See the end of this article for the chance to win one of Emily’s garments.
It’s tough for a clothing manufacturer to make her clothes in New Zealand but Emily L’Ami of Bodha Clothing was determined that her new range of yoga clothing all be home grown.
“New Zealand’s manufacturing sector has been ravaged and finding someone with the skills to sew knit fabrics has been the hardest part of the process,” says Emily.
Keeping production in New Zealand was important though, because Emily believes that yoga clothing has to reflect the ethics of yoga itself.
“In selecting fabrics I weighed up the impact (on humans and the environment) of the fiber being grown, manufactured and distributed, as well as the qualities (eg breathable, shape retention and durability) for the end user,” she says.
“Often when you look at the whole life cycle of the fabric something that sounds great on the surface (eg bamboo) is actually just as bad (if not worse) than anything else.”
Despite the extra care and attention taken over fabrics and manufacturing, Emily has still managed to keep the clothing affordable. Most garments are currently priced between $70 & $125 (currently available from the Eco Yoga Store online.)
1. What inspired you to get into the yoga clothing business?
At the heart of it yoga inspired me.
Yoga has been an amazing friend and teacher to me over the years. As my passion for yoga grew, so too did my desire for stylish, comfortable, natural clothing I could practice in.
Once the bud of the idea was planted I felt a strong yearning to explore it. I dreamt of creating beautiful clothing that inspired women to practice and enhanced and supported their journey.
2. What makes great design for yoga clothing?
I think great yoga clothing reflects an understanding of the practice and balances aesthetics with function. It enhances women’s natural beauty and supports their practice. It looks and feels simple while being underpinned by considerable thought, testing and refinement.
Our initial design process began by sending out a little survey to which we got an overwhelming response.
Women knew what they wanted, which was to look good and feel comfortable while being supported and covered in all the right places. We made a real effort to reflect these things and ensure each piece was stylish, functional and versatile.
3. What’s your manufacturing process and why do you do it that way?
The design and development process is very hands on and literally takes a small community. There are fabric and trims suppliers, a pattern maker, cutter, outworker, designer, and lots of wear testers.
We start with a mood-board visually bringing together the colours, textures, fabrics and feelings we want to create. I then work with my pattern maker to develop a draft pattern and a first sample which we refine until we’re happy. Then I work with my outworker to look at construction options and sample again to test fabric, trims and construction.
Both my pattern maker and outworker have been instrumental in the range; they have lots of experience and offer great insights and feedback along the way.
Working with stretch fabrics is a bit of an art and unfortunately there is very little skill and knowledge left in New Zealand.
I worked with three factories (and visited numerous others) before finding my outworker (an independent sewer).
Even though doing it this way takes quite a bit longer I think the quality is worth it.
4. What’s the toughest aspect of starting up a clothing business from scratch?
The toughest aspect was starting and the next toughest is keeping going!
There are the practical things, like learning the language of the fashion industry and of business, and then there are the personal things like learning how to talk back to the constant voices in my head that say;
this is never going to work, give up now.
Bodha would be impossible without the support and encouragement of my husband Fred (our photographer and design guru), friends, family and in some cases total strangers.
Some great New Zealand designers have helped me refine design and fabric decisions, a number of yoga teachers have given time to test the range and others like Jeremy Moon from Icebreaker have been so kind as to give me business advice.
5. What’s the response been to your clothing?
The response has been amazing!
We did a soft launch at Peter Sanson’s annual yoga workshop in Gisborne, which draws a big international group of yogis including lots of teachers. The range got a real workout in the Gisborne summer and the feedback was great. A number of teachers have offered to hold Bodha events at their studios, including one in Stockholm!
I feel very humbled by and grateful for the support and encouragement I have received including from you Kara-Leah. Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on this journey and for creating The Yoga Lunchbox, it is a great forum for the community and much appreciated by us all.
Want to win one of Bodha Clothing’s gorgeous garments – this Bodha Omae Keyhole Tank (available in grass or stone)?
Tell us why you need a Bodha Omae Keyhole Tank. We’ll pick the best answer and pop one in the mail for you.
Just leave a comment below, or send a tweet with @YogaLunchbox, or comment on the Facebook link to this article. You’ve got until Sunday March 27th @ 6pm, NZ time.
To see more of Emily’s range, check out her website Bodha Clothing.
To purchase Bodha Clothing, check out the EcoYogaStore.