Rachel Raab’s Buddha Pants are giving wearers the freedom to move as they please, from the yoga mat to the beach and beyond.
Rachel Raab manufactured the unisex pants, available in solids and wild prints, from Burberry-inspired plaid to rose-pink zigzag and tribal patterns ($80), to be both cool and comfortable.
Like many modern-day headline-makers, Rachel Raab’s success story began in a college dorm. The founder and creative director of Buddha Pants, a Miami-area company that’s rethinking the ever-popular harem pants, knew her roommate at the Savannah College of Art and Design was onto something when she started making what would soon be the first Buddha Pant prototype. “I commissioned her to make me 15 to 30 pairs in college, because I just loved the pant, but I could not find them anywhere,” says Raab.
After graduating, a move to Miami provided Raab the opportunity and inspiration to seriously launch the company. She quickly ramped up production and began visiting trade shows, like Wanderlust Yoga Festival and Om Festival, around the globe, where customers responded well to the pants’ versatile nature and forgiving fit. “A lot of women don’t feel comfortable wearing leggings,” says Raab. The style’s wide leg, draping, and elastic hem “really gives people their own space and comfort on their mat or wherever they may be.”
Now, close to two years later, Raab’s business has blossomed into multiple unisex styles: the original Buddha (in a thick organic cotton), the Savannah (a smaller drop in a breezy, super-soft cotton), and baby Buddhas, a children’s version of the Savannah. “I got inspired by the ENO [camping] hammock—it folds up and packs into itself,” Raab explains of the pants’ ability to fold into their own pocket. “We made it happen, and people love it. It turns into a little yoga pillow. You can travel with it—you don’t even have to pack it. You can tie it onto your bag, tie it off of your suitcase, hang it off of your bike bar—it’s really versatile.”
Today, Raab is her own best billboard. “We haven’t exposed the pant too much in Miami, other than me personally wearing them. We did the Miami Reggae Festival last year and sold, like, 100 pants in a day.”
Long-term plans include setting up a hybrid storefront headquarters near her Little Haiti warehouse (completely self-sustainable and made out of shipping containers conceptualized in tandem with local designer Marcos Delgado) as well as introducing new designs, materials, and limited-edition prints.
For Raab, though, it’s the small victories that define her achievement. One stand-out customer credited the “lifechanging” pants with giving her the newfound confidence she needed to reinvent her life and live in alignment with her truest self. To Raab, that “is success, to give this feeling to people, to make a change in their life.”