F

ounded in 2015, Kastlfel (pronounced Castle-fell) is an apparel brand, whose goal is to make a sustainable difference, by approaching clothing differently. This truly sustainable company takes a lifecycle approach to creating all-around better products in the apparel industry. The team designs and creates extremely durable and wearable garments as a secondary step, only after they’ve made sure the entire manufacturing process is ethically, fairly and sustainably handled. 

“Sustainability is in our DNA. We focus on quality craftsmanship and environmentally friendly production throughout all aspects of our company, from fiber to finished goods. We want consumers to know that how products are made matters."
"That’s why we’re so transparent, in sharing the good, bad and the ugly of the apparel lifecycle, since all apparel manufacturing has some kind of impact.”
-
Jerry Wheeler, founder and CEO of Kastlfel

Take a look at how Colorado-based Kastlfel’s slow approach to fashion may just make an environmental and societal impact pretty fast.

1. The Kastlfel Difference

In Photo: The Kastlfel RecycledSoft™ Collection made using combed ringspun transitional cotton & recycled polyester

You’ll hear the team at Kastlfel market their company by saying they make a difference, simply by making things differently. The company’s line of sustainable apparel draws on innovative technologies that help shrink its footprint, save time, money, and give them freedom to bring more value to their customers.

“Everything we do is aimed at producing the best possible fabrics and garments with the least possible waste and environmental harm. While this ‘slow fashion movement’ takes time, we’re doing it as fast as we can."
While it’s not popular, because it’s slower to build and maintain this type of transparent supply chain, it’s the right thing to do with apparel. We’re an all-in sustainable brand,”
-
Tyler Swan, Chief Revenue Officer at Kastlfel

Kastlfel’s approach is to manufacture within a supply chain that embraces sustainability and social responsibility, “which can include fair trade, alternative energy, lean manufacturing, energy-efficient equipment, low-impact dyes/finishes, zero waste, water reclamation and conservation,” Swan says.

If you take a closer look at the Kastlfel logo, you’ll see that it’s packed with meaning, as a metaphorical structure in motion. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either in the process of falling or being built, or in the process of change and renewal. The primary color is a vibrant orange, most often associated with energy, change and enthusiasm. “Our branding speaks to our company’s promise for something better, for positive change, as well as our commitment to being a huge part of the solution,” Wheeler says.

2. The Fabric Is the Fashion

Kastlfel wants to make sure that people wear their shirts for years, so it’s ultra-important to marry quality fabric with comfort and fashion. They’re known for timeless design, thoughtfully constructed fabrics, and superior fit (plus positive environmental impact), so people rarely want to toss their clothing away.

“Eighty percent of a garment’s social and environmental impacts occur before its sale. That’s why we focus on the fiber and yarn type, knitting dyes, energy, water, waste, factory technology, working conditions, people and community.
-
Jerry Wheeler, founder and CEO of Kastlfel

"The fabric also drives the quality of the design, fit, comfort, performance, durability, use impacts and end-of-life options," Wheeler says. For example, the brand’s RecycledSoft Jersey is made from 40% Certified Recycled Polyester (that’s six-and-a-half plastic bottles not tossed into waterways and landfills).

Plus, Kastlfel only partners with industry-certified facilities that comply with environmental and social compliance on things like wages, alternative energy, recycling water, and waste disposal.

For every 3,500 garments Kastlfel produces, the company estimates they:

  • save 6,704 gallons of water
  • eliminate 20,150 twenty ounce plastic bottles from landfills.
  • conserve 12.4 million BTUs of energy – enough to power the average home for six months

“The fabric is the fashion, since it washes better, lasts longer, feels better and prints better,” Wheeler says. “That’s why we focus on the fabrics and building a sustainable supply chain.” Kastlfel sustainably produces up to 1 million RecycledSoft garments each year, which are produced under the Global Recyceld Standard (GRS) certification.

GRS is a leading worldwide textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent 3rd party certification of the entire textile supply chain.

3. The Big Promise of Transitional Cotton

Kastlfel is working to set the standard for sustainable apparel as a “fiber-to-shelf” supplier, by purchasing transitional or in-conversion cotton being grown on farms, which follow all organic practices, but, aren’t certified yet. 

“The goal is for a farm to achieve organic certification over a three-year period. The transitional cotton is sold at conventional plus prices which helps farmers until the farm is certified.  Support by brands is essential to these farms and to promote the growth of organic agriculture and healthy practices. Less than 2% of global cotton is organic, so we’re supporting growth by bridging the gap, as these farmers transition their land over the three years.”  
-
Jerry Wheeler, founder and CEO of Kastlfel

Overall, organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. It’s important to understand why organic cotton makes such a difference, so you can sell your clients on purchasing sustainable apparel, like Kastlfel’s.

Organic production systems help reduce the use of toxic fertilizers and pesticides, maintain and replenish soil fertility, while also helping to grow a biologically diverse agriculture.

“Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production,” Swan says. “In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seeds for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the U.S. must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.”  

4. Apparel Your Customers Want to Wear

Kastlfel’s 5.3 oz. RecycledSoft jersey t-shirts are made from recycled polyester, along with combed and ringspun transitional cotton. They’re designed with a contemporary comfort fit to suit all wearers’ body types and lifestyles. 

Stitched accents give these shirts an elevated look, with the added detailing. They’re reinforced with double-needle stitching throughout, have fully taped necks and shoulders, along with a spandex reinforced neck rib to help the shirt hold its shape and lay flat. They’re also eco-enzyme-washed to clean and soften the fabric for better printing. “When you’re educating consumers, you’ve got to keep it simple,” Swan says.

“On a larger scale, we print shirts for national parks, zoos, museums and aquariums. The quality of the apparel and the ease with how it prints translates to the end-user enjoying the fit, hand and longevity of the garment. The shirts are comfortable, and the prints are colorful and last.”
-
Tyler Swan, Chief Revenue Officer at Kastlfel

5. ‘A Future Where Sustainable Apparel is the Norm’

Educating people wherever possible and making sustainability tangible is a large part of Kastlfel’s DNA. “We tell stories that people can put their arms around,” Wheeler says. “Just in the last five years, we’ve started to see real traction with a lot of people caring about sustainable apparel.”

As a long-time expert, advocate and proponent of sustainable manufacturing, Wheeler has 20 years of experience within all aspects of sustainable apparel in retail, wholesale and private label. He even earned a degree in Executive Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and was a board member on the Textile Exchange for nearly a decade. 

When he founded Kastlfel, one of Wheeler’s primary goals was educating consumers, distributors and printers on truly sustainable manufacturing processes and environmentally friendly products. “We work hard to make that connection for them,” he says. “For consumer marketing, we use a simple trash-shred-spin-wear lifecycle model that shows them how a recycled plastic bottle turns into a soft fabric for their new t-shirt. We give them small, bite-size pieces of information in a visual way, and the message resonates with them.”

Get Kastlfel apparel on your clients’ radar today, especially for those buyers who value sustainable apparel and manufacturing processes. “Our vision is a future where sustainable apparel is the norm,” Wheeler says. “I’ve learned the supply chain from farm to shelf. We’ve been trying to lead the change for a while, but we hope to see a time soon where sustainable apparel is what we call the norm.”

Posted 
Thu
Mar 17, 2022