Five minutes with Jyoti Morningstar

Good talked to Jyoti Morningstar, founder of WE-AR on the evolution of her iconic ethical fashion label, her hopes for the future of the industry and why she said yes to joining the Good Sustainable Style Show at New Zealand Fashion Week 2018. 

Interview Carolyn Enting. Photography by Lukas Vritilek

What is the story behind the name of your brand, and why did you choose it?

WE-AR is an interpretation of my personal mantra SO-HAM which speaks of Oneness and our own power as creators of our own experience.

When did you launch your label?

Conceptually in 2005…wow! What a journey. We launched with our first store in 2009 – an experimental space in a warehouse on Cross St behind K Rd.

Where you did grow up in NZ? And how do you think that informed your path and where you are today?

Mostly in Wanganui. The river and wild ocean there had a big impact in my life. My big brother and I learned to swim young and a lot of our sports and fun were water based. Swimming across that huge river with its strong currents, jumping off cliffs and rope swims, rowing, swim training, bashing through massive swell etc. all developed a pretty hearty approach to risk I think. My bro is 5 years older than me so I was forever trying to keep up with him and his friends ha ha.

Another interesting thing about growing up in Wangas in the 80s is that it was a real hotbed of counter culture. Our family and friends were all about alternative living and organics. We had a food co-op, friends were practicing permaculture and living in sustainable communities and actively asserting positive values through campaigning and protests. Growing up in an environment that supported expressing one’s truth and actively working to make it a reality made it natural for me to back my beliefs through lifestyle choices and creating sustainable alternatives to the status quo.

What is your brand purpose/mission statement?

Our ethos is embodied in our name WE-AR which means oneness. Our purpose is to bring people home to themselves. We believe that connection starts with one’s inner self so our clothes are designed to bring the wearer into connection with herself and from there into connection with tribe and the earth systems that support us.

If you had to describe your point of difference, what would that be?

We choose to act with kindness at every level of design and process.

How would you describe your brand aesthetic?

Belyingly simple and future classic. We aim to design pieces that feel like they already belong to a really great version of yourself. Our garments look simple but always embody something unique that graces the wearer with a subtle edge of her own.

What are you most looking forward to about being part of the Good Sustainable Style Show at NZ Fashion Week?

Ah the whole thing is super exciting! I have so much respect for Good’s editor Carolyn and her long term commitment to sustainability and New Zealand fashion. Working together on presenting the industry’s best mindful fashion and beauty products is total dream for me. We’ve entered an era where so many people want to shop in a way that affirms their passions and beliefs without compromising on sartorial excellence and this show is standing for that.

When you were invited to take part in the show, what made you say yes?

When we were hearing about the show over an excellent cup of coffee at Orphan’s I was, of course, super excited to say yes because I want New Zealand to be part of the mindful fashion movement that’s sweeping the industry globally. And who better to front the inaugural event than New Zealand’s leading sustainable lifestyle magazine GOOD headed up by Carolyn Enting who is such an established name in fashion journalism.

What will you be showing on the runway?

A soft explosion of Spring’s wild child beauty.

What is your hope for the future of fashion?

That continued consumer interest in mindfully made product leads a supply chain transformation that offers fair renumeration for farmers to play a determinative role in cleaning up soil and water quality globally. As people continue to express what they care about by shopping sustainable brands they are voting with their dollars for fair wages that can alleviate poverty and dramatically contribute to a tide of health and wellbeing for people, community and planet. It’s just so awesome and we are all part of making this real.

What fabrics do you love working with most, and why?

I love cotton, linen and cashmere. Cotton for its skin touch – there is just nothing else like it – it grows itself so beautifully and requires no chemical processes to become such a wide variety of amazing textiles. Linen for its rawness and way it takes pigments and reflects light. Cashmere for its incredible lightness and warmth. Once you wear cashmere you’re basically lost because even the finest merino is coarse in comparison. (As a side note, I love goats. They’re so cute and amazingly resourceful – they can live and flourish in the most austere conditions which I admire).

Not many people know you are an incredible yoga teacher? Can you share some words about your yoga journey.

You’re sharing my secrets! Yoga has been the steady heartbeat of my life. My mother is a yogi and every aspect of my life has been infused by the teachings of yoga. Yoga is an amazing friend. Along with keeping your body temple radiantly healthy, yoga brings peace of mind through the knowledge of interconnection and innate perfection.

For more on WE-AR, visit we-ar.com, and for tickets to the Good Sustainable Style Show, click here

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