A socially conscious label that promotes traditional artisanal craft might seem like the antithesis of what today’s social media generation would be into. Ho Renyung has never been fazed though. After meeting a local textile community and social enterprise during a fund-raising charity trip to India, she set up Matter in 2013 with the aim of making textile artisanship relevant, as well as improving and sustaining rural craft livelihoods across Asia.
While most brands seem to be in a mad rush to create more products, she focused only on one: pants (it’s led to the quirky tag line “Pants to see the world in”). In a variety of resort-ready styles, each features graphic prints created by generational artisans specialising in old-school techniques such as block printing and ikat. Incidentally, the aesthetic is spot on for this season’s ’90s-inflected, neo-nomad look popularised by brands like Baja East.
And true to Ho’s philosophy that a product with a story to tell will naturally bring value to the wearer (and lots of likes), the label has hit a high in the past year. Besides being sold on its own e-commerce site Matterprints.com, it’s now carried by online stores A Boy Named Sue of Hong Kong, and Northernism of Amsterdam – in addition to Tangs Orchard, Kapok, and Gallery & Co at the National Gallery.
On Instagram, the local creative set (including branding experts Charmaine Seah and Aarika Lee of the Female collective) has taken its tag line literally, flooding the social media sphere with OOTDs showing off its unisex dhotis and fisherman shorts. Expect more to pop up: This year, Ho plans to debut tops and jumpsuits.