New York based athleisure brand, VYAYAMA, are the epitome of contemporary ethical fashion. Beautifully marrying production methods and fabrics that are kind to the environment and skin with uncompromising style, makes this young brand one to watch. We caught up with the design team to find out more.
Tell us a little bit about VYAYAMA
The Sanskrit word to move, VYAYAMA (pronounced “vai-ah-mah”) was founded with the intention of providing a natural alternative to synthetic yoga wear.
VYAYAMA is a New York-based lifestyle brand that draws inspiration and innovation from the natural world to create a collection of apparel that is naturally made for movement.
We are advocates for healthy living, we think it’s important as a new brand to take on this responsibility and offer clothing that is as healthy for you as the organic food you eat. We believe that the products we use and wear, should be held to the same standards that we hold for ourselves.
How did the inspiration for VYAYAMA come about?
The initial inspiration was to satisfy the desire to wear leggings that were made from natural fibers, were a deep, dark, matte black and would stay that way, because we believe that mindfulness shouldn’t compromise style!
The desire was to design clothing in line with our yogic values that could also become an integral part of our fashion wardrobe, instead of a separate athletic wear style for when we are active.
We set out to make natural-based fabrics the norm rather than the alternative. We wanted to see a change in what was offered to yogis to wear on and off the mat.
Describe the VYAYAMA woman.
She is a free spirit with a love for travel and curiosity for the adventures of life.
She values the beauty of nature and makes conscious daily decisions to preserve the environment, but she doesn’t compromise on style or fun! A VYAYAMA woman’s lifestyle is about the balance of awareness and joie de vivre.
You use Tencel, a more sustainable alternative to synthetic fabrics as well as being kinder to the skin. What lead you to choose this fabric?
The level of toxins in clothes, specifically synthetics made from petroleum, which make up most of the yoga wear clothes on the market today is high. These garments don’t ever biodegrade and the performance features are chemical treatments, which have a potential negative impact not only on personal health, as they are absorbed through the skin, but also the environment.
After thorough research at the fiber level for a healthier alternative, Tencel® was our answer. Derived from sustainably harvested eucalyptus, Tencel® is high-perfomance by nature and doesn’t need added chemicals in order to transport moisture from your skin or to stop bacteria growth on your garments, just botanical intelligence!
Tencel® had all the properties and features we were looking for, but had not yet been developed by any mills as a performance fabric. So we spent a year developing our custom Tencel® Elastane blended fabrics. Soft, smooth, yet sculpting, slimming and supportive.
Where do you produce your garments? Was this an important factor and why?
We traveled to find the right partners that have strong unions to protects their rights, as well as being close to natural water resources. We produce our garments in family run workshops in Portugal. Our production takes place there in between the two beautiful and healthy rivers of ‘The Cavado’ and ‘Ave’. All the dye-houses of our production facilities have clean internal water treatments and in no way create any negative impact on the local environment. Our fabrics are knitted in the same area as our garment production in order to reduce transportation impact. Ethical production was very important, not a choice, but a necessity, we wanted to create zero impact on the environment.
What does ethical fashion mean to you and why is it so important for the brand?
To us, ethical fashion should be the norm and not the exception. So as a newly founded brand, we believe we need to make a responsible contribution towards making the garment industry healthy.
It’s important to us as a brand that ‘ethical’ and ‘fashion’ are not separate entities! We don’t believe being mindful has to be separate from enjoying fashion. Fashion by design, ethical in production.
What are the biggest challenges about launching a brand with ethical values?
New technology has improved rapidly during the past 5 years, which makes the production process a lot smoother. That said it still takes a lot of testing and time to ensure that every part of the process is 100% up to our standards. From sustainable eucalyptus pulping to transforming our fabric with color and pattern.
Honestly one of the biggest challenges in launching a fashion brand with ethical values is how to communicate to consumers just how their individual choice of purchase can make a difference, both for themselves and the planet. One more natural legging used is one less synthetic one that will never biodegrade in the ocean. Each and every natural alternative bought really does make a difference.
And what is the most rewarding part?
We can’t be more satisfied when we see the excited reaction we get as people try on our garments in person. When they touch the fabric and tell us how soft it feels. People can’t believe it’s made from sustainably-grown eucalyptus. We feel gratitude when we hear how important sustainability and ethical production is to more and more people.
What was the inspiration behind the Shadow Prints and Kalablak collections?
It was important for all of us in New York (who live in black!) to create the perfect staples that could be worn anywhere to take you through the day feeling beautiful. That’s why we created our Kalablak(TM) fabric. Kala a word in Sanskrit which describes both ‘black’ ‘timeless’ and ‘fixed point in time’ is a blend of Tencel® and Italian black Elastane. These pieces never fade and are the blackest-black, even when stretched while in motion.
Our black and white Shadow printed pieces, also on custom matte, soft Tencel® Elastane, are richly textural and inspired by shadow and light in nature. We wanted to bring placement prints from fashion to these types of garments, which are usually randomly printed and one garment is never the same as the next.
Working with delicate metallic accents for trims and slim straps on all our pieces are feminine instead of being bold and athletic. It was something we could not find and have longed for.
What’s next for VYAYAMA?
We are very excited to be launching our first capsule at Equinox Bond Street location in October!
As well as introducing soon what we’ve been working on during the summer; seamless garment technology made from Cupro.
Something you couldn’t live without?
Escapes from the city to nature!
Motto you live by?
Be free, be kind and have fun.
Favourite thing to do on a Sunday?
Wake up and practice yoga. A great brunch! A trip to the flower market to stock up on beautiful botanicals for the week Enjoy the company of friends and loved ones.
Favourite responsible brand?
Love the superior sustainability efforts carried out by the Kering group and their brands. We particularly admire the ethos of the Stella McCartney brand.
At the moment we are all about Reykjavik in Iceland, where we are shooting our fall campaign! It’s multifaceted natural surroundings are totally gorgeous and have inspired some of our designs for Fall.
What’s your soundtrack to the summer?
We have this one already covered for you! Check out our ‘Explore’ page at VYAYAMA.com to see what inspires our model, muse and New York DJ Edda P!
Shop the collection at the online VYAYAMA Boutique
Photography Elizabeth Cooney