Q&A with Matter Prints
I’ve been a longtime follower (and customer) of Matter Prints. Back when I did market research in the social enterprise industry, I stumbled upon their brand, loved that they worked directly with the experts who handloom garments, and a few days later I purchased a beautiful pair of chambray wrap pants. Since that day a few years ago, I’ve been following along while Matter has continued to grow and expand their collection.
So, what makes them so special?
- Based in Singapore, Matter is woman-owned – founded by Renyung Ho and Yvonne Suner – backed by a wonderful team of creatives, sourcing experts and artisan partners.
- They create handloomed garments with patterns handed down through generations of textile and blockprinting families in India and Indonesia.
- When you purchase from Matter, you also receive the provenance of the pattern on your garment. The meaning, tradition, and significance to the family who developed it.
I sat down with the Matter team to dig into their business and chat about all the good stuff: money, time, and outfit repeating.
How does working with traditional craft influence the way Matter Prints works as a business?
We believe that the cultural history of many nations lies in their textile heritage, and it is through the continuation of that narrative: in the prints and crafts of the artisan communities, that we pay tribute to their tradition.
For craft to thrive, we need to build a network of access to the market, providing products that, through good design, stand on their own two feet. Our artisan members develop heritage-based fabrics that form the raw material for our products; the garments are produced by a fair factory that holds fast to international compliance standards.
Working with distinctive prints is wonderful – but often people ask: “is it versatile enough to wear often, or will it be too distinctive?”
It’s an opinion that’s voiced often; the hesitance behind whether a piece will be too distinctive and memorable for them to wear repeatedly in their daily life. It’s one we’ve felt here at Matter with certain pieces in our wardrobes. We deny ourselves our favourite clothes because we’re concerned with judgement from others. When in actuality,
what would it look like if we began a long-term relationship with the clothing we owned?
Instead of buying one piece for a specific occasion, we could find joy in the permanence and timelessness of it. One of the prongs of slow fashion is to love what we already have, and maybe it looks like styling a piece differently, or maybe it just looks like loving it as is and wearing it as many times as you’d like to. Because, why not?
Talk about what makes the All-Day Jumpsuit special.
The Koya motif was created by Srinath, our master weaver who taught us about the intricate ropes of ikat. Named after the village he calls home, the Koya motif is our tribute to him and his story. The All Day Jumpsuit is also notoriously known as one of our more flexible designs because of its four button closure option, which also means it’s a jumpsuit that you can actually go to the bathroom in.
What would you say to someone who loves Matter Prints pieces, but may not be able to purchase one right now?
Traditional textile technique takes at least 40 days for a single pair of pants to be made, and about 4 months of when our initial designs and orders are placed for the pants to be completed.
The complexity of the technique, time, along with the decision to advocate for fair wages led to the intention behind our prices. We wrote a little more about this on our journal.
Sales give customers access to brands they otherwise couldn’t buy from before because of their budget, which is why we have two sales yearly:
At the start of the year, and during summer. We’ve always been transparent about their annual advent: they always last for 4 weeks, and we never extend it with further discounts.
The intention behind this is to encourage our community to take the time to think through their purchase, and see if they really need this item or if they’re buying it simply because the price is reduced.
A little about this post:
Matter asked me to try out the new colour in their All-Day Jumpsuit, and I said a big YES! That’s the style I’m pictured in. It’s gifted, but I’m a previous customer and all opinions are my own 🙂 Stay tuned for a second post where I’ll style the jumpsuit for all weather and do a full review!