MAY WEST is a design studio and material research laboratory specializing in milkweed-based textile innovation. We make unisex jackets that use milkweed as an alternative to feather down. MAY WEST is comprised of Alayna Rasile-Digrindakis and Charlotte X.C. Sullivan. Our Western base at the Hi-Altitude Center for Textiles in Montana allows us to rapidly prototype and finalize our designs. Our Eastern base in rural Vermont allows us to responsibly source milkweed and develop best agricultural practices through places like Borderview Farm.
Migration is one of three pillars that support MAY WEST’s mission. As a concept, migration is paramount to our collective biographies. Migration is also essential in the lifespan of the monarch butterfly, a pollinating insect that lays its eggs exclusively on milkweed. Monarch caterpillars will only eat milkweed leaves until they enter their pupal stage.
Monarchs migrate up to 3,000 miles a year. Irresponsible urban development and non-organic farming practices has generated native plant decline which has, in turn, caused an alarming drop in the monarch population. As pollinators, monarchs cultivate healthy ecosystems and contribute to our food security. Reviving and stabilizing their population is a primary goal of MAY WEST. By increasing marketability for milkweed, we encourage farmers and landowners to grow it, helping to provide monarchs the habitat they require for a successful migration.