Matano Aims To Be The Ethical Nike As They Bring Fair Trade Sportswear To A Much Needed Industry

Matano is a Fair Trade Certified™ sports apparel startup based out of Wichita, KS that wants to represent the industry in a new way. The Fair Trade certification ensures that the workers who make Matano products are being treated fairly, with legal wages, a supportive work environment, and no child or forced labor.

Matano’s goal is to create a brand that represents a new movement in sports culture. Sports are not just for the elite, professional athletes… sports are for everyone. They aim to be a new type of sports brand, not focused around the performance of the elite athletes, but on empowering the Everyday Athletes. For people who love to play sports, but realize that sports are an activity… not an identity.

Matano recently launched their Kickstarter campaign, please support in anyway you can.

Below is a Q&A with Toby Kriwiel, Co-Founder of Matano.

Tell us how it all started? What sparked the Fair Trade Sportswear mission?

So I’ve always loved to play sports. Not that I’m very good at sports, it’s just that sports have always been a huge piece of community and social connection in my life. About two years ago I started looking for ethically made products, specifically in clothing. I saw many amazing companies and brands, doing awesome work through their business. As I researched for ethically made sports apparel, I wasn’t able to find any that really matched my lifestyle. This gave me the idea for Matano, a new Fair Trade sports apparel brand designed for the Everyday Athlete.

How has the initial reaction and response been from people you have spoken to about Matano and its mission?

To be honest, the initial reaction we’ve received for Matano is all over the place! Within the Fair Trade and social enterprise community, we’ve had a great reaction. Many of the Fair Trade consumers we’ve connected with were very excited to see our Fair Trade sports apparel, with our modern, timeless designs. As we’ve explained the idea for Matano to bigger crowds (not necessarily within the Fair Trade community), we’ve gotten mixed responses. The reality is that most consumers still don’t know about the problems within the clothing industry, and even more so, don’t understand what they could do to help. So a huge piece of our success will come from educating people on the problems, and also on the opportunity they have to be a part of the change.

Have you always felt like there was a better way to make sports apparel? Has the human rights issue with Nike and other manufactures inspired you to create an alternative?

Definitely. It just makes since… Sports are meant to be fair, so our clothing should be made fair. Sports have always been about community, empowerment, and bringing people together… And I think that message should show even in the clothes we wear when we play sports.

Many of the bigger sports brands have experienced some backlash from consumers over the ethics of their supply chain, specifically in the last 15 years. We wanted to create Matano as a new type of sports brand that positively impact everyone it touches… from the workers who make our clothes to the people and athletes we support. Our goal is that as Matano grows, so will our impact in the world.

How was the process in becoming Fair Trade certified? Can you talk about what that process is like?

The process took a while, but was pretty simple. We connected with Fair Trade USA, the nonprofit organization who certifies all factories and products as “Fair Trade Certified.” They linked us with some of the different Fair Trade suppliers, who we then began talking with about a partnership. We connected with our Fair Trade Factory in India. They are doing some great work in India and we are very proud to partner with them.

What were some of the challenges you initially dealt with when trying to find manufacturing partners that had your same ethical mission?

A huge challenge for us was showing our “proof of concept” to suppliers. Since we are the first brand offering Fair Trade Certified sports apparel, we needed to show the opportunity we have to be successful. We are very grateful that our Fair Trade factory in India is willing to work with us. This factory has followed rigorous guidelines for both the ethical treatment of their workers, and the sustainability of their production. Fair Trade USA continues to audit our Fair Trade factory to ensure all guidelines continue to be met.

Our proof of concept will really come from the success of our Kickstarter campaign. We launched our first four Matano products on Kickstarter last Tuesday, May 31st. You can check it out at:

Our goal is to raise $20,000 in funding by doing “pre-sales” of our sports apparel on Kickstarter. If you would like to have the world’s first line of Fair Trade sport apparel, you can back us on Kickstarter!

Originally published at on June 6, 2016.

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