Luxurious to the touch as well as in quality and appearance, strictly eco-friendly and human-friendly, made by women for women to generate a real sense of individuality, comfort, empowerment, and beauty, is one way to describe the IAmVibes clothing brand, created by Katerina Melemeni. The Greek designer has lived all around the world over the last 20 years, from New York and Rome to Sri Lanka and Spain, studying at the KLC School of Design in London and eventually specialising in yoga gear.
Describing herself as “an eclectic, artistic and passionate woman,” Melemeni is certainly drawing the world’s attention not only to an ethical and sustainable range of trendy yoga apparel but also to Greece, a country where 20 years ago yoga was little more than a mystery and when most local fashion designers were relatively unacknowledged beyond their borders. Meanwhile, as a female entrepreneur who overlooks practically all aspects of her business herself – from the actual designs to IAmVibes marketing, social media and more, this dynamic mother of two is also setting an example of the new Greek woman, an example we definitely applaud.
Now based in Athens, Melemeni has created a very successful business. “I only work with beautiful things that a real and spark emotions in me when I see them, wear them or touch them,” Melemeni says. “And I only work with eco-sustainable materials, because we do not have a Planet B. Currently all our fabrics are made in Italy, with eco-friendly yarns and manufactured in the utmost respect for our environment. I want to create an intimate connection with the woman, so my materials are very soft on the skin, but also high performance, so they become excellent for anything we do throughout the day. My clothes may be designed for yoga, but that’s if they’re comfortable during a headstand, they will be comfortable with you when you are on your feet. They can be worn 24/7. In fact, I sleep in my seamless Astra leggings!” she laughs.
It’s not by chance that IAmVibes has achieved a glowing global reputation, and that yoga-lovers as well as women who simply enjoy the modern cuts and deep comfort of her designs are very serious about the garments’ high-tech advantages. From the exceptionally soft and delicate BodyVibes fabric to the EcoVibes range made with suede-like ECONYL (regenerated nylon), which is both 100% eco-conscious and breathable on the skin, to the amazing seamless ASTRA range, which warms you when it’s cool and cools you when it’s hot because it’s made with a fabric with thousands of hollow microfibres that regulate body temperature.
Apart from keeping the environment as a top priority in her designs, Melemeti also considers the impact of labour that goes into making clothes and has made sure her business offers humanitarian standards to the women who work to make them. “During my travels, especially when visiting factories in my previous jobs, I saw how many women were employed in the production facilities; and travelling to some developing countries in Asia I witnessed harsh conditions that made me feel so powerless. I thought that perhaps getting involved in apparel, which is among the industry sectors that employ mostly women, was my way of contributing something valuable to women, by paying them a premium and making certain that their working conditions are ethical. I want to use my business to inspire and implement solutions to empower women around the world. I know I run a small business, but I’d like to think that even a small contribution can help support one woman somewhere in this world, and that can make a difference,” she says.
Her very modern, minimalist designs in shades of grey, black, blue with touches of colours like rust orange or white are neutral enough to combine with other parts of one’s daily wardrobe, and the Logo collection features the upside down Hamsa hand symbol. Very different from her other designs is the new range called Blossoming Lotus, which is a soft pink and is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness. Melemeni explains the vision behind this range: “We are trying to raise some funds dedicated to Breast Cancer research, so with this range, we’re providing a 10% discount to our customers and then 15% of the profits will be donated to research to foundations.”