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Is Yoga and Sustainable Fashion really a thing?

Close-up of a sewing machine foot and a piece of red fabric

Yoga and sustainable fashion? I hear a few people talking about it as a marketing stunt. Even if anything is corruptible, I don't believe it. I don't believe it so much that I created Simmering Impressions exactly on this.

I believe that Yoga principles are the subtle glue.

Nowadays, there is great emphasis on our bodies and lately also on our minds. How we align our limbs. How we breathe. More and more, on how to still our mind. This is what is commonly considered Yoga.

From this point of view, it's very easy to see the practical connection with the need for a clean environment, specifically clean air. Practising Yoga, as well as any physical activity with beautiful breathing practice, makes sense if the air we breathe is clean. It cannot have the hoped results if we inhale car exhaustion from the window or along our walking/running path.

But I'm considering the so-called Yoga off the mat, the concept I'm talking about is broader.

From my perspective, Yoga philosophy implies that we are one and the same with Nature in a conceptual but also very physical way. Ecology and physics are telling us the same. This is why we have a personal responsibility to Nature and to our community as a whole. We are all connected as a full organism, we are the Earth.

Yoga suggests how to live our life, our inner life but also the life in the community and society.

The Yoga guidelines or tools for our behaviour are called Yamas. Even just reading the list with the meaning in English, it's very intuitive how these principles are extremely connected with the respect of humans and Nature, in my opinion, and in my interpretation.

Most relevant in this context are:

Ahimsa (non-violence in a broad sense); Satya (truthfulness with yourself and others); Asteya (not stealing); Brahmacharya (moderation) and Aparigraha (non-greed).

Fashion is wearable art that makes us feel good, and gives us another layer of identity. But fashion doesn't have to be and it should not be a violent practice.

Thankfully it's slowly becoming possible to approach fashion more sustainably. I really love the concept of Circular Economy and Doughnuts economics (see below), which magically seem to match the Yoga principles. I studied these models and it seems the solution. But they both require common effort and lots of effort from governments and big companies to make it work.

If we need to buy a new piece of clothing, we should look for brands that prove that: practices and materials are the most sustainable available at the moment*; and that all workers were paid fairly.

In the Yoga words:

  • There is no violence to the environment and economical violence to the workers,

  • We are truthful to ourselves about our real (fashion) needs and the consequences of our actions,

  • We are not stealing from Nature and other people in the fashion supply chain,

  • We approach our (fashion) needs with moderation and without greed.

Relearning the value of our textiles is somehow regaining the value of ourselves.

It's not an easy task, I'm well aware of it, but possible. I'm sure it leads to much more contentment and wholeness than a new t-shirt every other week.

Part of the need to create Simmering Impressions is the personal drama of buying something new when it's needed, balancing the sustainability expectation, price and availability. Because at the moment the prices are still pretty high for many customers, but so are also the costs for the brands if they are truly sustainable and small. We are used to unreasonably low fast fashion prices with a very short life expectancy per item.

Being a small sustainable brand is expensive. Because it's imperfect, it often works in a quite old fashion way where the creation takes time and the textiles are rare, valuable and expensive. To do it right it's necessary a constant evaluation, re-evaluation and search for what is better as materials and as practice, to respect themselves, the customers and our planet.

So I think that Yoga has a lot to do with sustainable fashion an textiles. It's not easy but I couldn't have imagined it in any different way.

I'm very interested in your opinion if you want to share, here or on any other platform ;)

*Sustainability of materials is multifactor

Yamas overviews here and here (interpretations are many)

Wikipedia article on Doughnut Economics overview with a great collection of references

Ellen McArthur foundation on Circular economy

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