Kriwiel now had a mission: to “change the world through sports,” he said, and not just for professional athletes but for everyday people who like to be active.
With the guidance of Fair Trade U.S.A., America’s leading third-party certifier of fair-trade products, Kriwiel and Benny Bowden, his business partner, found a factory in Southwest India that shared their desire for supply-chain transparency, healthy working conditions, living wages, and freedom of association.
“One of our primary goals for Matano has always been to have a social impact through everything we do,” Kriwiel told us. “We want to have a positive impact on everyone Matano touches, from the workers who make our products to the athletes and teams we support.”
In addition to the production price, the Wichita, Kans.-based firm pays a fair-trade premium that goes directly to the workers, who collectively decide how to spend it, whether it’s on disaster relief, medical care, transportation, or scholarships.
Equally important, Kriwiel said he and Bowden spent hours designing—and testing—their garments for superior movement and comfort.
Each piece in Matano’s debut collection offers moisture-wicking and odor-controlling characteristics, albeit through the use of polyester, which has its environmental downsides.
The garments come with heavy-duty stitching, plus a loose-fit design that complements most activities.
“Many other sports brands focus on the elite athletes, and then encourage consumers to do the same,” Kriwiel said. “We wanted to flip the script on this and be a brand that focuses on the everyday athlete, even down to the designs of our products. All of our sports apparel has a bit of a looser fit with timeless, functional design.”
The brand is currently campaigning on Kickstarter, where it aims to raise $20,000 for an initial run of shirts, tanks, and shorts for both men and women.
Kriwiel said that options for customization are on the horizon, along with a new fair-trade partnership with Haiti and collaborations with various companies and athletic teams.
“We’ve developed the ability to provide ethically made, customized sportswear for teams, leagues, running events, and corporate events,” he said. “We’ve partnered with an amazing factory in Haiti who is also doing great work for their community and significantly impacting the economy within their community.”
It all ties in with Matano’s motto: “Fairly made. Fairly played.”