August 2, 2022 – Asheville, NC – Astral celebrates the accomplishments, craftsmanship, and dedication of its athletes and employees with the debut of a limited edition PFD. Whitewater enthusiasts, Nicole Mansfield, Kate Shea, and Ollie Smithers came together to design the limited edition version of the iconic Layla PFD (Layla LE) that depicts a unique and playful visual representation of the river showcasing the spirit and design team’s love of the water while boasting the same safety and fit features beloved by the whitewater community. The design team also hand-selected two charity beneficiaries to receive a portion of all Layla LE sales.

Over 27 years ago, Astral CEO and founder, Philip Curry, along with the assistance of Shirley Shepherd, introduced the Lola as the first PFD designed for women sitting in kayaks. Later, he updated the Lola to safely and comfortably conform to a curvy body with its soft, organic kapok fill, renaming it the Layla. The PFD features hinged seams, sculpted chest support, a side entry zipper, and the ability to add a quick release belt. “The Layla PFD is an optimal choice for all levels of watersports enthusiasts. The craftsmanship, fit, and versatility of this PFD is phenomenal, making it the ideal canvas to work from,” shared Ollie Smithers, Astral Sourcing Manager, and kayaker.

Photo Courtesy of Astral
Photo Courtesy of Regina Nicolardi
Mansfield and Shea teamed up with Smithers to bring to light the first limited edition run of the icon Layla PFD. “This two-year project celebrates athletes of all levels and interests in the water, especially as they work through challenges,” said Smithers. The team selected two organizations to commemorate the Layla LE project that empower women in paddlesports to receive 10% of Layla LE sale proceeds. Those organizations include the Lulu Love Tour and Columbia Gorge Junior Kayak Club.

Astral Athlete and whitewater kayaker, Nicole Mansfield, brought her passion for kayaking and desire for functional gear with a flair to the forefront of this project. “I enjoy seeing creativity manifest itself in so many different ways- whether it be through visual or literary mediums, a unique line through a rapid, styling a trick, or finding a new first descent, “ explained Mansfield. “When on the river or in the mountains, I want my gear to be functional, but not boring. Having the opportunity to collaborate on a project where art interfaces with function was a lot of fun.”

Photo Courtesy of Astral
Photo Courtesy of Regina Nicolardi

Illustrative, graffiti-style artist and dedicated member of the whitewater community, Kate Shea, was commissioned to bring to life the essence of how water connects Astral to its community. Shea took inspiration from her own journey to create the design. “The artwork represents the peace and inspiration I get from being amongst the Ottawa River and everything and everyone that comes with it. Nature, the community, love, and the loss. I think this project is important and will be well-received by the river community because it is something for the everyday paddler and not just aimed toward the class V boater.”

The Layla LE can be found at astraldesigns.com and at select retailers beginning August 2 and will retail for $185. For more inspiration, follow the team on Instagram: Astral at @astralfootwear, Mansfield at @queenbeater, and Shea at @katesheadesign.

To learn more about Astral’s Layla LE, please contact info@astraldesigns.com. For more information on Astral please visitwww.astraldesigns.com or contact Mindy Smith at [email protected].

Photo Courtesy of Astral
Photo Courtesy of Regina Nicolardi

About Astral

Established in 2002, Astral builds high performance wilderness equipment, created in the least toxic, lowest impact ways. Built on decades of experience and innovation, Astral has assembled athletes, artists, and craftspeople to build and use the cleanest, most beautiful, and highest performing products you can buy on the market. Most notably, Astral has significantly reduced toxic PVC foam from the PFD industry, invented breathable life jackets, won awards for paradigm changing footwear designs, and they’ve developed the stickiest rubber ever worn on wet rock.

Visit www.astraldesigns.com for more information.



Photo Courtesy of Regina Nicolardi

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