Hong Kong Based RUMI X Founder Melissa Chu Talks About Her Vision For Eco Athleisure

RUMI X is a local activewear brand with a seriously eco ethos. It’s hard to miss their fun, colorful prints on chic gym-goers around town and it’s even harder to believe that the brand’s clothing is made from upcycled waste! We talk to founder and wellpreneur Melissa Chu about building a brand she can stand behind.

What is your background?

I’m originally from the Bay Area in California. I relocated to Hong Kong five years ago for a corporate job. I left that job in 2013, and the following year, I decided to go to India to become a certified yoga instructor.

How did RUMI X come about?

I started to think about the concept in 2013: I wanted to do something that would align my passion for fitness with a healthy lifestyle. And that’s how Rumi Yoga Wear came to be. I decided to change the name to RUMI X in 2016 because I didn’t want to limit the brand to only yoga, I wanted to be able to extend it to all sorts of sports like CrossFit, running, kickboxing and more.

What makes RUMI X so different from other activewear brands?

All the materials that we work with to make our RUMI clothing comes from reusable materials, so we are actually transforming waste into a wearable product. Our bottoms are made from upcycled plastic water bottles and our tops are made from used coffee grounds.

Why eco-friendly materials? 

I wanted my brand to definitely have a positive impact on our planet from the very beginning. I know how much waste there is out there. We collectively consume so many of the earth’s resources on a daily basis. Since we already have the necessary technology to change waste to something useful, why not utilize it?

Do you think sustainable fashion can be affordable?

At this moment,  sustainable clothing is on the pricier side of what’s available on the market,  because there is limited demand for it. It’s still very niche. But consumers are becoming more aware of their buying choices and I see more and more brands switching to sustainable materials for their lines, so sustainable-made clothes are slowly becoming more affordable.

In light of the recent media upheaval on the unethical labor practices of fast fashion brands like Gap and H&M, how can people make more ethical fashion choices?

The key to making more ethical fashion choices is to be aware of what’s going on in the industry and to not take anything as face value. What I strive for through RUMI X is to be straight-up and honest with our customers when they purchase our RUMI X products. I want to help increase their consciousness towards making ethical and environmental choices.

What do you think explains the recent athleisure boom in Hong Kong and across the world?

More and more people are getting into the healthy lifestyle movement. From sipping on smoothies to doing CrossFit, I see a lot of people trying to strive for a work-life balance, especially in Hong Kong. The growth of athleisure definitely stems from there. Wearing RUMI clothing allows you to look sleek and stylish but still feel comfortable.

How do you stay grounded?

One tip I definitely live by is taking the time to slow down and zone out from the fast-moving Hong Kong lifestyle. What I usually do when I feel a little burnt out is go on a hike with my dog and just really take in the nature outside of the city centre. For comfort eating, I love Sichuan food and highly recommend Yu’s noodle shop right behind Times Square. I also like to visit our local wet markets from time to time as they have the best selections of fresh fruits and vegetables.


Lead image from RUMI X.