MATTER Prints seems to embody everything I champion here on The Peahen: slow production, quality craftsmanship and, arguably the most important thing, provenance.
In practice, these core philosophies mean MATTER values the communities it works within, and not just at the surface level. It focuses on reviving traditional designs and adapting them for the global marketplace – and its global travelers.
Rather than boxing its partners into a rigid western production model that champions speed and consumer appetite above all; MATTER takes a hybrid approach to collaboration.
This is no easy feat. It means the brand manages more nuances in its production process – carefully considering things like local serendipities of weather, celebratory customs, and harvest cycles – and tempering them with the demands of the modern consumer.
The resulting designs bridge the gap between rural artisanship and urban tastes, which, in my eyes at least, helps to bring harmony to the global fashion system.
This, my friends, is how ethical fashion goes mainstream.
Recently, I connected with Devonne Niam, MATTER’s ‘Digital Marketing Maven’ to get the full story, review one of their signature jumpsuits (because hey, it’s still warm), and give you a closer look at this contemporary ethical brand.
Snapshot: Why MATTER, Matters
- Founded 2014 after friends – and now husband and wife duo, Yvonne and Ren – traveled to India and started to build a thriving network of artisan collaborators.
- Established on the idea of making connected clothes that revive heritage printmaking.
- Determined to know the details of its supply chain and to revive slower fashion production standards.
- Committed to breaking the hippie stigma of artisan fashion with fresh design.
- Inspired by the idea of creating travel-ready garments fit to see the world in.
When I started previewing the collection I wanted to pick a piece that embodied MATTER’s ethos – it had to be super versatile and contemporary. I settled on The Classic Jumpsuit in the brand’s interpretation of an ikat print and MATTER sent it as part of this review.
There were also lounge pants in boundary-pushing shapes, airy scarves, gauzy blouses, and off-cut accessories – each rendered in statement prints – to chose from; but the jumpsuit stood out for a few reasons:
- I’ve been desperately searching for an effortless one-piece to thrown on for light-outdoor activities (to be an Austinite is to live outdoors).
- I’m oversatiated on athleisure (there’s only so much strappy-back sameness I can stomach).
- I needed something transitional that could carry me from productive waking-hours into a social setting without a rushed outfit change in between (must.find.other.heel. 10 minutes until wine prices inflate like Trump’s ego after a twitter war).
- I wanted something packable and light for an upcoming trip to Costa Rica (more on that soon).
I had a blast shooting this review a few weeks back with my photo partner in crime, Magdalena of Selva Beat.
The best part about this jumpsuit, hands down, is that it feels like I’m wearing nothing at all. Normally if something is this lightweight and gauzy (it’s comparable to linen pants) there’s a catch. I kept thinking it had to be see-through somewhere. Or maybe it was too delicate and would snag?
But nope. You can traipse around totally carefree, enjoying your newfound semi-nudity in this thing! So awesome. And because it’s not see-through, you don’t need special undergarments. Heck, you could even go without them if that’s how you roll. I won’t tell.
Other unfussy bonuses? The texture of the cotton is soft and it has a pre-worn in look. Right before the shoot I hand steamed it, but this wouldn’t be necessary for everyday wear. In fact, it looks even better with some worn-in creases and wrinkles.
It’s also easy to care for and clean because it’s 100% cotton. It gets added environmental and budget points because you can wear it a few times without washing (see my post on home care for tips to maintain your garment between washes).
It’s the right amount of playful.
The Classic Jumpsuit shows just enough skin. I especially like the emphasis on the back because it feels classier. Trust me, you don’t want to look at pictures from a big trip a few years from now and get an eyeful of cleavage and a mind full of regret.
An open back is interesting and also helps keep you cool (I’m talking temp here, but it’s also street cool). Plus, it is a jumpsuit after all. And jumpsuits are supposed to have a sense of humor about them, not exude sex appeal. MATTER nailed this style nuance.
It’s not your basic ikat.
Prints are MATTER’s bread and butter. On a quest to honor provenance above all, the brand sources patterns that run deep within their partners’ heritage. Then, they work with them to refine the motifs during the design and sampling process.
The final result is an archive of over 30 distinct prints based on four craft techniques – blockprint, ikat, jamdani and handloom.
It surprised me to learn my jumpsuit was ikat because I usually don’t wear it. Ikat is typically busy and oversaturated with color. If you need a baseline for comparison, I’d classify it as one step below tie-dye on the not-so-subtle scale. But the print that MATTER created for this jumpsuit is so much more refined.
At first glance, I thought the tiny blue arrows were stitched onto the jumpsuit, but they’re actually a product of the ikat dye technique. To be specific, it’s called the Zalya print and it’s part MATTER’s ‘All For One’ motifs that revive lost stories from their partners’ archives. The Zalya arrow represents the brave and is one of five distinct patterns in the series.
The other prints and techniques are catalogued in detail along with compelling videos. So go ahead, learn a thing or two about blockprinting. Watch them here.
It’s detail oriented.
This jumpsuit comes in two sizes, but the details deliver more flexibility than meets the eye. Discreet fabric buttons at the hip and back give you options for adjustment and allow the garment to be styled different ways for different days. The belt also adds another layer of customization.
In my case, I have to use the smaller hip button to keep the jumpsuit up (I’m about a size 2 for reference) but the back buttons give me styling options. By adjusting them, I can either wear the jumpsuit fitted for a sleeker look or looser for a laid-back look. From the photos, you may be concerned about wearing a conventional bra, but don’t fret. The back closure just covered mine.
The only drawback about this garment is that while it’s timeless; it’s not seasonless. Meaning you probably can’t wear it all year. The shape and color make it more of a spring/summer piece depending on your weather. In Austin, for instance, I can get away with it now as a transitional fall piece.
So unless you’re traveling somewhere warm during the winter, it may sit stagnant in your closet for a while. If you want something to wear throughout the year, the classic travel pants may be a better option.
Transparency rocks – This post was sponsored by Matter. That means the jumpsuit was gifted and I was compensated for my time writing, editing and shooting. The review is still 100% my own candid opinion. I do the homework so you can shop informed.
Photos: Magdalena Antuña, Selva Beat Magazine
Sandals: Jerusalem Sandals
Bracelet – Soko
Earrings: similar styles from ARO
Backpack: Madewell (old)