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Eastern European nostalgia dressed up in sportswear | This is Commitment

Have you ever wondered what the link is between retro gymnastics, socialist-realist buildings, yoga asanas, and pattern design? According to the Polish sports and yoga brand, This is Commitment, the connection is in the beauty of order, or in the “beautiful order” as the designers call it.

Written by Lilla Gollob

The Warsaw-based brand was launched last year by Monika Kapłan and Kama Bojarczuk. Before this, they were both working for the Polish fashion chain Reserved, but they wanted to start something of their own—this is how the brand This is Commitment came to be, striving for sustainability and local manufacturing. The brand name refers to the founders’ dual commitment to yoga and fashion. They connect these two worlds that might seem distant at first according to the concept of yin and yang: in their interpretation, yoga symbolizes stability, while fashion represents cyclicality.

The designer duo’s goal is to shake up the market of yoga clothes and create high-quality, long-lasting pieces, which can be also worn outside of yoga studios and which are truly worth committing to. Their two existing collections blur the boundaries between the triad of exercise, homewear, and streetwear: the leggings, sports bras, knitted cardigans, and the asana-pictogram embellished silk scarfs can stand their ground in all three contexts. Their target audience is ageless and creative modern women who practice yoga.

Despite the brand’s freshness, it is undeniably imbued with nostalgia. This is no coincidence, as they primarily used the sports symbols of the former Eastern Bloc as a reference during the design process: They’ve adapted the object culture and atmosphere of Student Olympics, PE classes, rhythmic gymnastics, and sports parades, spiced up with a little humor. On their Instagram page, we can feast our eyes on retro mood photos and socialist-realist building details, which inspired them. Their main visual guideline is derived from this constrained aesthetic: “Whether we want it or not, this aesthetic discipline is rooted in us. We have tamed and named it,” the designers said.

The mood created by the striking colors, shapes, and lines automatically takes us back to the past. “I have strong memories from my childhood when we practiced gymnastics at school and we all had the same sports uniforms. I like the rhythm and simplicity of those garments,” Monika told us. Their collections carry the scent of retro, plywood-walled school gyms, and the memory of obligatory gym lineups and repetitive PE exercises.

“Yoga is usually presented as a traditional sequence of asanas and our intention was to do something totally different. When writing our brand strategy, I found a lot of retro pictures of all sorts of gymnastic sports from the ’30s, ’60s and ’70s. I thought we could recreate a similar mood, ” Monika added. The series of photos and videos entitled Gymnastics Classes in collaboration with the dancers of the Polish National Ballet was also born from this concept. During this project, yoga, ballet, and gymnastics were brought together in an old Polish school gym. They might be different, but the essence of each of them lies in rhythm and repetition—the beauty of order, if you like.

Photos: Magda Wunsche & Aga Samsel

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