Meet Rafaiel Knitwear: An Emerging Sustainable Fashion Brand with a Creative Twist

Rafaiel Knitwear

Rafaiel Knitwear, a fresh face in the fashion industry, is a brand that combines modern aesthetics with ancient philosophy and a deep commitment to naturalism. Founded in 2020 by Darcey Lehman, Rafaiel was birthed with a vision to celebrate human uniqueness through handcrafted, ethical knitwear. This New York City-based brand is a testament to innovation, inclusivity, and thoughtful planning that values conscious garment-making over quick trends.

The Birth of Rafaiel Knitwear

Darcey Lehman, an alumnus of the Fashion Institute of Technology, launched Rafaiel in a world grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and an escalating climate crisis. Her mission was to address the fashion needs of a new generation of consumers who value multi-functional garments and conscious choices over fast fashion. Rafaiel, a brand that evolves with each collection, encourages customers to get inventive with their styling and maximize the use of each piece. Only the most ergonomic and adaptable designs endure in this survival of the fittest, mirroring Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Prior to Rafaiel, Lehman had gained industry experience in New York and Milan and worked as a freelance knitwear designer. Her exposure to the fashion world’s environmental footprint led her to question how beautiful garments could be produced responsibly, maintaining a connection to the humans who craft them. Rafaiel is the realization of Lehman’s quest to marry striking design with a grounded, heartfelt bond to the natural world.

The Design Process: Embracing Darwinism in Fashion

Every collection at Rafaiel is a testament to this evolution. Darwinism is intrinsic to the design process, with Lehman leading every step from sketches to finished product. Each season births new ideas about purposeful art creation, tested and refined during garment fitting. Lehman’s passion lies in reflecting her environment, social issues, and personal inspirations into her designs.

Committed to sustainability, Rafaiel uses a restored Brother knitting machine from the late 1970s for crafting its designs. Every garment is knitted using the fully fashioned seaming method, producing minimal waste and ensuring optimal shape. Rafaiel’s commitment to eco-conscious production is also evident in their recycling program, where used fibers find a new purpose.

Rafaiel Knitwear

Exploring the Rafaiel Series: Artistic Inspirations

The brand presents four series inspired by both ethereal and earthly muses. The Fai series, named after Aristotle, focuses on body movement and lounge comfort.

fai series summer vacation set : olive, $344

Rafaiel Knitwear

The Eva series, named after Minerva, the Greek goddess of wisdom, arts, and textiles, celebrates volume, curves, and drama.

eva series going out set : cloud, $914

Rafaiel Knitwear

The Tie series, inspired by the artist Rafaello Sanzio, accentuates familiarity, versatility, and comfort.

 tie series beach tanning set, $268

Rafaiel Knitwear

Lastly, the Humanist series, which seamlessly complements the other series, unveiling designs that are timeless, responsible, and convenient.

 humanist cardigan: dune, $698

Rafaiel Knitwear


Advocacy for Slow, Ethical Fashion

Beyond creating fashionable pieces, Rafaiel Knitwear commits to slow, ethical fashion. Their knit-to-order approach reduces overproduction, eliminating dead stock and waste. Sourcing sustainable materials and local yarns from upstate New York, Rafaiel primarily uses natural fibers such as alpaca wool and linen. The brand continues to explore innovative methods and materials to enhance product sustainability and quality.

More than a Fashion Brand

Rafaiel Knitwear is more than a fashion brand; it’s an emblem of conscientious design and environmental responsibility. This brand delivers more than clothing – it delivers a philosophy, encouraging us to consider our environmental karma and the lasting impact of our fashion choices. With its dedicated ethos and innovative approach, Rafaiel Knitwear is poised to make waves in the sustainable fashion industry.

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Images provided by Rafaiel Knitwear

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