Save The Last Chance For Me

One part dependable accessory, one part road companion, Last Chance Textiles are here for you.

BY KIT WARCHOL
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAGGIE SHANNON

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I’m in a packed coffee spot in Northeast Los Angeles, watching 20-somethings cut into towering slices of avocado toast and wondering whether I’ve made a bad call. I’ve picked this place for a blind meet-up with Lindsey Fout of Last Chance Textiles, and as I glance around at a least a dozen women in deadstock Levi’s and hand-dyed linen, I realize we’ve never even exchanged numbers.

Turns out, there’s no need to worry. Maybe it’s because when she walks in she scans the room with an open gaze that practically shouts “not from here.” Or maybe it’s her signature red hair, that’s less a shock than it is a subtle wash of color. Either way, Fout looks exactly like a woman who’s in the business of hand-dyed bandanas.

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That’s what Last Chance is: bandanas, pure and simple, subtle and memorable. There are kona cotton bandanas made with fiber-reactive dyes. There are raw silk bandanas dyed with natural materials like acorns, osage, and rust. And Fout pushes everything a step further, drawing on her background in textile design to create prints that feel nostalgic—she lights up as she tells me about the wild rags worn by American cowboys starting in the 1800s. They’re bandanas, writ large.

Fout grew up on a farm in West Virginia near the Appalachians in what she describes as a “very close-knit” community. To get there, you fly into Washington D.C., then take a three-plus-hour drive. And she’s no stranger to craftsmanship. Her parents still live in the house that they built by hand (her dad’s a carpenter) in their twenties. And then, of course, there’s the long textile tradition in that area. “Now that I look back, it makes so much sense,” she says, “The Appalachian coverlets. The hand-loomed rugs.”

Eventually her interest in craft and textiles would lead her to studying fashion design. Ultimately, she’d relocate to California to study surface design, which she credits for teaching her the technical skills she’d need to design patterns but also for encouraging a “re-examination of printing and dying,” which would lead her to starting Last Chance two years ago.

As we chat, it’s easy to picture any of the 501-clad women near us in one of her designs, but Fout had a different context in mind when she designed them: she was designing something you can pack in and pack out.

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“At first I thought I wanted to do high-end scarves. But that’s not something that I myself spend money on,” she says, “I’ve always had this love for the outdoors, and in college, I remember hiking in silk scarves because they were a light thing I could take with me.”

It was the perfect intersection of beautiful and practical. “At the time, I wore them so I could still feel cute while backpacking,” she says with a laugh, “But ultimately, that was how I discovered the practicality of silk, how light it is, how warm it is, how cool it is, too.”

She sweats in her raw silk creations and uses the cotton ones to clean dishes on camping trips. She tells me that a friend recently sent her a photo of his Last Chance bandana covered in road dust after a bike tour of Baja. Her dad wears them while he’s working on their farm. From the way she lights up talking about it, you get the sense that if you’re not getting them dirty, you’re not doing it right.

Fout’s after an almost paradoxical patina—that sweet spot between long-lasting and battle-worn. “Last Chance” comes from her first forays into camping in the Sierra Nevadas. She’d drive past signs warning “no service for 100 miles,” and hold her breath for a minute, terrified of an empty gas tank, but exhilarated by the uncharted road ahead. It’s that feeling she’s after—she’s making bandanas that will stick with you when there’s nothing else around.