Joriki, a new, Chicago-based yoga apparel line created by James Langer, launched nationally in October. The clothes, which feature traditional patterns from around the world, draws inspiration from local artisans and supports charitable organizations designed to reduce poverty in the communities from which these patterns hail.
“I’ve always been interested in developmental economics: what the causes and effects of poverty are, different methodologies for alleviating poverty in certain areas of the world, what works and what doesn’t,” Langer says. “At the same time, I became interested in socially conscious businesses and what they were doing to try to produce change in certain areas around the world.”
Inspired by his decade-long involvement in yoga, Langer saw an opportunity to combine his interests by starting a company that both recognizes artisans in impoverished areas around the world and gives back to those in the community. The first line, released this fall, features patterns from Uzbekistan, Indonesia and Bhutan.
“All three of those areas have pockets of very deep poverty and have women in those countries that are very artistic and produce very beautiful fabrics,” Langer says. “We looked for charities within each of those areas that specifically help women in different ways, tying into more developmental-type education programs, doing fair trade exchange with the textiles, promoting health and doing things that the recipient can become active in as opposed to a straight aid giveaway.”
Each pattern supports a particular, local charity. In the inaugural line, proceeds from the Bukhara pattern from Uzbekistan benefits SPINNA Circle, which brings traditional skills into mainstream business. The Cirebon pattern supports BaliWISE, an educational organization that provides literacy, English, personal development, health and vocational education to Balinese women. Proceeds from the Kushutara pattern will go to the AMICUS Foundation, which helps orphaned children, underprivileged families, disenfranchised women and imperiled cultures in Bhutan and Thailand.
While the current line features international patterns, Langer says Joriki has used Chicago inspiration in its products as well.
“After the earthquake in Nepal, we did a Tibetan flag pant that has been very popular. We had a couple people say, ‘Can you do this with a Chicago flag pattern?’” Langer says. “We came up with a couple different mockups, and those pants are in production right now. It’s a little outside the pox from our traditional model of drawing inspiration from different places in the world, but we’ll give back in a similar way to women in need in the city of Chicago.”
Joriki products, which include tops, bottoms and accessories, range in price from $28 to $118, and are currently available online at www.joriki.com. Langer says the brand plans to do pop-up stores and trunk shows and hopes to retail in large, national fitness-type centers as well.