dasFlow Athleisure Apparel
Tracks Trends While Protecting the Planet
Don’t buy what you don’t need. For Nicolas Krauss, founder and CEO of dasFlow Athleisure Apparel, those words from a provocative advertising campaign by outdoor clothing and supply company Patagonia didn’t present a problem. That’s because Krauss already had a product people needed: “clothing that was comfortable, stylish, sustainable and that would provide both storage and safety,” he explained of his vision.
The Central Florida entrepreneur was inspired by predecessors in his industry like Patagonia, which placed a controversial ad in The New York Times on Black Friday in 2011. The ad read “Don’t buy this jacket” and urged consumers to think before making purchases because the manufacture of every item affects the planet. This new approach to the business of fashion shocked many. After all, in the past, trends and seasons worked together to create an industry that seemed to rely on the ephemeral and was almost disposable, sometimes called fast fashion.
But Krauss got it. He created dasFlow with a mission of giving back through its line of ecologically and socially conscientious clothing that is carbon neutral.
People who call Florida home know the blessing of living in a state where outside and inside don’t know any definite divide. Year-round, people can bike to a business meeting, hike on their lunch break and surf at sunrise before a work commute. Krauss, a lifelong adventurer and outdoorsman, was all too familiar with maybe the only downside of this lifestyle.
“I’m constantly hiking or biking, doing something outside,” he said. “I do triathlons and I ride a road bike a lot, and you have those nice big pockets on the back of your bike jerseys. But I didn’t want to go meet my friends downtown or show up on Park Avenue dressed like a cyclist. I wanted to have something a little bit more stylish.
“I wanted to have a tank top or a shirt that had those extra pockets, so that stuff isn’t clanking around in my shorts pockets when I’m riding my bicycle, or even when I’m at the gym.”
That need for practicality even while playing in the great outdoors was an Aha! moment for Krauss, one that was solidified even further on one of his trips to South America, where he realized that a shirt like the one he envisioned would also provide an extra level of protection for his possessions on the beach.
With all this in mind, he set to work creating the very first in the dasFlow line. Krauss has an extensive history in both the real estate and business realms, including seven years as a business consultant with ERA Europe and a year as director of business and franchise development with EXIT Realty Florida. Creating clothing, however, was a new venture for him.
So he did what he does best: He went exploring. He started in Berlin, known throughout Europe as a startup hub, where he began crafting his business plan and recruited a designer. “We made a bunch of samples, and I bought around 30 of them before I flew back home. Then I started selling them to my friends, getting feedback and critiques.”
As the company continued to grow, the prototypes evolved to become the “smart” wear it is known for now, complete with UV protection, quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabrics, and four-way stretch. Soon after, companies began to reach out for corporate apparel and private label services to use in their own branding. By 2019, the ever-evolving brand consisted of menswear and womenswear tank tops, T-shirts, sports bras, leggings and more.
In 2020, Krauss’s participation in the Rollins College Annual Rethinking Fashion show was the catalyst for the thoughtful entrepreneur to pursue a new way of creating a product that didn’t just look and feel good, but that did good.
“That was my first entry point into having eco-friendly fabrics,” Krauss said of the designs he created for that show, now known as the Rollins Collection. “It’s called PET (polyethylene terephthalate) fabric. It’s made from recycled plastic bottles, so it leads to fewer of these plastics floating in oceans or ending up in landfills. It’s CO2 neutral, so its emissions are reduced by 70%. Compared to fast fashion, the fabric production requires a much smaller amount of petroleum and has the ability to be recycled endlessly without a loss of quality in the fabric.”
Sustainability has always been a priority for the company. Since the beginning, Krauss has worked with One Tree Planted to plant trees locally in an effort to become completely carbon neutral — a goal many companies and even countries have set for themselves in the last few years. “Every quarter, we do 100 trees with them, right here in Florida,” he said.
When dasFlow was first starting, Krauss looked to Medellin, Colombia, which he considers a second home because his mother is Colombian. Each year, the Colombiatex textile show introduces eco-friendly fabrics.
“They had a lot of recycled plastic bottle fabrics, but you have to buy large rolls of fabric from Spain,” he said. “That was going to be super pricey, and it unfortunately wasn’t feasible when I was starting my business. But that was always top of mind.”
Even dasFlow’s printing process keeps it green, using dye sublimation. The design is printed on a high-transfer release paper, which is then placed on top of the fabric. “It goes through a heat press, and then the ink changes from a solid to gas, and then enters into the polyester fibers. It’s called the sublimation heat transfer. And then all the colors or the images that you’re printing out become infused in the fabric.” The process creates more high-quality results on the products themselves and prevents any liquid runoff from entering the water supply.
Designing for the Future
As research and investigations into the impact of fast fashion on the environment continue, the need for companies like Krauss’s to take their place at the forefront becomes more and more apparent. A 2018 report by the United Nations Environment Programme revealed that if nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. The same report revealed this revelation:
“Textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of water globally, and it takes about 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.”
Those numbers are a call to action to Krauss and his customers. “I know that one of the biggest hindrances in environmental protection is fast fashion, due to the use of non-recyclable products and unregulated production practices,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference as much as I could.”
Starting with the new dasFlow Rush collection, scheduled to launch on April 22 — which also happens to be Earth Day — all of dasFlow’s products moving forward will be made with eco-friendly fabrics and production practices, Krauss said. “Every company can do its part to make a difference in the environment.”