The Road to Redemption
There are staggering statistics regarding female incarceration in the United States that are rarely discussed. Many would be surprised to know the majority of women in the justice system are there for nonviolent crimes. About eighty percent of female inmates are mothers and the bulk of those released will end up re-incarcerated within three years. What does this have to do with a well-made t-shirt, you ask? Plenty.
Road Twenty-Two is a San Francisco-based garment brand devoted to wardrobe basics crafted for exceptional fit paired with a remarkable mission that lends opportunity to recently incarcerated women looking to better their situation. Its namesake is derived from the road leading from the Central California Correctional Facility—the largest of its kind in the world. Co-Founders Fif Ghobadian and Alice Larkin Cahan saw the challenges facing women seeking to recover from their experience in the justice system. Upon release ex-inmates are sent into the world with just two hundred dollars and a record marred by their paid debt to society, deeming them undesirable socially and professionally. Road Twenty-Two endeavors to refocus garment production to essential, beautifully made clothing that supports women as they reenter society.
Fif Ghobadian was familiar with being faced with the need to start over with barriers to success. Her family, who fled a revolution in their home country of Iran, came to California only to experience rejection and eventually bankruptcy. London-born Alice Larkin Cahan, on the other hand, was bred from a design pedigree: her mother, a fashion buyer and her father, a design consultant. After diving into a Styling career in San Francisco, Larkin noticed a lack of quality separates that offer a consistently ideal fit. The two minds collided and birthed Road Twenty-Two and its dual mission for quality garment essentials grounded with a social purpose.
With a thoughtfully curated collection, men and women can shop Road Twenty-Two’s playful accessories, t-shirts and sweatshirts online or in one of the more than fifty boutique and shop locations across the country carrying the brand. The t-shirts and sweatshirts, offered in both neutral solids and boasting whimsical images, manage to evoke a casual sophistication only made possible by careful construction and high quality. The accessories consist of scarves woven by women in Nepal, bags created by resettled refugee women in Dallas Texas and jewelry hand-carved by fair trade artisans in Cambodia.
Serving as the backbone of this brand is its integrity in the production process, which is sustainable, of course, and entirely US made. From fabric sourcing, to dying, sewing and printing, every step of Road Twenty-Two’s production takes place in California. In addition to shoppable product, the Road Twenty-Two website offers the opportunity to get to know some of the women working to bring these exceptional basics to you and how the opportunity has helped them turn their life in a positive direction through on-the-job training and a little self-worth that goes a long way.
Road Twenty-Two’s worthy intentions begs the question, why isn’t all fashion so deeply rooted in social consciousness? For most of us, wearing something lovely is a given but wearing something lovely with an equally lovely story of how it came to drape on your body could easily become the new standard for fashion.
Text by Jennifer Moulaison