Established in 1994 by Hardy Blechman, Maharishi is a contemporary label founded on high-minded ideals. Creating eco-conscious garms with a fashion-forward edge, the brand soon became a cult favourite amongst celebs and editors alike for its appropriation of authentic military clothing. This weekend saw Maharishi (which means ‘great seer’ in Sanskrit) reveal their new S/S16 menswear collection at London Collections Men – we caught up with Hardy after the show to find out more.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the SS16 collection.
As communication technology collapses the distances between populations, a post-geographic culture emerges in which divisions are eroded and diversity is fully embraced. Symbolised by the super-continent Pangaea, in which all the continents of the Earth are one unified landmass, the collection takes inspiration from the clothing worn by devotees within religious orders around the world. Monk’s robes, Judaic prayer strings and capes of the Knights Templar have all been reinterpreted and cross-bred with one another to create a pan-global language of devotional uniform.
What are the signature pieces?
All the camouflage styles are reversible. The sweatshirt cloth Poncho is made in organic cotton, with a 3XDRY finish from Swiss mill Schoeller affording waterproofing. Also the Ribbed Cargo track pants, Upcycled parachute styles and Silk Embroidered kimono tour jacket.
What did you have playing in the studio during the production process?
[It ranged] from the sweet sounds of Ibeyi to the grime instrumentals overlaid with devotional chanting that featured in the show.
What kind of person did you have in mind when putting the collection together?
A contemporary urban traveller who embraces the unity implied by the Pangaea map and the S/S16 slogan, ‘No Rel. Pref’ (aka ‘No Religion Preferred’).
As someone with a penchant for practical fashion, what’s more important in your designs – style or substance?
Reflective of our dualistic universe, we need attend to both the style and the substance.
If you could style anyone in the new S/S16 range, who would you pick and why?
The Dalai Lama, for the inspiration he provides – especially around these themes of unifying religions through their core spiritual messages.
Maharishi aside, what other collections have you particularly enjoyed seeing at LC:M this season?
LC: M has been demanding, not allowing me to get out to the other shows. The graduate show at the Royal College of Art last week had some really interesting work from several designers though, and the show/event format was inspiring.
Your label is known for its eco-friendly credentials. Sustainability is a crucial issue right now – do you think more labels will start to adopt environmentally conscious processes over the next few years?
Environmental concern will continue to grow and will be the norm for future generations, who may well look back on old and current practices with some disdain or horror! In any case, if people don’t self-elect to be concerned, laws will force the issue before too much longer. We are seeing more and more chemicals involved in printing , dyeing and other processes being banned.
How has the fashion industry changed since you founded the label in the 90’s? Have you ever found it challenging to adapt to changing audiences/trends over the last 20+ years?
Maharishi was once unusual to blur the lines between streetwear and high fashion, but that has become the norm. Almost every big house offers sneakers and camouflage these days! Around 10 years ago, when the looser-fit hip-hop inspired silhouettes of the 90’s became less popular, I had to have a dramatic ‘back to the drawing board’ moment. It took me a minute to accept a more fitted silhouette, but I think we’re back on track.
Utility and military wear are influencing a lot of men’s fashion right now. Do you think Maharishi’s aesthetic has played a part in influencing this trend?
It’s hard to have a reasonable perspective when you’re on the inside, but I’d be happy if Maharishi has influenced any of our core intentions: using organic cottons and natural fibres, making durable and practical clothes that will last for time and not become out of style in any hurry.
What are your plans now that LCM is over (and have you had any ideas about next season’s collection yet…)?
The design process can’t really start until I am clear about the concept, which can be a struggle some seasons. I’m keen to bring our development calendar forward to allow for better show planning, and with that in mind, decided a while back to entitle S/S16 Post Geographic Devotional Habits & Uniform Part I… So I’m now ready to dive in immediately to Part II for A/W16.