Chances are you're not sure where the top or pants you are currently wearing was made—or who (or what) made it. Matter is a new socially motivated business that wants to change all that by documenting every step of their attire's journey; from being dyed and woodblock-printed in Jaipur, stitched and finished in New Delhi and woven in Bihar on hand-looms. There's a story behind each type of print, each weave and of course, the carvers, printers, weavers and other craftspeople—many of whom are working from rural homes, rather than a centralized factory, thanks to Matter's India-based social enterprise production partner.
Founders Renyung Ho and Yvonne Suñer are based in Singapore and Shanghai respectively, and their team extends worldwide—they see the distance as a learning experience rather than an obstacle. "That's part of what we love—working across cultures and the mutual learning in that," they tell CH. The two both have backgrounds in the hospitality industry, and met while working on a resort opening in Mexico. They discovered that they shared a passion for traveling and exploration, and started Matter in order to connect the dots between makers and wearers. "We're working with two communities in Rajasthan, India; one is a fourth generation block-printing workshop in Jaipur and the other is a cooperative based out of Bikaner with over 3000 artisans. We're planning to expand to other areas in Asia like the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. There's an incredible wealth of cultural heritage and beauty in the fabrics here, and after this first run we're more knowledgeable on what we look for in a production partner."
The duo has designed pants for women who (like themselves) are frequently traveling, which means focus on easy fit and easy care. The designs shy away from zippers and opt for adjustable closures like buttons, wraps and fabric belts—thanks to this customizable flexibility, the pants only come in two sizes. It's also important to the designers that the pants be machine washable and not require dry cleaning. The three different styles of pants—the Classic Wideleg, Reworked Harem and Sideswept Dhoti—are inspired by traditional Asian styles like the Vietnamese "ao dai" and strike a perfect balance between casual and functional.
Although Matter has just debuted their first collection, the pair reveal what's next: "We've had a surprising number of enquiries from men pleading with us to provide them alternatives to their jeans, Bermudas and board shorts. We believe very much in excelling at one thing before moving into the next and so we will be focusing on pants for now. There's a lot of room still to play in the pants department."
Pants range from $84 to $129 and shipping is free, no matter what continent you live in. Visit Matter's online shop to peruse their debut collection.
Images courtesy of Matter