Meditation: it never goes out of style. While fashion folk constantly seek out the latest wellness trend — IV drips, sensory deprivation, infrared saunas, cryotherapy, turmeric and beet lattes — the centuries-old practice is finding new currency.
“It’s tough within the industry now,” says Khajak Keledjian, who opened the NYC-based meditation center Inscape last November. “There’s such a disconnect between fashion and wellness. Fashion — high standards, execution. You know how it is, it’s 24/7, never stops. We’re always on to the next.”
Keledjian, who founded Intermix, began meditating 10 years ago during the U.S. economic downturn. “I was a young ceo, I was 35 years old running a company of 50-plus people, how do you navigate that? What do I do, call the people from Neiman’s and Saks? They didn’t know any better,” Keledjian recalls. He thinks that the fashion world could use meditation to find clarity and calm in a continuously frenetic industry. “People need a way of shutting down or rebooting,” he says. “Even our spare time, we’re always on our devices. When do you have an empty opportunity? What happens is you’re constantly on.”
Here, a few designers share how their meditation practice affects their approach to design, business, and life.
Demna Gvasalia:“Every morning I do meditation for one hour to start the day from zero, with a white page, and it does work. I started it not so long ago and I was quite skeptical about it. It takes some time to learn it but it does work. Holistic fashion. It helps to calm the mind.”
Donna Karan:“At Urban Zen, we find the calm in the chaos, a little time to go deeper, letting go of my ego, just being. It’s wonderful to meditate in groups; the energy is so strong with a teacher when you feel the energy coming back and forth.”
Misha Nonoo:“I have seen an enormous shift in my focus which has translated into business decisions that I’ve made recently. There is a certain creativity and freedom that I found in learning to meditate. I also find that I benefit from feeling more calm in situations that might usually have been particularly stressful.”
Karen Walker:“Working in the fashion world your job takes you out of the present and into the future. The fashion business is fundamentally about ‘what’s next,’ not about ‘what’s now.’ If you want to have moments of being in the present you have to create those for yourself. I have a very disciplined approach to this. I build in time to be in the present every day — with yoga, meditation or both. I find that by creating those still, calm, present moments when I come back into the space of looking forward and creating the future it’s with more clarity and calmness.”
Eileen Fisher:“Practicing mindfulness and meditation greatly impacts how I show up in the workplace. Be it in difficult situations or with difficult people, I find myself welcoming people in a warmer way. In the company, we have a simple practice that we’ve been doing for about 10 years. We chime a bell and take a moment of silence before every meeting. It helps set the stage to be more present and thoughtful. We can leave behind whatever was going on from the previous meeting or conversation. It allows us to each just pause for a few moments, give ourselves a little space, create awareness and ask, ‘Why am I doing this and why does it matter? Why do I care about it?’ I think it helps us care more about the work itself – the whole of the work, not just about the product that we create.”
Prabal Gurung: “I practice TM, which means transcendental meditation. I meditate for 20 minutes every morning and 20 minutes every afternoon. The germination of a new idea starts in an empty space. Meditation allows your mind to create that empty space, which in turn, allows for these new ideas. It is an essential part of my design process.”
Jennifer Fisher:“I think more before I speak and act, and for me that sort of self-awareness is really powerful. Especially being a business owner, because you’ve got to make sure that you are responding and replying to people appropriately and not only being kind, but also being mindful of business and not just rushing to do things.”