VANCOUVER-BASED ACTIVE WEAR BRAND TAKES YOU WHEREVER YOU NEED TO GO, BEAUTIFULLY
Story by Alexa Tomaszewski
Photos provided by Karma Wear
Yoga apparel brand Karma Wear has been around since 2002, but the label is currently undergoing major changes to shift the way yoga gear is perceived outside of the studio. Inspired by runway trends, Karma is introducing a series of lifestyle collections to take basic fitness gear from the mat to the street.
“Being from Vancouver we’re pretty much amongst a black sea of tights. We mostly see people wearing black tights to and from yoga and it’s pretty much what people wear around here,” says Carmen Ip, General Manager at Karma. “We felt really inspired to bring new life and fashion and movement to yoga.”
Karma consists of multiple collections but the Studio Line, made up of pieces for yoga, dance, fitness, and Pilates, remains a constant, offering tights, bras and other necessities needed for practice. This part of the collection is the foundation of the Karma wardrobe and is named after the eight limbs of yoga: Yama (universal morality), Niyama (personal observances), Asana (body postures), Pranayama (breathing exercises), Pratyahara (control of the senses), Dharana (concentration and inner awareness), Dhyana (devotion and meditation on the divine) and Samadhi (union with the divine).
“The content of the material is nylon and lycra but we’ve added beautiful detail so it’s not just a pair of black generic tights,” says Ip. “We do a lot of tucking, [and] you’ll see mesh panels, and patterns.”
The Karma Spring/Summer 2012 collection also offers a little something special, separated into three different lines: the Revolution Collection, the Bombshell Collection, and the Movement Collection. Women who have made a positive impact in the world inspire the Revolution Collection, and each piece reflects the unique nature of the woman it has been named after.
The Bombshell Collection is inspired by strong, independent women of the ‘40s and ‘50s and reflects the femininity of that era. Each style highlights the feminine silhouette through detailing and the use of soft, luxurious fabrics like silk.
“Part of our motto is empowering women on-and-off the mat,” Ip says. “So, you’ll see in the Bombshell collection, which was inspired by women early on who inspired roles in Hollywood that were more male-driven. Women who, within the four walls of Karma, really inspire us when they have changed a part of history.”
The Movement Collection reflects this theme of inspirational women featuring pieces which reflect the movement of practice in style, shape, and draping. Each piece is named after a yogi or dancer influential in their practice, and pieces feature soft, unstructured styles and fabrics.
The Movement, Bombshell and Revolution collections are all geared toward “après-yoga” life, and meant to give core gear a stylish slant should you want to hop over to dinner or a movie after your practice.
“We call them lifestyle pieces, where it’s not just worn to a class but carried over off the mat and it turns heads on the streets in Vancouver, Toronto and New York,” says Ip. “We do take a lot of the fashion-inspired trends from Europe off the runway, which are not necessarily from Vancouver.”
Yoga wear can get a bad rap. Ip remembers an anecdote from her time living in Toronto; one night arriving at a restaurant for dinner she observed the dress code sign. It read: “No Tank Tops, No Flip Flops, No Lululemons”.
“We really have since transformed the plain pair of tights into tights that you can wear with heels. That’s one of the things we are really proud of and feel like is our signature item,” says Ip. “The Taylor tight, the Yama tight, the Dorothy tight – with the mesh in the back – are all extremely sexy, and we’re not afraid. We’re unapologetic about talking about women looking sexy in tights.”
In fact, Ip says Karma is proud to stand behind their product and its emergence on the scene as an unabashedly sexy way to leave class. Karma touches on something both needed and wanted by consumers in the fitness market.
Karma Wear is incredibly versatile and the fabrics are chosen with both fashion and function in mind. Ip says each piece is designed to perform in a class, and that wear and tear is of utmost importance (as is fabric and fit). Fabrics are carefully chosen to either function in class, or for après-yoga wear. Lifestyle pieces drape elegantly over core pieces, and are lightweight enough to layer in even the hottest seasons.
For the summer season, collections feature a number of backless styles, and bras complement this detail with lace straps and additional design elements like ruching and tucking. Fabrics are paired together in unexpected ways, creating a fusion of active-meets-street wear which performs and looks beautiful at the same time.
Ip sums up the brand’s success simply. “There’s really no one out there that’s offering what we’re offering, which is really fashionable apparel that crosses over from a class to lifestyle.”