I still remember my first visit to Bali. Here was a land made for tourist postcards, with lush landscapes, rice fields, frangipani and azure ocean. There was also lots of colourful patterned batik, the fabric that women and men wore on ceremonial days – of which there were plenty. And a constant stream of offerings that women carried in little woven leaf baskets, called canang (pr. chanaang). These offerings were everywhere, They made busy crossroads – even those replete with the buzz of a hundred scooters – a sacred space.
I asked what they symbolized, and learnt that these offerings were one of the ways the Balinese prayed. The Balinese love rituals and this was how they remembered their ancestors, spirits and Gods.
Will Vancouver continue to grow as a Yoga hub?
The answer when put to Aleksa Havelar of Tonic clothing is a resounding yes. I caught up Aleksa last week and got the inside scoop on a local company that still designs and manufactures their yoga-lifestyle apparel in Vancouver, Canada. And yes, though they are compared to that “other” yoga company, the one that put Vancouver on the yoga apparel map, Tonic’s clothing does look different, not a spin-off to lululemon.
I also like Tonic’s continued focus on eco-fabrics – something I consider quintessential to a yoga brand – after all shouldn’t Yoga be synonymous with Sustainability? Sustainability to me = the interconnection we often give lip service to in yoga practice and philosophy, while forgetting how it relates to “real life” or as US based yogini Seane Corne often refers to, the now cliched statement, “our yoga practice off the mat.”
While still a small company, Tonic’s reputation is on the up and up. Tennis star Martina Hingis recently wore Tonic at the US Open this past summer, leading to some high profile and free advertising for Tonic on the world stage. Said Havelar smiling, “we didn’t have to pay to be there. As for our future plans, maybe we’ll be designing more tennis gear…”
When we meet at a little Japanese tea house in Vancouver, I recognize Canadian artist, sculptor, designer and Yogini Sonja Picard by her striking auburn hair. It’s an apt complement to her infectious smile and vivacity, yet belies the layer of serenity that lies just beneath. Having enjoyed an active career as an artist and sculptor, Sonja began a study of yogic philosophy in 1996, and was inspired to create and design pieces of jewelry as an homage to this knowledge. In 2000, she launched her eponymous jewelry line, the Sonja Picard Collection (SPC) that now has over 350 pieces crafted in silver, gold, gemstones and Canadian diamonds and celebrates the yogic and tantric traditions of adornment.
Today, Sonja puts her sculptural background to use as she first hand-carves each original piece in wax, adding a unique, sculptural organic and tactile quality to her jewelry. As Sonja launches the newest addition to her work, the SPC Bridal Collection, Yogue chats with her about Yoga, creativity, the eco aspects of her design process and of course bridal inspired yogic jewelry. Also, read on to get a special offer on SPC jewelry just for Yogue Readers.
I write these words from Bali, that magical isle that is still a stop on every globetrotter’s tour. Nestled in the aquamarine Indian Ocean, privy to tropical rainstorms, miles of surfable wavelined beaches and host to a people with an ancient tradition of craftsmanship and intricate design, it’s no wonder then, that today, Bali teems with designers and creative free thinkers from around the planet. They come here to be inspired by the local culture with its eye for detail, its reverence for life and spirit and the craftsmanship that is inherent in the Balinese peoples’ artistry.
Saving the world, one reusable bag at a time.
For those of you who know me, it seems as if I am constantly on the go, only unpacking to re-pack and leave. One of my travel eco-essentials (besides buying carbon offsets), one that fits conveniently in my purse, is a chico bag. I use it for groceries, e.g. to take fruit or snacks onto a plane; as a small shopping tote; and in a pinch its even doubled as a mini-beach bag.
The coolest thing about writing a blog, I get to write about things i.e. people, places, ideas etc. that inspire me. Hopefully you will find them interesting as well.
Here, I chat with a savvy designer who has been promoting eco-sensibilities before it became “fashionable” to do so, plus she’s a cool, young new mom balancing work, baby and a committment to impacting the world, one eco-luxe outfit at at a time.
I met Nicole Bridger when I worked at lululemon athletica about five years ago. She arrived to helm Oqoqo, an eco-clothing line, fashioned of sustainable fabrics that aimed to traverse the realm of stylish streetwear and yoga. Nicole’s talent was apparent – she had worked with Vivienne Westwood in London, where she developed an eye for the sculptural flow of clothing, design and cut. Yet it is her awareness of the big nature that surrounds us in the Northwest that inform her eco-sensibility and committment to creating fashion in a sustainable way.
While Dream Designs’ Commercial Drive store has long been an eco-shopping destination, I was curious to see how they transplanted that original boho-chic aesthetic to their recent West-Vancouver digs.
No longer so boho, but definitely chic, the space is light-filled with off-white walls, an easy foil to colourful locally made yoga bolsters, printed fabrics from India, clothing, a beautiful in-house line of organic linens, eco-baby wear and a general smattering of interesting objects for your home – all with a sustainable bent. I also noticed new pieces by some of my favourite lines including Stewart + Brown and Preloved.
The store also boasts a “Chakra lounge” where you can sip tea, take a yoga class or an ayurvedic consultation. While eco-linens do set you back a pretty sum, January is a good time to swoop up some bargains. The annual bed-linen sale is on now.
