If you haven’t heard of Phat Buddha yoga clothing, you’ve probably unknowingly spotted its color-popping shorts or basket-weave patterned sports bras on the glossy page of a magazine.
That’s because the brand’s business savvy creator, Alissa Benishai, outfits some of the fitness and yoga world’s biggest celebs in her funky, fashion-forward activewear—from Tracy Anderson to Lady Gaga’s yoga teacher Tricia Donegan.
Benishai was born into fashion. Her mother imported international swimwear, so as a child, she watched models pose at photo shoots and walk Bryant Park runways. At 16, she began working at W Magazine, where she helped style celebs. “The Devil Wears Prada was actually my job,” she jokes.
She then worked in real estate development until she fell in love with Bikram yoga, did a teacher training in Hawaii, and moved back to NYC just as Lululemon came onto the scene.
After getting stuck in an inflexible tank top in Lulu’s Upper West Side fitting room, a light bulb went off. Benishai decided to apply her high-level fashion know-how to fitness wear.
Phat Buddha was born—a line made of soft, seamless pieces that come in one-size-fits-most, “so the clothes mold to the shape of any body,” says Benishai. (We’ve found this mostly works, although it’s not perfect—tall gals may show some midriff, and bra support is minimal.) The colors and patterns are bold yet chic, just like New Yorkers.
To promote the line, Benishai called on her many connections in the yoga and fashion worlds, and it wasn’t long before she was meeting weekly with Bikram’s Donegan to suit her in the line’s newest styles.
When the phone rang and it was Tracy Anderson, calling from a Maxim shoot asking for Phat Buddha, Benishai was ready. “I literally got there in five minutes,” she says. “Now, she wears my stuff religiously.”
Benishai also occasionally styles celeb yogi Kristin McGee. She outfitted star personal trainer and Powerstrike founder Ilaria Montagnani (and her team) for her latest DVD, and she regularly adorns fitness models in Phat Buddha for editorial shoots.
Oh, and regular yogis can wear (and afford!) the clothes, too. The line is currently sold in boutiques at Equinox, Pure Yoga, Exhale, and Bikram studios throughout New York. Tops range from $30–$40, bottoms are $35–$50.
It sure does make rocking the clothes a tad easier for the non-celeb budget. —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information and to shop the latest collection, visit phatbuddhawear.com