A hot new yoga fashion brand launches with Indian roots and modern flair
The New York-based company was founded by former Goldman Sachs executive Rishi Bali, and he’s passionate about addressing both old world and new world yoga concerns. “I feel like the Lululemons and Athletas are clothing companies that are taking advantage of yoga,” Bali says. “We’re different. I want to be a yoga company. And I want to do everything [clothing-wise] at a higher level.” Obsessing over luxuries like performance fabric and color technologies price the line at $49 to $109.
Bali grew up in India in the Upper Ganges Plains. “It’s the heart of where yoga comes from,” he says. “I understand the culture and have been around yoga my whole life.”
The name of the company comes from the Indian tendency to rhyme, he says. “My mother always said, ‘Do you want some chai shai?’ which means tea and things that go with tea. Yoga Smoga means yoga, and the things that go with it.”
Another huge part of the company is Namaskar (the more respectful form of Namaste in Hindi), the company’s foundation that will sell bracelets woven on hand looms in Himalayan villages, with all proceeds going to health, education, and micro-lending initiatives in those impoverished areas.
The debut collection is made up of five pieces (that come in myriad colors), including three styles of leggings ($96–$109), a tank ($55), and a bra ($49).
Rather than going to fabric store, Yoga Smoga created its own high-performance fabric and color-safe dyes that are eco-friendly.
The proprietary fabric, Aurum, is a blend of Supplex and Lycra that uses nanotechnology to create what Bali calls “sophisticated fibers.” (He says it’s more moisture-wicking, has a better quality stretch, and is more resistant to pilling than any other active fabric available.
Yoga Smoga’s color technology comes from a U.S.-based eco-dye lab. The piece de resistance is Carbon 6, a deep black that the brand trademarked “because it doesn’t fade.” Otherwise, the range of colors is classic (a few shades of blue and a pink), without being too out-there.
Designs are clean and simple, and from a first look, the items feel like slightly higher-end Lulu in both fabric and appearance. (We’ll have to report back on the no pilling or fade claims.) The leggings feel winter-weight and may have gotten more attention than the tanks, which didn’t quite fit right on either an A or a D chest.
Yoga Smoga is only available online right now, but the website is beautifully designed, with clothing models (some of whom are New York instructors like Equinox’s Nadia Zaki and Sarra Morton) showing the styles in active yoga, run, spin, and “around town” poses. Meanwhile, Bali is looking for storefront space and anticipates opening a storefront in the near future.
Which we’re sure New York’s yogi fashionistas would welcome. —Lisa Elaine Held