They were black, and long, with a narrow tapering leg and a drawstring waist, clearly inspired by the traditional Indian “churidar” – a ubiquitous garment worn with a long tunic by men and women; yet here they were reinterpreted in a cool, modern way.
I looked closer, the fabric was soft and stretchy and around the waistband it was silky smooth. The final touch? A band of seven sparkly stones carefully sown in a vertical line on the right hip area. The hangtag read “Toyoga” and described the seven chakra stones and their healing properties.
Intrigued, I decided I had to get to know the designer behind what I think is one of the coolest and most chic yoga clothing lines I’ve recently come across.
The lady behind the designs, which is a whole collection, with leggings, pants, tanks, sweaters and even shorts is Alma Romanello. A petite and pretty Italian woman with an infectious smile, Alma has worked in fashion in Italy since her twenties and resisted coming to Bali, even though she had a plum design job offered to her. It took a trip to India that finally prompted Alma to visit Bali. She stayed for a month and after a few more conversations with the founders of Simple Konsep, a beautiful clothing/ lifestyle store in Seminyak (Bali’s fashion playground), agreed to work on their women’s line.
Going deeper in Bali:
Bali, as it seems to, for so many artists and creative souls offered Alma a different way of living. “All of a sudden, versus the rushed pace of life in Rome, I had more time,” she says.
“It’s easier to get help (in Bali) with simple tasks like cooking and cleaning, so you have more time for introspection and self inquiry.”
Alma delved deeper into her Kundalini yoga studies, (she became a certified teacher six years ago at Yogi Bhajan’s ashram in New Meixco), went on silent retreats with a Balinese shaman – when we first met, she had just returned from two weeks of silence and her calm was palpable – and decided that she didn’t want to work in fashion. She quit her job at Simple Konsep and took some time off, shuttling between Bali and Italy and delving deeper into her yoga practice.
It was Yoga eventually that brought the designer back into the world of fashion.
“I realized that there were no yoga clothes that were my style” she smiles. Meaning, stylish and fashionable. She found things to be too sporty and not elegant.
“I also began to experience the power of the chakra stones, through my kundalini practice,” she says.
“I began to notice how things shifted in my life, once I began wearing a chakra stone male every day. I decided I wanted to make clothing that incorporated the chakra beads.”
She came up with an innovative idea, sewing seven semi precious stones on each piece of clothing, to imbue the wearer with their healing properties. The stones are beautiful, each a sparkly reminder of our energetic body and comprise of: amethyst, lapis lazuli, turquoise, aventurine, citrine, carnelian and garnet.
“Originally, I wanted to place them at the chakra centres,” she smiles.
Discovering that this was not too practical, Alma placed the stones in a decorative line down the side of pants or leggings, on the front of a tank top etc.
She also decided to design in a rhythm that was slower and not attuned to the trends of fashion’s seasonal collections.
“ I focus on classic pieces that you can mix and match” she says, “the idea is to wear Toyoga for many years, not to continually buy new pieces because of a trend.”
Industry insiders are taking note. Today, Toyoga is found in some of the world’s most exclusive spas and wellness centres from Como Shambhala in Bali, to the Four Seasons in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos.
Word on the street is that we’ll see it soon in Vancouver as well. In the meanwhile, here are some pieces from Toyoga’s current line. And if you love the clothing as much as I do (I’ve worn the pants non-stop for about ten months now – they’re perfect for traveling), contact Toyoga via email at: mail (at) toyoga.co