KREL Tropical Knitwear is a Miami-based sustainable collection founded by fashion designer and textile artist Karelle Levy in 2002. The majority of styles such as rompers and caftans are geared toward warm climates, but Levy also offers sweaters and scarves for greater coverage.
KREL’s philosophy is based on inclusive sizing to fit most body types thanks to its signature, seamless knit designs known as “TOOBULAR” construction. From yarn to garment, each unique piece is loomed from cotton, bamboo, Tencel, Lurex, rayon and polyester blends at her Miami atelier, and some even glow in the dark. The eco-friendly concept produces zero waste, since all scraps are recycled into bags, blankets and toys.
KREL Tropical Knitwear opened a flagship store and atelier in Miami Ironside retail and design center in 2016. The space features Passap Duomatic and Shima Seiki knitting machines as well as a functional wall art installation of colorful yarns. The brand is available at retailers throughout Florida and Latin America.
Meet the KREL Team
Karelle Levy - Founder
Paris-born Karelle Levy was raised in Miami by a Swedish mother and French-Tunisian father. She spent her childhood surrounded by arts and crafts, music, dance and fashion, which all play a role in her designs. Levy lost her fiber artist mother when she was 16 years old. This event led her to start her studies in textiles at University of Miami continuing education Weaving class. She then went on to study textile design at Rhode Island School of Design, where she knit and wove fabrics for garments and costumes worn during her art performances. The costumes became the impetus for KRELwear, a fashion-forward collection of couture and ready to wear.
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.
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.
Karelle Levy’s awards and recognitions include Best Local Fashion Designer in the Miami New Times in 2005, 2010 & 2021, Style Wars National Champion 2008, Gen Art Fresh Faces of Fashion in 2004. KRELwear has garnered exceptional praise in The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Lucky, Ocean Drive, 944 Magazine, The Miami Herald, Noise, amongst other fine publications. Her clothing has been seen on Nicki Minaj, Alanis Morissette, Latin Grammy’s Wisin Dancers, and on Nuestra Belleza Latina.
Born in Japan, our Shima Seiki industrial knitting machine, traveled a long way to join the KREL team in 2017. KREL has never been the same. She makes our knit dreams come true. We can now make custom orders with ease and speed.