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Melissa Chu of RUMI X

The eco-athleisure entrepreneur on reducing, reusing and recycling waste for the good of our planet.

While doing sun salutations, Melissa Chu was hit with an epiphany — not of her personal life and private thoughts — but of the clothes she was wearing at that very moment. Reflecting on the sustainability of her yoga kit then led to Melissa’s desire to “develop something that spoke to the devotion of [her] practice…while simultaneously ensuring that [her brand’s] products were environmentally impactful and contributing to the solution.” Turning waste into wear, the result was RUMI X.

Using a combination of plastic bottles and coffee grounds — where the former is shredded, melted and spun into polyester, and the latter is washed, dried and prepared to be mixed into the polyester to produce a yarn — the resulting materials are everything you could want from workout clothes.

Abiding by quality standards and a brand ethos called ‘Rumies Promise’, the colourful fabrics are just as breathable, sweat-wicking and stretchy as activewear made from virgin materials. And that’s not all. Next up is a plan to convert crab shells into a super-soft material called Crabyon. We didn’t think of it ourselves as a plausible resource, but it’s inspiring stuff.

Granted, some consumers still place brand names above brand practices. But Melissa believes that it’s just a matter of time before education and awareness of — as well as a thriving market for — sustainable fashion are par for the course. And we believe so, too.

“The world is ready for companies to make a difference while creating something beautiful.”

RUMI X was born from your desire to make yoga gear more sustainable. What’s the story behind this?

RUMI X was born from my passions of wellness, mindfulness and female empowerment. I wanted to develop something that made a positive contribution to our planet, and to create an awareness for mindful consumption.

What has the response been to RUMI X’s use of sustainable fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles and upcycled coffee grounds?

We have received positive responses from around the world. Some people love that our product is helping our environment, and some are very curious as to how the products are made from plastic bottles and coffee grounds! The world is ready for companies to make a difference while creating something beautiful.

You will soon be launching a collection made from discarded crab shells. How did you come to learn of its potential as a material, and how will it be different from any other material out there?

We learnt about this fabric by working closely with our suppliers. They have been introducing us to new technologies and fabrics which are innovating in the textile space. It’s different in that we haven’t seen anyone else in the space utilising this fabric, especially in sportswear.

In terms of durability, wearability, breathability and performance, what are the key differences between activewear that’s manufactured from recycled materials versus traditional materials?

It’s actually the same in durability, wearability, breathability and overall performance. For most traditional activewear, the fabric is polyester. Our fabric is made of 100 per cent recycled polyester so it has the same performance as virgin polyester — only it’s more environmentally friendly.

How is using water-based ink to dye RUMI X’s pieces
better for the environment?

It doesn’t leave the production facility with hazardous
waste in the process as compared to other dyes.

Besides RUMI X, what is another go-to activewear brand,
and what do you love about its pieces?

I only wear RUMI X! But I do love Spiritual Gangster for
their street and inspirational designs.

“Our fabric is made of 100 per cent recycled polyester so it has the same performance as virgin polyester — only it’s environmentally friendly.”

Tell us about your beauty regime.

I typically use a combination of essential oils and at home ingredients for my skincare regime of facial cleansers (coconut oil), toners (apple cider vinegar mixed with water) scrubs (probiotics pills and olive oil, or oatmeal and yogurt), masks (honey and avocado), and moisturisers (apricot seed oil, rose and geranium oil). I try to mix everything at home in small batches so I also save on packaging. None of those pesky harsh chemicals touch my skin!

For makeup, I like RMS Beauty because it’s a green beauty product line made of organic food grade ingredients.

How do you incorporate exercise into your everyday routine, and how has it helped your overall wellbeing?

I start my day off with meditation for at least 15 minutes. It’s exercise for the mind! I’ll alternate during the week with a morning yoga session before work or break up my day with a Pilates or kickboxing class during my lunch hour. Once a week, I’ll wind down with a nice yin/restorative yoga class in the evening. On the weekends, I always aim to get out in nature and do a hike with my dog or go to the beach and play fetch with him.

Fill in the blanks: My one wish for the activewear industry is _________________.

For it to be about feeling good, and about empowering women of all shapes and sizes!

What does conscious living mean to you?

Conscious living is living a life of conscious action, awareness and being present. Many of us are disconnected from our own lives, thinking about the past, worrying about the future and just being anxious or depressed. Conscious living is about preventing yourself from drifting, taking control of your life and your thoughts, and creating the life you want instead of settling for one that falls on us. Be the change you want to see!

Rumi X for Apres Avant

The Light to Love Leggings and Mirror Sports Bra are classic RUMI X pieces, thanks to its bold print

Images courtesy of RUMI X