local scale! This is one of my favorite aspects of this company, their willingness, and actions to remain small-scale reduces their impact on the environment and also helps people in the small town with jobs.
Melanzana is a “rare beast of a company,” that was started in 1994 by a young eccentric named Frtiz and his friend Kevco. Fritz wanted to start a business in a small mountain town, not a resort town and made the transformation move to Leadville, Colorado. The original name of the company was named, “Eggplant,” but the name changed to Melanzana [Italian for Eggplant] due to trademark conflict. As the company grew, so did their business for manufacturing what they are best known for microgrid fabric. They have been committed to only manufacturing their products on a small and local scale, and their efforts show. Melanzana is still a single store based that only manufactures and sells outdoor clothing, under one roof in Leadville, Colorado. The town of Leadville is known to be a rugged and physically demanding place to live but also a wonderful small-town community that has made what Melanzana is today. They are devoted to providing sustainable, local jobs, with healthy pay, profit sharing, and health benefits. They also mention that six of their employee-owners are BIPOC, and their workforce reflects the melting pot that is Leadville. In addition, they have a bilingual interpreter on staff and conduct most meetings in two languages! WOW! I am truly amazed and appreciative of Melanzana for being who they are. They also mention on their site, that during the ongoing global pandemic, they paid their entire staff for the 7.5 weeks they were shut down by state order. While their normal manufacturing was halted, they had a part-time crew working on PPE and made over 24,000 face masks many of which were all donated to local essential workers and health care workers. They also donate a portion of their sales in product and cash in support of local causes and events, and in 2019, they donated over $35,000 to organizations like Cloud City Wheelers, The Mineral Belt Trail, Cloud City Conservation Center, Colorado 14ers Initiative, the Colorado Trail Foundation, and many more environmental-service based community organizations. While their products may seem extremely exclusive because they only sell them in one single location, I respect this because it is a major part of their social responsibility of creating as little of an impact on the town and surrounding environment they are based out of. Way to go Melanzana!