BY COLLEEN PATTERSON
In the Buddhist temples and monasteries of Japan, practitioners of Soto Zen meditation will gather and embark on extended periods of zazen wherein the body, breath, and mind converge and conflate. Words and images roll off the mind, leaving stillness in their wake. Thoughts are suspended and, by some accounts, an extraordinary power accumulates in the void.
That power is joriki, the inspiration of CEO and Founder James Langer’s latest eponymous venture: high-end yoga apparel manufactured in Chicago contributes a portion of each purchase to humanitarian organizations that help women and children in impoverished communities.
“Giving back is at the heart of Joriki’s foundation,” says Langer. “We view ourselves as a business that finds beautiful prints and patterns from all corners of the globe and exposes the U.S. consumer to these amazing artisans, thereby allowing us to support those local communities directly through our giving back program.”
In 2017, Joriki will visit a handful of their charitable partner organizations such as the Sumba Foundation to assess the impact of its contributions. The ultimate aim is to make larger contributions to each charity and expand their reach to touch more communities in need of assistance.
Langer first discovered his love of textiles in his late thirties, traveling throughout India, Southeast Asia, and Africa, before taking on the Amazon jungle. Lovely as the colors and patterns which caught his eye were, they also represented a glaring disparity between thriftless American living and the unremitting poverty of certain obscure communities.
“He’d always been involved in giving back in Chicago and then he traveled throughout Southeast Asia and kept seeing all these female artisans living in total poverty. He started to get really inspired. ‘What if I start a brand inspired by these places and also give back as well?’” says Amanda Cohen, Head of Marketing for Joriki. “We’re a yoga company but we’re also about mental health, mindfulness, and positive change.”
In sum: Joriki is a next level lifestyle brand. The Joriki customer isn’t merely physically active and health-conscious, they’re concerned with making the world a better place. Every hang-tag on a Joriki article expresses exactly how and whom the purchase will benefit its artisans because every one of its customers values responsibility in a brand. Today, we subsist on much more than aesthetic taste and aspirations; we’re driven by involvement and personality.
This is Langer’s first foray into apparel, but he’s been practicing zazen for several years and has always committed his time and attention to charity. “We admire companies such as Google and Facebook who are working to change the world by bringing technology places in the world that currently do not have access to the internet or computers,” says Langer. “The origins of poverty are fascinating to me; and learning about different methods and techniques for improving poverty is a passion of mine.”
Thus, Joriki, the dynamic power which, once mobilized, enables us to act instantly and collectedly, is helping alleviate global poverty — and elevating the company beyond yoga apparel into a lifestyle brand which doesn’t just look cool. It inspires and informs.
After two years of identifying amazing art, sourcing the materials, and utilizing the most advanced manufacturing techniques, Joriki has positioned itself as one of the highest quality yoga apparel manufacturers in the marketplace in the same tradition of TOMS and Warby Parker. There’s wisdom to it’s motto: “Look Forward, Give Back.”