Both us co-founders of Secondsguru have embraced the practice of yoga for years now (14yrs between the two of us!). We still can’t claim to be all flexible and bendy, but what we can affirm is that we love yoga. The initial years saw us dressing in anything that looked good (studios these days have keen yogis dressed to kill!); but over time, our buying has changed, inching towards sustainable labels. They may cost more than the fast fashion labels, but last much longer and honestly, we walk into the yoga studio wearing an ethical piece of clothing and feeling like a million bucks. If you, like us, are looking to match your outfit with the ethos of yoga – or for the comfort that organic dressing brings to the body, or even just the beauty of a thoughtfully designed outfit, read on!
We sat with Ms Takako Ozone, a yoga enthusiast and freshly-minted entrepreneur, who brings Yin Yang Yoga & Active Wear from Japan to Singapore. Takako is an accounting and tax professional with over 10 years’ experience in the field. She has contributed to professional journals, conducted training and spoken at accounting and finance seminars. More recently, she founded The Conscious Lifestyle Pte Ltd, which is currently the sole distributor of Yin Yang in Singapore. Currently, the brand is available through their online site and regular pop-ups [see upcoming pop-ups at the end of the article].
What inspired you to diverge from your corporate life and launch Yin Yang in Singapore?
I came to Singapore 5 years ago. I love the food, culture and people within this cosmopolitan city. However, there are times which I feel “Mottainai”.
Mottainai is a Japanese word, it means conveying a sense of regret concerning waste. For example, when I was in Japan, worn-out shoes and clothes are usually mended and re-used. When I got to Singapore, I was surprised to see customers discarding their old shoes the moment they purchase a new pair!
Fast fashion is widespread in Singapore and people are absorbed into a culture of consumerism. We get to purchase our favorite products from a plethora of choices and we quickly switch attentions from old to new products in the market.
I feel “Mottainai” on the consumption patterns in Singapore and therefore decided that I should do something to promote sustainable consumption here. Fueled by this believe, along with my passion for Yoga, I decided to bring Yin Yang Yoga & Active Wear into Singapore.
Tell us more about the story behind the label – what values does Yin Yang stand for?
Three Japanese women who were extremely passionate about Yoga founded Yin Yang Yoga & Active Wear in 2008. They wanted to establish a conscious brand that is suitable for both Yoga, as well as casual wear. In order to fulfill their visions, they embarked on a journey of creating stylish and comfortable yoga wear. They thereafter created a brand which advocates for ladies with grace, values a conscious lifestyle and is mindful of protecting the environment.
In 2009, Yin Yang was established in Kyoto, Japan. Right from launch, it produces apparels that are made of top quality organic cottons. A few years later, Yin Yang ventured into the manufacturing facilities in Bali and increased the range of products. In the year 2015, it commenced sales in Taiwan.
In 2016, we commenced sales in Singapore, through The Conscious Lifestyle Pte. Ltd. (I am a distributor of the brand in Singapore, not the founder of the brand.)
Yin Yang donates 1% of their sales profits to the orphanages in Bali.
With the vision of “harmony in your lifestyle”, Yin Yang hopes to bring its customers into a realm of peace and harmony with nature.
How does its product stand out from the other yoga apparel brands?
Yin Yang’s products are made of natural materials such as (certified) organic cotton and botanical dye. Organic cotton is produced ethically, therefore eliminating environmental damages as well as health implications on workers. Agricultural chemicals are also completely absent in the manufacturing processes of our organic cotton.
Our clothing are meticulously manufactured with carefully selected materials. We focus on creating comfortable wear, as well as environment-friendly manufacturing processes. Based on comments and feedbacks consolidated, we create products that are most desired by many.
What makes us different? Three things: the quality of our products, the unique designs and of course, its eco-friendly aspect.
Many of our customers are completely fascinated and in love with the texture of our products. Since we use top-quality eco-friendly materials in the production process, our products feel incredibly soft and silky. You wouldn’t believe how comfortable it is to wear our clothes!
Our products are unique in a sense that they are specially curated for all occasions. In particular, we hope for our products to be worn at work, as well as in Yoga classes.
As for the eco-friendly aspect, like i said before, i feel that it is particularly important for people to start recognising the importance of the sustainable fashion. We hope that through our products, we can introduce this concept to the rest of Singapore. For those who are already familiar with the concept, we are here to provide them with the most sustainable option, since products like ours are not easily found in the malls still.
You have two lovely collections on sale – Kyoto and Bali. How do they differ? Is it in design or production process or both?
We have 2 collections in Yin Yang: Kyoto collection and Bali collection. The Kyoto collection takes more of a Japanese kind of style, simple yet elegant. The Bali collection gives off a more tropical vibes, featuring the unique tie-dye designs.
As for the production process, it differs slightly too. The Kyoto Collection is made in Kyoto, Japan while the Bali Collection is made in Bali, Indonesia.