Dream Designs Retail Locations
956 Commercial Drive
Canada V5L 3W7
193-1277 Lynn Valley Road
North Vancouver, BC
Canada V7J 2A1
1502 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, BC
Canada V7V 1H8
Can we change the world through our clothing? Yogue chats with Anna Gilkerson of deux fm.
Originally from small town Nova Scotia, Anna Gilkerson left the rural landscape of her youth to study fashion at FIT in New York City and at Polimoda in Italy. This lovely lady is on a mission to create beautiful, wearable clothing and contribute to her local Nova Scotian economy. She brings with her not only passion for the sustainable lifestyle but also experience – she was previously a designer at eco-favourite, Matt + Nat and founded Deux FM in 2006.
The line, which is pronounced deux femmes – implies two women or the dual woman. In Gikerson’s words, “Deux fm is for the woman who broadcasts both fashion and ethics.” For Fall 2009, Gilkerson continues to hones her trademark clean-lined, yet feminine styles at affordable prices.
Adding another notch in her eco-fashion belt, Gilkerson will be participating in Eco Chic Geneva in in January 2010, a conference in conjunction with the United Nations Trade Development to promote and educate the world about the sustainable clothing industry, as well as the GreenShows in NYC on Feb.17th, 2010.
Here are some excerpts from our chat. Scroll below to see some of our favourites from Deux FM’s 2009 fall/winter collection.
Y. Have you always wanted to design? And was it always clothing?
A.G. I was always into art and design. I studied art in New York before I went to F.I.T. I took painting, sketching and sculpting- all before I decided to get serious about fashion design. As a kid I loved to make costumes and fashion drawings but I was never overly serious about it. It was one of my joys, simple as that.
Now I can’t believe I am so lucky I get to do what have loved since I was a child and I get to be involved in an important industrial movement that is doing good for the world.
Y. How has growing up in Nova Scotia influenced you and your philosophy with respect to design?
A.G. Nova Scotia is a very eco minded place. Our provincial recycling system is stellar and we are also very community oriented and locally focused here. It is a very natural place and it’s quiet, the air smells good here.
Y. What was your experience in NYC like and Florence?
A.G. The experiences were amazing! Coming from a small town and taking up digs in NYC was an intense adventure. I learned a great deal about hard work and dedication in New York and a lot about living life from the Italians. The Italians have such natural style and I love their attitude to life. I rode a bicycle there and took the subway in NYC. Both very green methods of transport whereas in NS we drive a lot because it is the country and there is nothing here. That is what I do miss about the city, the energy and the passion and the eco transportation! Montreal was huge for me as well, I worked in the fashion industry there and I learned so much about collection development and production. Having my own business has taught me how to run a business, so there has been lots of trial and errors. I am content with the path I have taken thus far.
Y. Do you think we can change the world through our clothing?
A.G. I think that the green fashion industry is one facet of a global scale movement. It is equally important as all the others but I think it takes more than just clothing.
Fashion can help because it speaks to a young generation. There are so many brands now that provide green fashion equal to or better than the non-green.
It is hard to tell the difference these days and this is what helps change.
Y. What inspires you?
A.G. True style, not following trends, honesty, humor, luxurious comfort, beautiful colors and imperfect textures, whole fashion eras and tiny details.
Y. What else are you passionate about?
A.G. My family, music, travel, food, books, movies, the ocean.
Y. Where can we find deux fm (on the west coast)?
A.G. Nowhere as of yet! Alberta and online are the closest you will find. I am hoping to secure some west coast retailers but the competition is crazy over there. BC is a mecca for organic clothing + lifestyle.
Y. Can you speak about any initiatives you are involved in to promote eco fashion in Canada?
A.G. For Fall 2010 we will be launching our new organic-intimates collection that is produced locally by an established century old underwear manufacturer. Recently we provided work to local sewers by making bikinis out of reclaimed fabric ends and we have also worked with a women’s knitting co-op in Peru. We also have begun to provide internships to students and graduates that want to learn more about local and eco fashion business opportunities. We continually donate to charities such as the David Suzuki Foundation and Clean Nova Scotia.
Y. What can we look forward to for your new collection.
A.G. Our Spring 2010 capsule collection is inspired by the old world of wooden sailboats. In coastal Nova Scotia, despite job loss due to factory displacement and over-fishing, there remains a thriving boatbuilding community. The deep blues of the North Atlantic play against the washed out sky and the soft antique whites and taupe of deck, rope and sail. Loosely tailored menswear combine with feminine silhouettes to create a look that is both function and fashion. Fabrics include hemp, soy, lyocell and organic cotton jersey blends, bamboo denim, OEKO-TEK certified organic cotton shirting, linen jersey manufactured in Canada and GOTS certified organic cotton denim from India.
*We also have a capsule summer collection also coming out at a later delivery. New swimwear styles, gorgeous dresses and soft summery sweaters in bold jungle hues.
I recently wrote a guide to the best eco-yoga mats for Granville Magazine’s The Goods Blog... Thought you might find it interesting.
If finding your style of yoga class and/or teacher from the hundreds displaying their offerings in Vancouver wasn’t overwhelming enough, try finding the ideal yoga mat.
What? You thought yoga was supposed to be this peaceful, bliss-inducing activity? Well, take a breath, a slow, deep one, maybe even a couple.