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Sarah Giam
Urban, The Straits Times
Monday, Jul 21, 2014

Matter of heritage

Urban, The Straits Times | Sarah Giam | Monday, Jul 21, 2014

Ms Ho Renyung, co-founder of home-grown pants label Matter. She is wearing the Classic Wideleg pants from her brand.

A three-month-old home-grown pants label is making strides internationally.

Matter, set up by friends Ho Renyung and Yvonne Suner in May, has been featured in the Italian and Indian editions of fashion magazine Vogue.

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington has approached Ho and Suner to sell the pants, made by artisans in India and featuring traditional block-printing, at the retail stores of its museums of Asian art - the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

It seems like Ho and Suner's belief in "doing one thing and doing it really well" has paid off.

The pair, who met six years ago while working in Mexico in hotel operations, decided to launch a pants label because "there is something still quite rebellious about a woman wearing pants", says Ho, 28.

They also wanted to create an alternative to jeans, leggings or harem pants that are usually worn when travelling, which is why Matter's tagline is "Pants To See The World In". The pants are sold online at matterprints.com.

The duo picked the name "Matter" as they wanted something "inclusive, that connects all of us and is about going back to basics".

Ho chose to manufacture the label in India after falling in love with the country's artisans and textiles during a trip there last year with her husband, Adrien Desbaillets, one of the founders of salad chain SaladStop!.

The pants, which are designed by Ho and Suner in collaboration with designers and artisans, are made of hand-loomed cotton, which is softer than machine-manufactured cotton due to its looser weave, and silk cotton - a blend of 82 per cent cotton and 18 per cent silk, which is machine-washable and breathable. They are hand-loomed by artisans in Rajasthan.

No zips, just flexible closures

The prints have roots in Indian culture. For example, one print is shaped like an iron spear made by the Gadia Lohar nomadic tribe in India. The print (seen on the pants Ho is wearing, above) still features on clothing worn by the nomadic Banjara community in Gujarat, where it is known as the Banjari print.

Printing is done at three blockprinting workshops in Jaipur, while a factory in Delhi manufactures the pants.

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