Fashionable attire invariably complements autumnal and winter wonderment — and for New York-based luxury outerwear brand Caalo, distinctiveness is won through transformable, trans-seasonal and non-gender-specific pieces sculpted into easy, enviable silhouettes.
For Caalo, material matters, and the brand’s upcoming fall 2022 collection makes use of fine fabrics such as Japanese aviator satin and Italian cashmere paired with down. Conceptually, Caalo approaches sustainability with function, as many of its pieces can be worn in four to five ways, providing “more wears and value in one hanger,” according to the brand.
Sustainably produced in small runs in New York City’s Garment District, Caalo has made a name for itself in the luxury outerwear space since it was founded by the Canadian-born design duo in 2018.
“This season, we really tried to push the concept of luxurious modularity,” said Chelsea Claridge, cofounder of Caalo. “We think this approach gives a unique value and novelty to our customers and emphasizes our sustainable ethos of doing more with less.”
Cofounder Jordan Claridge emphasized the brand’s attention to the full spectrum of sustainability beyond the fabrics. “Everything always comes full circle. For us, sustainability is not just about materials, but also living wages, craftsmanship and aesthetics. It’s not enough to just make something out of recycled materials, you need to create something that will last, that people want to continue to wear for years to come.”
Here, Chelsea and Jordan Claridge talk to WWD about its forthcoming fall 2022 collection, standout transformable pieces and what’s next for the brand.
WWD: The materials in this collection are highly unique. What inspired your material choices and how do they speak to/meet the needs of modern luxury consumers?
Caalo: We’re both fabric nerds and love finding new materials and pairings that allow us to create garments that haven’t been able to exist before.
At our core, we do our best to marry technical, beautiful and responsibly made fabrics together to push the realm of what’s possible. We source our fabrics from Japan, South Korea and Italy, as they are the leaders in high-quality, technical materials. The only down we use in our collection is RDS-certified Italian down that is a byproduct of the food industry.
We love the idea of juxtaposing luxe fabrics like Italian cashmere with technical/functional fabrics like down and aviator satin. The concept of having a water-resistant down coat on one side that reverses to a cashmere coat on the other is interesting to us, and something we feel we haven’t seen in the market. You get the functionality, additional styling option, and with our low-profile billow-less down, most people don’t realize it has the same warmth as a bulky down puffer coat. These elegant silhouettes and fabrics combined with function is something we feel is missing in the market and really at the core of our brand.
WWD: In your opinion, how have consumers changed in the past couple of years? Have these changes informed or evolved Caalo’s aesthetic?
Caalo: We think people are becoming more conscious of what they are buying and wanting to know where it comes from. When we first started the brand, a lot of buyers and customers were buying Caalo because of the aesthetic versus it being sustainably produced in New York’s Garment District. Fast forward a couple of years, we have retailers and customers that will only buy ethical clothing.
Taking this concept a step further, I think people are wanting higher-quality pieces that are seasonless and adaptable to their ever-changing lives. Our fall 2022 collection probably showcases this the best as there are so many pieces that are modular and transformable, giving the customer four or even five ways to wear one piece. We know outerwear is an investment piece, so we really think modularity is the best way to add value and give our customers additional looks and functions with a single hanger in their wardrobe.
WWD: There are several standout multifunctional pieces in this collection. What are some of your favorites?
Caalo: We are really excited to have been able to take transformability even further in our latest collection. A key example of this is our new five-in-one down coat and vest that can be worn five different ways: as a complete coat, reversed, as a vest, reversed and as a chic bolero. It’s the perfect seasonless piece.
Wear the bolero on its own in the spring, or to a dinner over a dress; layer in the vest over a chunky sweater in the fall, and stay warm and cozy in the winter with it as a coat. We are very much advocates for the less is more concept and by giving people reversible or transformable items they can get away with buying less and be able to wear that one piece through multiple seasons and occasions for many years.
WWD: Caalo prides itself on being “future-focused.” What does that mean for Caalo?
Caalo: For us, it means thinking about what’s next, not only for us but for everything we have and will create throughout the whole design and production process.
We’re always thinking, will the construction of this piece last 10 years, but also, will people want to wear it aesthetically speaking in that time, too? This ultimately helps keep more garments out of landfills. You need both the construction quality but also the human desire to stay strong.
WWD: What’s next for Caalo?
Caalo: We’re very excited to finally have the fall 2022 collection be out in the world. We worked very hard on this latest collection, and it feels great to be receiving such positive feedback on it. We will be releasing our pre-sales in the next month, so definitely follow along at @CaaloStudio. We also have a couple of projects in the pipeline that we’re excited about. We’re continuing to grow and get [our] name out there.
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