Valuing Provenance

Classic textile stories with a twist of Southeast Asia as told by Matter

In 2009, on a sandy Mexican beach, at a new resort opening a friendship was formed between Yvonne Sūner and Renyung Ho. During the course of their journeys, they often spoke of shared values and passions. After numerous conversations, cross country adventures and coincidental connections, an idea came to life: Matter. 

Matter is a socially motivated business that was inspired by the type of travel the two women love, but much more. According to their press materials  Matter is a company “that is story driven, community based, built on direct relationships and a commitment to respecting provenance.” 

The core philosophy of provenance is based on products that possess both story and soul. Ho and Sūner believe that imperfection is beauty and that a better world is one where everyone is free to choose how to be, whether that's about where they work or what they wear. Their mission is to inspire consumers to value provenance. In other words to ask the where and why something is made; to champion alternative production models for textile artisans to expand their economic opportunities. 

The two partners believe that for rural craft to prosper, a network needs to be created to access markets and provide well-designed products. The company works with a hybrid supply chain model; their artisan members in India develop unique, tradition-based fabrics that form the limited edition raw material for their pants collections; the garments are produced and finished by a fair-trade factory that has expertise in garment construction and holds fast to international compliance standards. 

Working  with  artisan  communities  in Rajasthan,  Matter  employs time-honored techniques of the loom and blockprint  to develop unique fabrics and designs. Pants  incorporate  modern  tailoring for a beautiful drape and fit, and are available  in  breathable,  handloomed cotton or lightweight tussar silk that is machine-wash friendly.

The company’s first collection or edition are “Pants to see the World” that are inspired by traditional Asian silhouettes, like the dhoti and the harem, and the cropped wide leg. All three styles are updated for contemporary fashion tastes. Other designs include more modern designs such as hitched hikers, sailor shorts, and Sunday overalls.

In an interview with Cool Hunting Magazine, the founders said, “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 company has recently collaborated with the sisters Hani Dalduri and Aisah Dalduri founders of the textile studio Fictive Fingers based in Singapore to design a limited edition of scarves (100 pieces). The purpose behind the venture is to raise awareness of hand-made, slow-made craft and its place in the world. Each scarf is traditionally hand block printed in Rajasthan, Jaipur by Sakshi Foundation, finished with tassels, thread balls and embroidery by rural cooperative Rangsutra, and screen printed in Singapore by Fictive Fingers. In their recent newsletter Ho and Sūner wrote, “We chose words that spoke to each of us about the journey of this process, whittled down to five words or so that were then mixed and matched differently in haiku-like quotes and matched to the spirit of each print. Traditional and modern meet unexpectedly with the merging of block and screen, motif and meaning. Quotes are enigmatic and poignant, holding meaning in the mind of the beholder.” 

For more information, please visit www.matterprints.com.

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