MATTER is a conscious company that offers more affordable ethical luxury with thoughtful design and provenance. This is a social brand under the umbrella of Banyan Tree Gallery, a 20-year old community retailer that works globally with artisan crafts in basketry, ceramics, lacquerware, and other homeware. MATTER’s mission is to “foster designer-artisan collaborations, inspire consumers to value provenance and process, and pioneer industry change and sustainability for rural textile communities”. By topping alternative production models for textile artisans and expanding their economic opportunities, MATTER wants to inspire its consumers to value provenance and encourage them to question where and how their garments are made.
MATTER’s ambition is to “mainstream textile artisanship, connecting artisans and designers to become a collective that showcases the results of those collaborations”. Its artisan members develop beautiful and unique heritage-based fabrics that form the limited edition raw material for their collection. All of MATTER’s products are produced and finished by garment construction experts in a fair factory that holds international compliance standards. Its supply chain partners are chosen through a set criteria with an emphasis on fair business practice, community integration, and product integrity. According to MATTER, the company visits each partner personally and focuses on building a strong and long-term relationship for better market access. On its website, you can find information on which partners they work with and for what purpose.
The design-to-product journey for each product style takes approximately 6 months. All of the prints come from existing heritage motifs which are tied to a place and time and come along with their own cultural stories. MATTER’s aim is then to re-tell and translate those stories in ways that resonate with consumers. Working in collaboration with artisans also extends the sampling process as the final print is a result from feedback and design input. MATTER takes into account the natural cycle of printing, weaving, and factors such as weather, local holidays, and harvest cycles.
Their products come in the following fabric forms:
Blockprint: This method was created in China around 220 A.D. as a way to record history. In the early days, blocks were cut from wood and used to print textiles, but later blockprinting was used to reproduce short Buddhist religious texts that were carried as charms. Today, this technique can be found in East and Central Asia, as well as in India, Egypt and Europe.
Ikat: This practice can be found in places from Guatemala to Okinawa. This is a globally dispersed artisanal craft that involves a “tie and dye” technique where the yarns are resist dyed in order to achieve the final weaving pattern. The pattern only emerges when all of the yarns are woven together.
Jamdani: This craft, considered the most artistic and finest of Bengali craftsmanship, was brought to India by Mughals during their rule. MATTER describes the process as follows: “each thread of every motif is hand woven into the finest muslin on the loom. The weaving process is done wherein small shuttles of threads are passed through the weft. Two weavers sit alongside each other at the loom and add every discontinuous supplementary weft motif separately, by hand, interlacing the supplementary weft threads into the warp with fine bamboo sticks in a zigzag manner using individual spools of thread. “
Chambray: This is a double ply close weave, very similar looking to the classic denim fabric. The name of this type of fabric originated from north France where it was originally woven as workwear for farmers in 1595. It is typical for this fabric to be woven in blue.
These classic wide leg pants by MATTER are made from 100% organic cotton twill and have been hand-printed and dyed with 100% Azo-free dyes (Azo is a synthetic dye). It has been inspired by the elegance of the Vietnamese ao dai (a national costume) and features the IChing print in a warm sandstone colour. The Iching print symbolises “Fire and Water, two elements that oppose and balance each-other”.
With the wide-leg trend this Spring/Summer, I have been seeing people all over (both on the street and on social media) wearing similar pants and hoping that I would come across a pair that is ethically made. I was happy to discover these pants by MATTER, absolutely loving the colour and print combination. At the same time, I was slightly concerned that they wouldn’t fit properly, as being 5’2″ usually means that most pants are very long on my short legs! I was pleasantly surprised to see that they looked flattering on my petit but curvy body and sit almost perfectly! (They are supposed to be cropped just above the ankle but sit slightly on my ankles). I would highly recommend these pants to women of all heights, even us shorties! Have I also mentioned how extremely comfortable they are!? You can purchase these stunning and relaxed pants HERE.
These photos have been taken in a flower field next to Cutteslowe Park in Oxford.