Buddha Style: Do Spirituality and Style Have to be Mutually Exclusive?

zen dress

Could embracing a spiritual approach to style motivate consumers to choose more sustainable fashion?

The fashion industry is fascinating. On one hand you have businesses that create obsolescence and insecurity, and on the other, products that offer tremendous potential as a creative process to make people feel more secure by expressing who they are, or who they’d like to be. And from Oprah to Deepak, yoga classes and meditation seminars, this country clearly has a rapidly growing taste for all things spiritual.

Truth, fairness, interconnectedness and non-violence are values found in all major spiritual paths, and, if you think about it, they’re also embroidered in the sustainable fashion movement. As a writer and environmentalist fascinated with what motivates humans and keenly curious about how to inspire more environmentally-friendly consumer behaviors, I wonder if the trend for turning within could make greater inroads with how we choose clothing, jewelry and accessories than green activism ever managed.

When I came across Buddha Style: A discussion about the Buddha’s radical teachings on fashion and forgiveness, a recently released book about approaching fashion from a Buddhist perspective, I was intrigued.


With its punk-rock illustrations by award-winning sculptor and installation artist Jesse Bercowetz, the book is an engaging and easy-to-follow perspective on both Buddhism and the fashion industry. One purchase (just one more) that might bring some peace for those of us who struggle with our fashion appetites. Recording a discussion between Otto von Busch, a fashion scholar at Parsons the New School for Design in New York, and Josh Korda, a Buddhist teacher at New York Dharma Punx, the small tome speaks to how we can reconcile our relationship to consumerism and begin to live more skillfully with fashion:

We are aversive to pain. We are restless. We are craving for pleasure. And we all want more. It is easy today to look to fashion for salvation. We feel fashion can give us what we need. We can be beautiful. We can be seen. We can be popular. We can become our better self. And it is so accessible. It is everywhere.

Can there be any liberation?

Image: seyed mostafa zamani

Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.