In 1994 Harry Bleachman founded maharishi, with a great vision to create environmentally sound, fair-trade produced, long-lasting, high-quality, utilitarian clothing. The collections have always included the strong natural fibre hemp as well as organic cottons and upcycled military clothing. maharishi remains a privately owned company, and maintains a strong ethos of respect for nature while utilising the latest technology.
Avid collecting is where it all started for Blechman, his dad was an antique dealer, so it was only natural for him to have a knack for unearthing unwanted treasures from bequeathed estates around Britain. From rare stamp collections to coins, postcards to medals this gave Hardy the bug at the age of three. His passion evolved to record collecting, of course, then he tuned into military uniforms, and that's what he credits as the roots of Maharishi.
Long before The Beach spoilt Southeast Asia for everyone, Blechman took a gap year to that very place. There, he was inspired: by the culture, the clothing methods, the nature - and the London cult label maharishi came into being.
Blechman founded Maharishi - named after the Hindu word for guru - in the mid nineties, after time spent working in the army surplus trade. He soon became a cult name in the streetwear scene in London, a man known for a mystical outlook influenced by eastern culture. As one of the first British-born streetwear outfits, maharishi championed hip-hop garb with heart: pieces were environmentally sound, built-to-last and always produced with fair trade front of mind. This was long before the industry's current (and belated) efforts to create kinder clothing.
However it was the Snow pants that put Maha firmly on the streetwear zeitgeist map in the late '90s, it’s the camo and pacifist military orientation that clearly underpins the brand’s survival and evolution. The combat trousers – wide, worn low on the waist, and with a signature Chinese dragon on the back of the calf – became an ‘it item’ and celebrity favourite for almost a decade. Called snopants by the brand, in the US they were worn by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and in the UK, by girl band All Saints and Victoria Beckham. Largely responsible for bringing combats into fashion, Arena Homme Plus named them ‘the most copied pants of the decade.’ Blechman was named Streetwear Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in 2000.
maharishi went quiet in mid-2003. The appetite for camo dwindled.. The urban warriors had laid down their garms, so to speak. But as trends the streetwear of yesteryear takes centre stage, maharishi has - whether intentionally or otherwise - rode the wave. The urban warrior look that Blechman pioneered, and which dominated street wear a decade ago, is back again. This time however with a modern edge, pieces are cleaner, more restrained, and thus more likely to age far better.
Many of the key designers at London Collections: Men are showcasing variations on street wear, which arguably follows Blechman’s tradition of utility wear, with other designers basing their aesthetic on army issued clothing. But maharishi’s collection still does it better than the rest, with a reliably heavy on the military influence: combat trousers, camo prints, sleeping bag-like quilted jackets, blankets, balaclavas and map co-ordinates on sweatshirts. The Japanese influence could be found on the knits, which featured pagoda imagery, and the assortment of reworked obi belts. Any Maharishi aficionado would have recognised the show as distinctly on-brand. The return to the fashion spotlight was marked by a confident ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach.
Hardy is also obsessed by Sacred Geometry, of which one his favorite symbols is the Vesica Piscis - two circles overlapping in their centres, creating a third central shape, that of the human eye. It represents shared vision, mutual understanding, the place where people see ‘eye-to-eye.’ Thinking of everything, the brand also aims to convey a strong anti-war sentiment through its use of camouflage – reclaiming its symbolic value away from war, back to its roots in nature and development by artists and to highlight objections to continued 21st century warfare.
In a nutshell, the common man was turned on to elegance by the military uniform. The promise of nobility. A tailored suit that made you look noble. Think of Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman. Try on some Maharishi. You’ll see. Hardy knows his stuff about "noble streetwear." The brand still continues to stand by its principles of green and sustainable fashion and Bleachman, an intuitive designer who “gives” you this second skin, a sense that the garment was "meant to be on me." an unwavering sense of purpose to stamp a message on the collective consciousness.