Conscious Buy: MATTER’s new organic cotton & crepe silk range

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MATTER’s new organic cotton pants feel satisfyingly structured – pictured here in block-printed Leharia print, inspired by waves crashing against the shore.

I’ve always felt very connected to what socially-motivated brand MATTER stands for: showcasing textile artisanal work, fostering designer-artisan collaborations, and storytelling to inspire consumers to think more about their connection to the clothes they wear.

The label has also done an awesome job over the last few years of building a community of individuals in Singapore and beyond who hold similar values of appreciating provenance and ethical production. This has taken time, a lot of effort and a good dose of persistence, coupled with the additional challenge of being a label existing in an Asian market where fast-fashion and a penchant for international, designer brands is pretty much the norm.

A big milestone win for the MATTER team this year has been launching their first range produced in organic cotton. I’ve heard founder Ren speak before at an event about supply chain difficulties, and describing why they chose to focus on ethical production first over sustainable materials. A simple explanation from her on this was although they had always intended to start with responsibly-produced materials, they were too small a player to make orders large enough to offset production costs. Thanks to how the brand has grown, though, they are now proudly in a position to take that step.

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Top by Zhai Eco, organic cotton pants by MATTER

The result, launched this month, is MATTER’s first pants in certified organic cotton twill, a material which feels more structured than their previous pants and playsuits (see pictures of them in all their glory above.) For this collection, the team have fittingly gone back to their roots with prints from their archive, and have had them translated onto the new natural and biodegradable fabric using azo free dyes.

Psst – why should I care about organic cotton?

Conventional cotton is typically treated with fungicides, pesticides and all sorts of chemical nasties throughout the growing process. Many of these pesticides have been proven to contain known cancer-causing agents, which are usually sprayed aerially over crops. Of course, this puts anyone working nearby at risk of inhaling toxic chemicals which if exposed to on a regular basis, can be massively damaging to health.

On the flip side, organic cotton is grown with untreated GMO free seeds and without the chemicals, which in turn causes less harm to workers and less harm to the environment. There’s also more mindful soil preparation through crop rotation, whereas conventional cotton production tends to use synthetic fertilisers and intensive irrigation, which can lead to loss of soil and plots of land eventually becoming useless.

Although it’s cheaper to produce conventional cotton in the short-term (which is undoubtedly why so many brands choose it to produce their products across industries) the long-term impact of continuing to produce cotton in this way will be pretty devastating, both environmentally and socially.

How can you do your part?

Although quite a few bigger brands, like Nike and H&M, have committed to using more organic cotton in their clothing, there’s still a long way to go for the industry. One of the main ways we can patronise the industry is, in my opinion, to create the demand.

Buying more organic cotton will help to encourage more retailers to use it as a raw material, which can translate into better incentives for farmers to engage in organic farming practices themselves, too. Aside from that, wear it, tell your friends and spread the word – every little counts! Also have to give a shout out here to local label Etrican, who were one of the first brands in Singapore to use GOTS-certified organic cotton to produce their collections.

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Pictured: 100% crepe silk pants in MATTER’s Bottom Line print

Complementing MATTER’s new organic range is a selection of pants in luxurious printed crepe silk. Wonderfully soft against the skin and draping beautifully against the body, these styles are absolutely stunning and easy to dress up or down. These designs also feature the new IChing print, inspired by motifs of fire and water, two elements that simultaneously oppose and balance each other (you can also find this print on a top and pants in the organic cotton range.) I really love how MATTER tells the inspirations behind their prints.

Does discovering the story behind a label’s collections make you appreciate and connect to their designs more? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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The IChing print in all it’s glory, hand block printed in Jaipur and stitched in Delhi

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The IChing print creation process

 

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