Although both collections feature the organic cotton used to manufacture the products, the cottons used are of different certification.
The products of the Kyoto collection are made of organic cotton certified by Control Union in the Netherlands and JOCA in Japan. Also, we dye our products in accordance with the global environment standard of STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®.
The products of the Bali collection are made of organic cotton certified by Textile Exchange in Turkey. Our dyeing processes are based on the traditional dye craft which originated in Sunba, an island in Indonesia. Our dyes are extracted from five different types of indigenous trees and along with our exclusive dyeing techniques, vivid and unique colors are produced.
Also, we are all aware of the detrimental consequences manufacturing factories can bring upon to the environment. Yin Yang has cooperated with an environmentally conscious production factory in Bali to avoid harming the nature in the production process. This particular factory makes it a point to minimize pollution and also invests in anti-pollution techniques in their production processes.
With so many fast fashion brands selling yoga apparel and low prices, how do you convince consumers to invest in a Yin Yang outfit? What has been your experience with the Singapore consumer? Are people ready to pay a premium for eco-friendly products?
We have met and introduced our brand’s story to many customers at our popup stores and the customers have all been extremely interested in what we are doing. In fact, we have not only made sales but also struck up countless meaningful conversations with many. I feel that for us to convince people to buy our products, it is so much more than merely marketing the products or even the brand. It is really about selling the whole idea of sustainable fashion and to be honest, it is not hard to stir resonations here. People get it, the only problem is that they are not aware of it.
Although Yoga apparels have pretty much saturated the market in recent years, the idea of an eco-friendly brand is still relatively uncommon in Singapore. Many people may not be familiar with the concept of organic cotton or natural dye but it is definitely an upcoming topic of interest. Therefore, through our products, we will like to introduce the concept of a conscious lifestyle to people. We are not promoting mere clothes. We are promoting a lifestyle.
From our experience so far, we realise that it really depends on the quality. You need to make people feel that the products are worth their money. Yes, people do want to be eco-friendly. However, the value of the products have to be more than merely the environmental benefits. For Yin Yang, we can say that people are definitely ready to pay, since they are paying for not just the eco-friendly aspects, but also its premium quality.
How would you compare it to your experience in Japan, where the brand was founded?
Yin Yang started off in Kyoto, founded by 3 Japanese women who are passionate about Yoga. The brand was created because they always have a hard time finding a balance between versatility, comfort and fashion in Yoga clothes. They really wanted something that can be worn in Yoga studios, in town or even in office.
In Singapore, it is common for people to wear yoga wear and walk around in town, but in Japan, people are more conservative and they would change their clothes before and after yoga practices. They usually find it too revealing to wear Yoga outfits outside.
One of founders, who also happens to be a yoga teacher, started off by selling Yin Yang apparels to her students at her studio. These students are usually particularly concerned about obtaining wellness through Yoga and are often especially considerate for the environment as well. Therefore, their values coincides with Yin Yang’s philosophy, which explains why they would be interested in our brand.
In Japan, Yin Yang has a lot of loyal customers. Once they buy Yin Yang product, they repeatedly purchase our products and often recommend us to their friends.
I chanced upon Yin Yang 3 years ago. At that time I did not know about their philosophy and their founders’ vision. I met them again in 2016 and decided to be a solo distributor in Singapore because I empathized with their thoughts and actions. For example, they consider the wellness of mother earth, prioritise the well-being of the craftsmen and even donate 1% of sales to orphanage in Bali.
Any plans of expanding to shop space in Singapore, where our reader can touch and feel the product? Any pop-up market where we should look out for you?
Yes, definitely! Having a shop space is definitely in our plan. We understand that people want to touch and feel the products. However, we are still very new in Singapore and a shop is something that we have to take a little more time to conceptualise. It wouldn’t be something that is going to happen within the next few months but you can definitely look out for our shop in the near future!
As for popups, yes!! We do have quite a few coming up! Do note down the dates!
1. Popup at Luxe Sydney
Venue: Luxe Sydney (1 Keong Saik Road #01-04 The Working Capitol Building, The Working Capitol, 089109)
Unit Location: #01-04 The Working Capitol Building
Date: 11th March
2. Staff Bazaar @ STC
Venue: SIA Training Centre (720 Upper Changi Road East)
Dates: 13th March and 15th March
Time: 11:30- 14:00
Dates: 1-16 May 2017
And finally, which is your favorite outfit from Yin Yang and why?
Actually, all the products are my favorite. All our products feels incredibly silky and the soft touch is almost addictive! Trust me, they are amazingly comfortable.
Our product may not be cheap, but they are really long lasting!
Current my favorite pieces are the Yogi Short Dress and Perfect leggings. Yogi Short Dress looks a little bit more dressy. It is extremely versatile and appropriate for all occasions, such as work in office, at a casual party, gym, pilates and even yoga practices. I like to wear it with pants and a blazer in office. After work, I would change into our Perfect leggings and do Yoga.