Maharishi is the brainchild of Hardy Blechman, a British designer, born in Bournemouth in 1963. The brand's signature military aesthetic and unique vision have propelled it into the minds of many, and it still holds a unique position within the fashion industry. Its respect for military garments and the history of them, combined with Blechmans unique outlook and worldview creates a design language that cannot be replicated by other brands and still holds its ground within its own niche.
The designer grew up collecting military memorabilia and judo belts, which can clearly be seen as influences when he created the brand Maharishi. After embarking on a spiritual journey through south-east Asia in his late teens, early twenties, he found himself working for an Indonesian clothing supplier. This was his first of many moves within his unconventional career in the fashion industry.
In 1994 he founded Maharishi, working together with a factory in India to create clothing out of hemp, which was unusual at that time, but a more sustainable alternative to the cotton and polyesters which were popular at the time and still are today. This turned out to be not very successful at the time, but his other project; repurposing and upcycling military garments managed to take off and make waves within the fashion industry. It was just different enough to put himself in a unique position but familiar enough to take off with more mainstream appeal. His ‘urban warrior’ aesthetic with Maharishi was a refreshing hit among fashion fans and tastemakers and his next hit would lie around the corner.
In the latter half of the 90’s he would debut his most popular item to this day, a contemporary classic and design icon; the Maharishi Snopant, which would also land him an award by the British fashion council. There are several reasons why the snopant has become such a staple for Maharishi. The unconventional use of fabrics combined with the excellent tailoring and durability made it perfect for the zeitgeist of the late 90’s, where baggier fits were popular and the military inspired garments would blend in perfectly with the wardrobe of that time period.
The Maharishi Snopants consist of a durable cotton blend, making it versatile but also tough and serious looking. The combination of this with the elegant and tasteful embroidered graphics on the pants made it an unmistakable classic design which would influence many brands to come. Maharishi would define that era and many celebrities, including Jennifer Anniston, would become fans of Maharishi, often spotted by paparazzi wearing the Maharishi Snopant. Maharishi would continue its design journey and Blechman continued to find ways to challenge the fashion industry with his designs and influences, cementing Maharishi in the unique spot it still finds itself in today.
The mastering of upcycling and sourcing interesting garments to use for his Maharishi collections allowed Blechman to create his magnum opus, his book: DPM, which stands for disruptive pattern material. In this book he dissects the use of colour and camouflage on our garments and the camouflages used across the world, the conditions which they are used in and the purpose they serve.
Personal Maharishi favourites among the team include the camouflage jackets and M65 jackets. The brand often also uses kimono-like silhouettes for their garments, creating a cultural blend which demilitarised the connotation of the source material used, which is a mission Blechman seeks with his work at Maharishi. The clothes are also often pre-washed in ritual fashion to cleanse them from their military meaning and allow Maharishi to be a pacifist military brand. The use and value of rituals in fashion is still understated today and Maharishi is one of the few brands that seem to embody their clothing with any form of spirituality.
The Maharishi collections are sometimes themed after certain works of fiction or literature, like Sun Tzu’s Art of War or the film Apocalypse now. This allows Maharishi to play around with the perception their audience has of them, as they might have been drawn in by the clothing itself, but now dig deeper through the references within them. Maharishi’s sophisticated clothing is full of interesting references that can be picked apart and allow for more research. The storytelling through Maharishi’s clothing and references make the brand unique among its competitors, who often shy away from the more complex themes Maharishi manages to tackle with their clothing.
Maharishi also has unique, industry leading ways of tackling fashion’s sustainability problem. Maharishi is very well known for their upcycling endeavours, which tests the designers creativity and through the limitations they have, create beautiful garments. Apart from that though, their choices in fabric tend to have a lower carbon footprint, using hemp, organic cotton and recycled nylon for many of their garments, and their utilitarian details and lack of trends make them wardrobe staples for many years to come. Maharishi has always been, and continues to be, a brand to keep an eye on.