Designer Karelle Levy always had body issues since she was a little girl. Shopping was an issue because of her curves. She grew this struggle into a love of making fabric and engineered a knit technique making each piece tubular so that the fabric can hug all the curves as they are.
Each piece is individually knit using their Shima Seiki industrial knitting machine in their shop in Miami, FL. After 20 years in the business with her first brand KRELwear, production has always been an issue. As a small business, it was hard to meet the demand of the factories while keeping up with small batch orders. Many times the factories would produce incorrectly or they would run super late and she would have boutiques cancel. Now with her own "factory", she has full control of her production time as long as the yarn is in stock.
As Levy’s textiles evolved, her art grew more intricate and developed into large-scale, site-specific installations and two-dimensional works. Playing with a vast array of yarns and colors to create her signature fabrics, she knits shimmering, glow-in-the-dark rainbows and patchwork landscapes inspired by aerial views during frequent air travel. From yarn to garment, each unique piece looms from cotton, bamboo, Tencel, Lurex, rayon, and polyester blends at her Miami atelier, and some even glow in the dark. The majority of styles such as rompers and caftans are geared toward warm climates, but Levy also offers sweaters and scarves for greater coverage.
Living in Miami as a knitwear designer is both an oxymoron and a gift. Because of its hot nature, the brand focuses on plant-based and synthetic fibers to create unique breathable fabrics. Their ever-so-sexy city allows users to wear body-hugging clothes with minimal coverage. Breathable, sexy, and chic is what the brand strives for.
Due to her Scandinavian influence, sustainable practices have always been central to her brand’s mission and her artistic and design process. The majority of artworks are made with recycled materials including yarn remnants and fabric scraps. Prototypes, samples, and other pieces are sold separately or, if not viable as a garment, repurposed into shopping bags, totes, toys, or even art pieces. Even yarn cuttings from their processes are reused as stuffing for the toys they occasionally make. Yarn cones are donated to local artists and schools for special projects. Even the shipping materials are reused for outgoing shipments. Their weekly industrial waste fits into a tiny trash container the size of a 1-gallon milk carton, a feat simply unmatched in this industry.
All other products are knitted on-demand, finished in store and hand washed in small containers with high-efficiency dry detergent strips and air-dried to protect fibers from damage. Each of these steps not only makes the absolutely best garments but also does its part to protect the fragile environment that is South Florida.
The Karelle Levy Collection recycled cotton hangtags are printed locally by a BIPOC female-owned print company using Heidelberg print presses from the 1950s. When they have needs outside of their many skill sets, they hire local artists, builders, and do-ers. They value their local manufacturers and will always reinvest money in the local creative community. Ultimately, all of their local (and distant) friends and the KREL fanbase are proudly inclusive and truly represent the best of the company they are today.