LOS ANGELES — It’s easy to dismiss yogi Jodi Guber’s soul-searching as a luxury indulged by a Gen-Xer reared in a gilded lifestyle.
This story first appeared in the August 21, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After all, the co-designer of the new Beyond Yoga by Fila line is philosophizing (and sitting cross-legged) on the tranquil, bamboo-dotted grounds of the yoga studio she opened last year on her parents’ property in upper-crust Bel-Air. But, the daughter of producer Peter Guber and yogi Tara Lynda said her decade-long quest for fulfillment was the same as those sought by other discontented souls — to a degree.
“I had it [the glam Hollywood lifestyle] and I was able to walk away from it because I had a choice,” she admits. “But, this had nothing to do with my parents. I funded this all on my own.”
Three years ago, Jodi Guber, 35, traded in the frenzy of a Hollywood agency for the serenity of a yoga practitioner of the vigorous Vinyasa Anusara style. It’s a move that smacks against the excesses of her father and Jon Peters, who gained infamy as co-chairs of Sony from 1989 to 1994..
But the silver screen didn’t go entirely black in her world.
Her experience as an agent at the William Morris Agency in the Nineties for Vivica Fox, Elias Koteas and Stephen Tobolowsky led to contacts and now friends for her yoga business, such as Lisa Rinna and Gina Gershon. Then, her stint in fashion publicity with friend Shannon Meehan Hill at Beyond PR (which counted Chanel and Escada as clients, and merged this summer with Harrison-Shriftman) added more names to her Rolodex.
And her studies with three hallowed community yogis, including John Friend, Seane Corn and Rod Stryker, and subsequent teaching at City Yoga here and Black Dog Yoga in Sherman Oaks, Calif., have given her access to the fitness activity’s influencers. Guber’s résumé was one Fila couldn’t ignore.
Following its $351 million purchase of the brand’s worldwide subsidiaries from Fila Holding SpA in June, Sports Brands International is building on the success of Fila’s style-conscious apparel. Cozying up to Hollywood is also on the agenda, said Mark Westerman, Fila’s vice president of marketing.
“We’re a sportswear brand where fashion trends are driven by athletes and celebrities,” Westerman said. “We know we wouldn’t have gotten the line off the ground so quickly without Jodi. We benefit tremendously from her influence in Hollywood and expertise on the product.”
Guber’s celeb chums, Elizabeth Berkley and Heather Graham, have viewed the line and Rinna already picked it up for her three-month-old store, Belle Gray, in Sherman Oaks. Beyond Yoga, which wholesales from $35 to $60, launches at MAGIC International Monday and ships to stores in December.
Expected to bring in less than $1 million in first-year sales, the six-piece collection consists of a ribbed tank, a long-sleeve T-shirt, a camisole top, boot-cut pants and a fleece jacket. What gives the product its appealing hand is the use of Supplex, a cotton-Lycra spandex blend that is not supposed to shrink, fade or wrinkle. Beyond Yoga’s strength is in its simplicity, according to Freya Tamayo, Fila’s design director.
“It’s about beauty, not pretension,” she said. Hints of fashion detail are in the bell sleeves and raw-edge seams of the crewneck shirt, the flare of the pants and the floral lotus logo. Providing comfort and function are also essentials, Tamayo said. That means a lack of binding seams and using the same fabric to line the bra for the tops, which also won’t gape when a student bends for “downward dog.”
Guber prefers the line’s clean looks of solid colors such as nirvana blue, Buddha green and raja purple, but is open to experimenting with prints. Also seeking transcendence are men, said Guber, who’s fielding requests for a male clothing line.
Rinna, an eight-year devotee of yoga, said she wanted to support the endeavors of her longtime friend.
“I like her sense and sensibility on the line,” she said. “It’s clean and the fabric is great. I wouldn’t buy a line from someone who didn’t do yoga.”
As yoga becomes the staple du jour among athletic brands, firms earning plaudits are those with yogis at or near the helm. Puma has a joint venture with model and devout practitioner Christy Turlington for the Nuala yoga line, and The Weekend Exercise Co. is partnering with yogini Shiva Rea for the Shiva Shakti by Marika line.
Despite the flood of new yoga players, industry observers say there’s still room for growth.
“It’s not step aerobics,” Guber declared. “Exercise is for the body, and yoga is for lifestyle.”
She shares that lifestyle with her parents, teaching them twice a week.
And, in between designing and her other dozen or so classes (private sessions cost up to $150), Guber’s life is a social whirl, thanks to lots of dating. On those special occasions, she wears Seven jeans and Jimmy Choos.