WE-AR shows us how the principles of yoga philosophy can really guide us to do things better, from yoga practice to business practice.
Words: Meri Frig
How is the yoga philosophy present in WE-AR collections?
We have designed WE-AR from its core outward as an exploration of yoga circumferentially expressed in the daily practice of operating a business. Our company values centre around the yamas and niyamas of yoga (sometimes referred to as the observances and restraints of yoga), and all decisions are made in alignment with these principles. It’s easy, because they are essentially a common sense list for living harmoniously with oneself and others. Yoga is basically about 'oneness', so learning to see through the apparent separation into the actual interconnectedness of all spheres of life. Once we understand our innate connection to everyone and everything else, it hurts to treat others in an unkind or exploitative manner. This is the basis on which we operate as a yogic business.
How can the yoga attire influence the practice? What are the most important things to consider when choosing what to wear?
Yoga is a subtle practice, so wearing clothing made from natural textiles, like organic cotton and well made lyocell from a good sustainable source (i.e. bamboo or managed beech forest), that feel good on the skin and don’t shed harmful fibres makes sense. It’s a good idea to stay away from plastic polyamides that are often not immediately recognisable, as they are labelled craftily with branded names, like Nylon, Luon and StudioLux. These plastic derived textiles shed tiny plastic filaments that are absorbed by our skin. They also harbour bacteria and cause static electricity, neither of which are pleasant when engaged in a yoga practice. There’s also something to be said for setting the scene. In classical texts, we are advised to wash thoroughly and dress in clean ‘robes' to begin our spiritual practice. Although a lot of people are drawn to yoga for physical benefits, plenty find there are deeper layers that open up once they dive in. So attiring oneself ready for practice is, in a sense, part of cultivating a mindful ritual around our yoga practice.
"Once we understand our innate connection to everyone and everything else, it hurts to treat others in an unkind or exploitative manner."
WE-AR: Fine Knit Sweater & Spring Pants
What are some of the biggest sources of inspiration for the WE-AR design?
For colour palettes, it’s almost always a particular light in a place of natural beauty. I’m fascinated by the way light speaks so specifically of a place and, in turn, of mind states or emotions that arise in those places. Individual garments tend to arise out of a need or desire: I feel I want to wear something or feel a certain way wearing it. Or I see how another person could be dressed beautifully, if they were wearing a certain garment… and so it goes on. Whole collections can be inspired by a mood or atmosphere that I’m curious about and attracted to, perhaps in an actual place, but also sometimes from literature or a film.
“We Ar” is a mantra – can you tell us about how it came to form the name of the brand?
Indeed it is. WE-AR is our telling of the Vedantic mantra SO-HAM that can be translated as I am That or I am God, which is to say that 'I Am Everything' or 'I Am All of Creation'. It speaks of the 'oneness' or indivisibility of all things. This is the central teaching of Advaita Vedanta or non- dualistic thinking. We have used the collective pronoun to be more readily felt at a glance…and, of course, without the apostrophe, it’s the other core of our business: wear.
"Although a lot of people are drawn to yoga for physical benefits, plenty find there are deeper layers that open up once they dive in. Attiring oneself ready for practice is, in a sense, part of cultivating a mindful ritual around our yoga practice."
WE-AR: Drift Tank & Socksies
You describe WE-AR as an island love story.
Yes, I first contemplated of WE-AR on Koh Phan Ghan, and then made my first textiles, patterns and sample garments on Waiheke Island before travelling to Bali to create our first collection. Although we design clothes as much for the urban mystic, as the global traveller, our toes are most often in the sand and my heart belongs to the ocean.
What is your take on conscious capitalism?
To me, conscious capitalism is like swimming diagonally in the direction of a current that you’re stuck in. There is this huge and forceful energy that we perhaps cannot beat head on, but by harnessing its energy, we can navigate toward calmer, safer waters where common sense can reign. Capitalism unchecked will destroy everything we love. Conscious capitalism is an invitation to build mindful businesses employing sustainable processes that enrich the communities in which they operate. I see it as a move away from the harmful ‘extractive’ model, towards a kinder and more holistic one.