Outerwear just got a whole lot chicer.
“Warmth without the puff” is the inspiration behind New York-based outerwear brand Caalo’s latest collection. Its pre-fall and fall 2020 line delivers a dreamy and juxtaposed color palette with powder blues, soft grays and shades of cream to deep chocolate brown and saturated black. A solution-inspired collection, the brand said it sought to create coats that offer the warmth of down and the sophistication of wool. By integrating a new sustainable fabric from Italy, recycled fabrics and a real-feel recycled suede, the collection is sharp and tailored, with sleek silhouettes and plenty of striking two-tone pieces.
Caalo focuses on genderless, transformable, trans-seasonal pieces. Chelsea Claridge, founder and creative director of Caalo, told WWD, “We found that during the winter months in NYC, many of our friends were layering puffer jackets under their wool coats just to stay warm. Not only was this uncomfortable, but they were having to wear and carry around two coats to keep warm.”
Claridge said that by lining its wool coats with the aforementioned Italian sustainable down fabric, the brand was able to create “possibly the warmest wool coat you’ve ever worn,” but in style, by maintaining the slim silhouette of a traditional wool coat or trench coat. “Our ultimate goal is to change the perception of what a warm, sustainable winter coat looks like by creating a new slim silhouette for warmth.”
And Claridge explained that in its prioritization of sustainability, the brand has been researching new fabrics, in addition to meeting with leading fabric developers to stay abreast of soon-to-be discovered innovations entering the market. “We’re excited for what’s on the horizon for eco fabrics. This season we’ve introduced a number of great recycled fabrics, including an amazing recycled suede that looks and feels like real suede! We were also able to move one of our core nylon shell fabrics to be recycled, which is super exciting. But this took a lot of work to get the coloring, hand and sheen right.”
But perfectionism does pay off. Claridge explained that while her standards for Caalo are sky high, the textile industry is impressively and consistently delivering a plethora of options for sustainable fabrics that are suitable for outerwear. “We don’t want to compromise on aesthetic or quality, so it can make it difficult to find fully sustainable fabrics that perform and have a luxury feel.”
She continued, “That being said, every season it seems to be getting better and better, in regard to finding recycled fabric options. We also continue to only use RDS-certified humane down that is traceable, so we know where it is coming from. Ultimately, we would like the collection to be 100 percent eco-friendly fabrics that can still function just as well as the current technical fabrics that are on the market today.”
Claridge added that one of the best parts of the design process is working with local pattern makers and factories, which “brings the collection to life. It really becomes a partnership and creates a community, which is something that has become harder to come by these days,” she explained.
And naturally, Caalo is selective in its partnerships with sustainable and ethical production facilities, and vigilant about worker-related issues that arise throughout the supply chain. “Our pre-fall and fall 2020 collection is made 100 percent locally in New York City’s Garment District. We are able to have a greater, personal connection with the people making our clothes and know that we are helping the local fashion economy. This also lets us react quicker and ensure that our coats meet the high-quality standards we represent.”
“We believe that taking the entire garment life cycle into account is extremely important. We just talked about the materials and the people, but equally as important is what happens next. We design and make everything to be timeless and well-constructed, so people not only can wear them for years, resell or pass them down, but they’ll actually want to because they aren’t designed around trends. All these come together to help give our coats a longer life or a new home, that’s ultimately not a landfill.”
Claridge remains hopeful, as the outerwear industry-at-large has ambitiously adopted sustainable methodologies, in addition to helping lead and support the advancement of technical fabrics.
“It is great to see some of the larger outerwear brands starting to utilize sustainable practices in their production process. I think the industry as a whole still has a ways to go, especially as it pertains to truly sustainable material availability and ethical production facilities, however I think we are heading in the right direction.”
For more Business news from WWD, see: