‘INNER PEACE’ Illuminates The Modernity of Tai Chi
Modernity is a strange and evolving thing. Stranger still is the notion of being a skilled modernist. Supposing such a talent were possible, the foremost key performance indicator is surely the ability to juggle things; to toggle naturally between them. Juggling and toggling. Being (not a creative but adjectivally) creative and a critical thinker, a good friend and a good lover, heathy yet not so healthy that you’re a snore — it’s all very dichotomous. And so, as a by-product, another criteria point emerges: the ability to disconnect from noise, wind down and decompress. To centre body and mind.
We can't promise that wearing CLOT’s INNER PEACE FW17 pieces will unlock a more balanced mind and body — however this interplay of the two did heavily influence the collection.
It all begins with the practice of Tai Chi. You know, the ancient Chinese style of exercise originally conceived as a fighting art. A Taoist monk by the name of Zhang San Feng is fabled to be its creator, and Tai Chi’s genesis may be traced back as many as 1500 years. The thing is, old doesn’t mean outdated. This business is practiced by millions worldwide each day.
And so, borrowing from the philosophies of Tai Chi, CLOT’s offering resides at the juncture of traditional and hypermodern. Of course, rather than straight up lessons in Tai Chi (complicated), CLOT translates them for the zeitgeist (practical).
The brand’s quintessential 90s leaning returns with boxy tee and hoodie silhouettes alongside slick coach jackets and streetwise button-downs. A colour palette of mostly monochrome and navy is spliced with candy tones like turquoise and pale pink. Unsurprisingly though, it’s the prints that hold most of the magic.
And the yin yang. Tai Chi pivots on the yin and yang, each half a contrary yet complementary energy. Interplaying are the forces of movement and stillness; dark and light; female and male; earth and heaven — the dualities are unending. Yang energies propel outward and harbour the “radiant light of the sun as well as its fiery heat,” while yin energies retreat inward and are associated with “the dark of the moon, rest, regeneration, regrowth, and creativity”. And like strong coffee and hard liquor, neither trumps the other. There is harmony and equality in difference.
CLOT’s designers were interested in this reciprocity of opposites, and the collection features the symbol in a few different iterations. For one, the Yin et le Yang Tee literally directs the body’s traffic, arrows pointing skyward and south. Elsewhere, the Shifu (or 師傅, meaning skilful person or master) Tee uses the yin yang but more playfully, appropriating it into a smiley: a more hype-y articulation of the narrative.
Another motif is the sun. The Mid Line Tee features a slim red stripe cutting vertically down the body, front and back. This line in Chinese is known as zheng wu xian or 正午線 which refers to the body’s core in Tai Chi, and more broadly, symbolises the sun’s highest point at noon at the Forbidden City.
‘Why Tai Chi Is As Good For You As CrossFit’, wrote the good people at Time earlier this year. When comparing such diametrically opposed regimes, such a fact seems difficult to corroborate — however, Time did reason that across numerous studies, Tai Chi has been linked to lower rates of insomnia, depression, illness and inflammation. When the pace of 2017 threatens your wellbeing, consider adding Tai Chi to your arsenal.
Further reading: this video here of the great Allen Ginsberg reciting a poem he wrote about Ta Chi whilst performing it in his New York kitchen in 1984. Meta. Admittedly, it’s perhaps more twee than zen but Ginsberg is very compelling in this semi-related detour.
CLOT Fall 2017 "INNER PEACE" drops on September 8 on CLOT.com and at JUICE stores.
Words / Melissa Kenny
Photography / Elaine Li for CLOT Fall 2017