Yoga Culture

Slow Fashion For The Conscious Consumer

By Sarah Jean Harrison

It seems that every trend prediction I find for 2019 is proclaiming the return of colour and pattern to our wardrobes. After years of grey and white with the odd dash of navy, I’m excited by this shift towards a more playful attitude, especially when it comes to active wear.

Like so many others, I too am making my yearly attempt to exercise more. Hauling out my pile of yoga pants and sports bras I spread them on my bed, taking stock of what still fits and what’s too worn out for public appearances. Staring at this pile I notice a trend. Everything is black.

Black isn’t bad. It certainly helps my butt look a tiny bit more streamlined during downward dog. And yet, sorting through all my black active wear brings up a nearly coma-inducing level of malaise. Not a speck of “let’s get active in our activewear” inspiration to be found. In fact, these black yoga pants would be the perfect thing for eating a tub of ice cream while watching reruns of Downton Abbey.

Thankfully, before I dive headfirst into the Haagen Daz, I have a chat with Yoga Culture founder Shailja Jha and discover what may be the cure to active wear boredom: colourful patterns.

According to Shailja, who was raised practicing yoga and meditation in India, colour is an important aspect of a yoga practice.

“It’s not a coincidence that we all feel happier in the summer when the world is alive with colour”.

Colour and pattern help us tap into energy and inspiration, especially during Canada’s long cold winter months.

Is it too much to say that my heart leapt just a little with excitement when I began pursuing Yoga Culture’s online shop? Shailja’s professional career as a textile designer working for global brands in India shines through her wonderfully original designs. Energetic without being overwhelming. Colourful without being obtrusive. I could envision myself hitting the mat with a little extra gusto while wearing these leggings.

Yoga Culture’s inspirational factor goes far deeper than beautiful colours. Shailja worked for years in fast fashion, witnessing first hand the child labour, poverty and horrid working conditions of globalized manufacturing. “Becoming pregnant with my daughter gave me the opportunity to pause my career in fast fashion. I knew I wanted to go back to fashion but not in that exploitive system. I had to create fashion that reflected the values of my practice as a yogini.”

Yoga Culture uses an ecopoly fabric for its leggings, which consumes 70% less water and heat than conventional polyester fabrics, sourced from Montreal. Everything, except for the Yoga Tank, is made in Canada where the benefits of production support local economies and the growing slow fashion industry. A Canadian made Yoga Tank will be launched in March.

I ask Shailja what she wants people like me, who need a little inspiration to get back to the mat (and gym), to feel when we put on our Yoga Culture gear. “Mindfulness and inner peace,” she says without hesitation. I laugh and tell her that so far, I have achieved neither. “It’s all in the process,” she assures me, “If my clothes can remind you to come back to that mat, I’m happy”.

That, I believe, is feasible.

Sarah Jean Harrison is a sustainability communications specialist at Peace Flag House, working with sustainable fashion and lifestyle brands. Her work has appeared in The Canadian Organic Farmer, Spin Off Magazine, FORWARD Fashion and Eco Warrior Princess.