Designs With Story & Soul
MATTER is a socially-motivated lifestyle brand connecting communities to opportunity and creating garments and accessories for the everyday. Their clothing is designed with story and soul, as they incorporate traditional printing, weaving and dyeing techniques into their modern styles.
seasonless, sustainable & artisanal
MATTER's mission is to impact change beyond textiles - to make rural artisan production sustainable, shift designers' approach to their process, and inspire customers to ask where and why something is made. They foster long-term collaborations and partnerships between designers and artisans to ensure that each piece celebrates the heritage and culture of its makers.
They are also dedicated to environmental sustainability. They start with a zero-waste design approach (crafting items in small batches and using fabric scraps to create children's garments), and craft their products from natural materials colored with AZO-free dyes.
This summer, MATTER has launched their first line of dresses in addition to their pants, jumpsuits, scarves, tops and wraps. Their versatile dresses boast an asymmetrical hemline and are made from breathable, 100% natural cotton fabric - perfect for either a summer day or an evening out.
MATTER is dedicated to inspiring customers to ask where and why something is made.
Behind The Scenes With The Co-Founder
We recently spoke with MATTER's Co-Founder, Renyung Ho about the intention behind their designs, what motivated her to start a social impact brand, and what's on the horizon for MATTER.
Who are your collections designed with in mind?
We design in inspiration of the adventurous and free-spirited; those who go about their everyday travels in confidence. They are men and women in control, yet are slightly rebellious, always embarking on a new adventure and living their lives their own way.
Therefore, our collections are all designed for the everyday, consisting of pieces which are highly versatile, have flexible closures, and are zip-free for durability. Being easily adjustable to the body and situation, they reflect the adaptability and the freedom of those we fit.
What inspires the brand’s love for travel and globally influenced designs?
The thing I love about travel is that it brings people together, through shared experiences and stories. MATTER started out as an idea with two people who loved traveling. I met my co-founder, Yvonne Suner, when we were both working in Mexico. Travel has always been a great part in our lives - it's how we met and become friends. We had multiple conversations about merging our love for travel and creating positive impact in the communities we discovered, and would often seek out unique textiles in places we visited. The colors, stories and significance behind the patterns always inspired us, as well as meeting the people who created these fabrics.
So it was natural that MATTER was about returning to the basics of what connects us all globally, what unites us as humans - our stories, crafts and values. There is something important to learn from everyone everywhere. When we unite ourselves across cultures, we can then start to appreciate and respect both the differences and similarities amongst us.
How did your work in sociology inspire you to start a social impact lifestyle brand?
When I was studying sociology in the UK, I took classes in civil society, economic development and philosophy, leading me to do a thesis on social entrepreneurship. It was a rising tide then, and working there certainly inspired me. Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems and creating value - what better vehicle was there for targeting social issues?
Another experience that later stood out to me was meeting two hilltribe girls selling embroidered bookmarks in Sapa Valley, Chiangmai. Their mother had taught them how, and they were selling that to fund their education. That moved me. To work the beautiful language of textiles and celebrate that shared cultural heritage, while creating ways for which it may continue to be passed down from generation to generation, is a mission that I am fully dedicated to.
These showed me the impact of combining purpose and profit in a meaningful way, and strengthened my simple belief that the world would be a better place if people asked where and why something is made, and by whom. This eventually became MATTER’s core philosophy.
"The world would be a better place if people asked where and why something is made, and by whom."
- Renyung Ho
What is on the horizon for MATTER?
We have only been around for three years, and we are still taking baby steps. I see MATTER as providing a transformative customer experience. We connect customers to the places where our clothes are made, and the people who make it, through our online stories and offline events. With that information, they are equipped to make better purchasing choices. This type of transformative experience can be extended to any industry. With more collaborations, I also see MATTER as a vehicle that inspires designers and corporations to shift their approach to processes.
I also see more expansion and greater growth in apparel, homeware and even a hospitality experience. Fundamentally, MATTER started with the goal to make craft sustainable. Right now, our impact is entirely on the supply chain - in terms of the number of employment hours for our artisans. I would do more capacity building - that means training a new generation of artisans, R&D innovation in traditional artisan processes, and a fund offering loans and grants to help build their businesses.
Do you have a personal favorite piece for travel?
MATTER pants definitely. But I love all of them equally.