Vegan handbags usually fit into one of two categories: “vegan leather” (which is usually made of polyvinyl chloride and other non-natural materials that are actually quite awful for the environment) or cloth/canvas (cute, but not very sturdy and a bit casual for those who prefer a more traditional looking purse. Up-and-coming Sri Lankan brand Kantala is bringing something new to the table with vibrant, woven handbags using carefully sourced, all natural materials paired with traditional shapes.
I first discovered Matter Prints about a year ago and fell in love with the bold prints, easy styles, and traveler-oriented marketing- who doesn't want ethically made "pants to see the world in"? Matter Prints boasts a beautifully transparent supply chain, tracing the journey of each garment as it makes its way from the fabric supplier to the printing workshop, and then finally to Matter Prints' sewing and manufacturing partner.
The beautiful designs you'll find within Matter's range are more than just pretty patterns- each design is chosen with intention and a desire to honor the rich history of handmade textiles throughout India and extending into other parts of the world. There's the bhalka design, reminiscent of spearheads, worn by nomadic tribes in India. The "Indonesia" print is derived from a traditional motif meant to reflect a starry sky and unconditional love... and there are many more beautiful and meaningful prints to choose from!
The cotton that is used for Matter Prints' garments is light enough to be cool and comfortable, but sturdy enough that it can handle movement without stress. Matter makes sure to use azo-free dyes and to reduce their environmental footprint however they can.
When I got the chance to review one of Matter Prints' newer designs, a sort of one-size-fits-all jumpsuit, I hesitated just for a moment. As someone who has come to realize that I don't feel as stylish or confident in slouchy/oversized garments, I wasn't sure I'd love the roomy gaucho silhouette. I'm so glad that I decided to give the jumpsuit a try! It's become one of the most well-worn pieces in my tiny wardrobe in the time that I've owned it... and it IS perfect for travel! The cinched in waist ensures that my small frame isn't overwhelmed by all the fabric, and the breezy open back keeps me cool and comfortable.
I took my new jumpsuit for a test run on my latest trip to the Philippines, and got tons of wear out of it. It's easy to hand wash and quickly hang out to dry in the sun without losing its shape- a must for any serious traveler. I love it so much that I'm already eyeing my next Matter Prints garment- the sideswept dhoti!
I only add items to my wardrobe that are extremely versatile and somewhat "seasonless" (I try to wear as many of my clothes as possible year-round rather than having things in storage), and my Matter Prints jumpsuit definitely is. I've worn it dressed down with sandals and a big sunhat, dressed up with wedges and a statement necklace, and even to meetings with booties and a blazer. I'm looking forward to styling it for fall as the days get colder- even through the open backed cut is summery, the dark print is appropriate for any season and a layering a thick sweater will do the trick to keep things cozy.
While you're checking out Matter Prints online or on their gorgeous instagram feed, be sure to take a look at Matters' latest collaboration with Himalayan artist and designer Preetika Sah, the Kumaon collection. The Kumaon collection is part of an effort to revive the slowly diminishing art & culture of Kumaon, and each purchase contributes toward keeping an ancient art form alive and flourishing.
A huge thanks to my talented friend Mark of Mark Francis Photography for grabbing all of these great shots on a random rooftop in Manila!
When a cause becomes a trend, everyone will hop on board... but not really. They'll buy the book, watch the documentary, post a facebook status or two, and then go back to silence.
We saw it with #bringbackourgirls - when the whole world cared for about 2 months and then all went quiet without any movement toward actual solutions.
We see it with the anti trafficking movement- where facebook profile photos are changed to hands with red X's once a year but no long-term, systemic changes are made by the same awareness groups that clamor for attention.
And we see it with the ethical fashion movement. "Ethical is the new black" is the rallying cry for hundreds who will watch the True Cost, buy a fair trade bracelet and a USA made top... and then head right back to H&M.
And I have no eloquent words about this phenomenon. Quite frankly, it makes me upset. Ethical fashion is not a trend, it's not a statement... it's the right thing to do, period.
To me, ethical fashion means constantly learning better, then doing better. It means that my standards for the clothing I purchase will become higher with each passing year. It means a lifestyle, it means long-term commitment.
The quote captured on the tee I'm wearing in this post was penned by Amanda Busher, founder of New Left, and It's a sentiment I believe in with all my heart.
Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.