I am Minhee Cha designer and founder of Hanuman Yoga clothing and this is my manifesto what I believe in and what I do.
The transformative power of Yoga is at the core of my brand and runs through the very threads of my collections. Developing a fabric that transformed an everyday plastic water bottle we so readily use and flippantly dispose of. Regardless of the dire consequences to our Mother Earth became the seed my design journey grew from. I wanted to create a collection that encapsulated a Butterfly Effect embodying the concept that a small change in one place in this complex world can have a large effect somewhere elseThe onion metaphor has often been used to describe the process of delving into a person’s psyche. Layers are removed to reveal what is beneath, toward the core. The metaphor reflects the many layers that we have inside us. In the same way when thinking about my silhouettes I want to peel back the years of trends our culture has premeditated and create clothing that reflects our core and inner beauty. When searching through the history archives for inspiration I was struck by the original garments warn by the Greeks The Chiton, this was a simple tunic, which consisted of a wide rectangular tube of material secured along the shoulders and upper arms by a series of fasteners. The simplicity of the beginning, nature and honoring the body our soul resides inspired me. So my designs became rooted in this simple and versatile idea of draping the fabric around your body rather than squeezing it into someone else's idea of size and shape. My wraps can be worn a different way every day to reflect the versatility on your spirit. We want to get dressed in the morning, and see the best possible version of ourselves looking back. We want clothing to reflect our inner beauty and the transformative journey our life if taking us on. Hanuman Yoga Clothing is a lifestyle,live it.
1. Brand image/ concept
The concept is to make clothing “going back to orgin ”.
When I was little, I often visited my grandmother’s house. There were many fabrics and my sister and I played with those fabrics all the time. We wrapped them on ourselves and made them into clothing. It was just a fun hobby for us, but when there were no sewing machines, people were doing the same thing. They just wrapped themselves with a piece of fabric. I studied a lot of traditional clothing including Indonesian, Greek, Korean, and Japanese. All the cultures have their own traditional style. And a lot of them have a wrapping style like the Japanese Kimono or Indian Sari.
As a designer, I try to go back to those times, go back to the origin. Use a piece of fabric, as little sewing as possible and make it as simple as possible.
2. Design concepts
The design concept is “shift the perception”.
Yoga clothing means lifestyle clothing. Yoga is not just all about body flexibility or a one-hour class. It is a philosophy. To me, it means life, lifestyle. So I want to wear yoga clothing everywhere. I wanted to make something which I could wear not only in the class but also outside the class, as casual wear or a night out wear. That is why many of our products could be worn a multitude of ways. When I started making yoga clothing, most people were wearing black and white. There was no colorful Yoga clothing. I was thinking “why does yoga clothing have to be always black or white, not colorful?”. So I decided to make colorful yoga clothing. But people told me Yoga clothing has to be black or white because that is going to sell more. I did not care because I like colorful things and a lot of people do like many colors. But it is also true that people tend to put themselves in a box. Say, “I am not a blue person” or “I am a red person,” but who told you that you are not a blue person or you are red person? It is just that you are assuming so. At my shop, a lot of people try different colors and are surprised to find themselves looking good in a color that they have never tried before. This is also the idea of “shifting the perception”. I want people to shift their own perception of themselves. I want them to free themselves, give them more chances to find a new part of themselves and express themselves more. Surprisingly, there is no popular color at my shop. We are selling all the colors equally.
3. What is so unique about your products? (ex. fabric, the cut, color selection, print selection, hand-made, environmentally friendly, etc)
The most unique thing about my products is the fabric I use. It is an Austrian fabric called Modal. Modal is very soft and comfortable, so it is mostly used for making underwear and baby clothing. From the perspective of environmental conservation, Modal is also a very sustainable and eco-friendly fabric. I also use recycled polyester made from empty plastic bottles to blend with Modal. The reason why I am being sensitive about sustainability is I feel responsible as a designer. Customers choose my product among many other clothing lines. So, I try to make my clothing as eco-friendly as possible and share the sustainable mind with many people through my product. My clothing is also all hand-made. Some companies don’t know who actually makes their products but I really care about who is making my products. Another unique thing about my clothing is the pattern I use, which is from a Vintage Archive .
4. Are you doing anything to help with sustainability of the environment?
As I mentioned above, the fabric I use is very eco-friendly. Also, I am currently taking a sustainable fashion class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York and studying sustainable fashion and socially responsible manufacturing. It was difficult to find this class but finally I found it, so I am very happy. It was a newly launched this past summer and the professor and all the people are very excited about it too.
5. Designer’s biography
Minhee was born in Seoul, Korea where she studied classical ballet and traditional Korean Dance. When she discovered Yoga in 2002, she said "I knew right away that it was going to be my life." She has since studied in India and the United States and was one of the first students to take the Acroyoga teacher training in California, and also Certified Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy ,Advance Hatha Yoga ,Kids Yoga in India .Jivamukti Yoga in New York .Minhee teaches yoga internationally. She enjoys expressing her creativity through Hanuman Yoga Clothing. "To me yoga is a lifestyle, it's something you live" she says, "So I designed something that I can wear inside and outside the yoga class." This biography was paraphrased from an article in the May 2009 issue of Yoga Journal.
6. Why was this brand started? Were there any difficulties you had faced?
I couldn't find what I liked for yoga clothing so I wanted to make my own.One day, I fell in love with this fabric and I knew it would be good for practice. I designed four pair of pants and found a tailor to make a hundred pieces in different colors. After that I went to a yoga conference with Jenny and Jason,the founders of Acroyoga. I asked the conference organizer if I could sell my clothes at one of the booths. Two hours later, I was all sold out. The biggest difficulty I faced was probably the sudden change I had experienced soon after launching this designing business. I started designing yoga clothing just because I wanted to wear it. So, it was sort of fun thing at the beginning. Then, it suddenly became a real business and I got more responsibility. Everything moved forward so fast and I could not keep up with it. Suddenly the company became bigger than I was and I was controlled by my own company. I was not ready for all those changes.
7. Yogic lifestyles of the designer(s) (ex. how are you leading a yogic lifestyle?
I travel a lot and often live in different time zones, so I try to meditate and practice yoga as much as possible. As a yoga teacher and designer, I also try to live as humbly as possible. Yoga means union, united with the Earth. So, it is important for me to live a sustainable lifestyle and contribute to the earth as much as possible.
8. Messages for the Hanuman fans!
Everybody has a different body figure , I want everybody to enjoy their different looks. So I make my design which fit everybody in different ways. My product is like a flexible cup. The cup can hold any amount of water as it changes its shape in proportion to the quantity. I want to have water shape the cup. So, please feel the flexibility of my products and enjoy expressing yourself more!