A few years ago, Inder found this great material at a fabric trade show in Hong Kong. It had a crinkled shiny surface that was kind of perplexing but we fell in love with it right away because it was so different from everything else out there. It reminded us of Washi*, a style of paper handmade in Japan using natural fibers. That’s where the name Japanese Paper came from (it’s not actually paper though– it’s a polyester fabric with a polyurethane coating that makes it super resistant!). On top of it, we have some sort of obsession in the office with things often associated with Japanese culture: the precise traditions, minimalist architecture, the Zen influences mixed in with a totally badass counterculture movement. It took some experimenting with the material (did we like it simple or with a lot of seams? Structured or billowy?) and we designed a few collections around it. The result: amazingly light bags that take so well to color. We just introduced some styles back on our website, for a limited time only.
*Washi (和紙) is a style of paper that was first made in Japan. Washi is commonly made using fibers from the bark of trees, but also can be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat. Washi comes from wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper, and the term is used to describe paper made by hand in the traditional manner.
I’ve been anticipating the release date of the new rendition of the classic novel The Great Gatsby by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald for a few months now. The new adaptation by Director Baz Lurhmann, which came out this Friday, was cinematically stunning.
Prada Sketches for The Great Gatsby
I’m quite the fashion enthusiast and for most of the film I found myself having to lift my jaw, as the costumes and cinematography were incredible! I had to stop from fiddling in my seat from excitement the whole time. Not to mention, the 1920’s are one of my favorite decades historically for fashion, I got the urge to cut my hair into a bob when it ended.
What I loved most of the film was Lurhmann’s ability to capture the energy of the roaring 20’s. The speakeasies, the androgyny, the flappers, the dancing & the partying were captured seamlessly. I’ve always had an interest in costume design; and after watching the film and reading an interview with costume designer Catherine Martin, it inspired me to take the weekend to myself and start sewing again. My machine has been stacked up in my closet the entire winter collecting dust; it felt good to start using it again. It’s easy to fall into routine, though making time for yourself & your favorite hobby (for myself at least) is the best break to routine and who knows maybe one day I’ll be able to make one of the costumes from the film… it’s in the works!
Many artists, particularly us introverts, dream of having a 2nd home that is away from the hustle bustle of the big city. For myself it would be a shack made of concrete, steel and glass surrounded by acres of forest and enough trees so that privacy would be an understatement !
I’m guessing these are the feelings Phillip Johnson had in 1949 when he built his glass house in New Canaan, Connecticut. The project was not only innovative for the time, but also became a turning point in modern architecture.
The 47 acre estate includes 13 modernist structures Johnson built. There is an underground paintings gallery which includes a portrait of Johnson by Andy Warhol as well as works by Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Julian Schnabel and Robert Rauschenberg.
An interesting quote in LIFE magazine in 1949, sign of the times: “Except when entertaining, Johnson lives alone, servantless and accompanied only by weather, paintings and books.”
I tend to think of the Glass House every summer once the snow is gone and the grass is green again, maybe it’s time to take a tour…
Two seemingly incongruous worlds collided this past Saturday night in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. At SIR Stage37, steps from the Westside Highway, fashion fans and animal lovers alike gathered to toast both.
A runway show, cocktail party and auction, the swank Fashion Loves Animals soirée at once honored designer Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart and her cruelty-free company Vaute Couture, as well as fundraised for Farm Sanctuary, one of the nation’s foremost animal protection organizations.
“Farm Sanctuary has always been my most favorite place on earth,” Leanne beamed to a captive audience following the main event. “Honestly, it’s amazing.”
Hilgart in February wowed a considerable crowd and attracted mainstream media attention when her brand became the first all-vegan fashion label to show in the history of New York Fashion Week. Her presentation—which, in addition to showcasing autumn/winter ready-to-wear, also featured adoptable dogs alongside models—secured coverage in and on outlets like US News & World Report and CNN, the latter dubbing Hilgart “the rebel of Fashion Week.” Which is, in case it isn’t apparent, a compliment. No fur, no leather, no wool, no down, no silk—nothing derived from an animal. Just innovative and attractive alternatives.
“Events like this are very inspiring. It’s a way to recognize entrepreneurs who are making a difference, by producing products—in this case fashion products—that do not cause animals to suffer. We need more of that. We need more young people to get involved in creating positive change. Leanne’s done an amazing job with Vaute Couture.”
As with her first iteration three months ago, Hilgart enlisted Joshua Katcher of Brave GentleMan and Monisha Raja of Love Is Mighty to complete her ensembles with cruelty-free footwear. Katcher’s collaboration with Novacas has in the past year yielded the most attractive men’s shoes on the market. And Raja didn’t disappoint with her eye-catching heels, each woven out of otherwise landfill-bound biscuit wrappers.
Whimsy could also be seen in Hilgart’s youthful line. Comprised of myriad sweet pieces and her classic coats, perhaps most coveted were her patterned dresses with skin-baring star and heart cutouts at the upper back.
“I just love hearts and stars,” Leanne gushed. “To have a playful element to things, that’s really important to me. I think people take fashion too seriously.”
Keeping with the evening’s theme of fun, food vied with fashion (and adorable dogs) for the limelight. Twenty-year-old chef Jay Astafa volunteered his services, churning out savory hors d’oeuvres, while pasty chef Fran Costigan pleased palates with decadent desserts.
“I really wanted to get involved with Farm Sanctuary,” said Astafa, who—beyond passing apps like cashew chévre crostini with ramps and mac ‘n’ cheese bites (both of which were ridiculously delicious)—also donated a four-course gourmet meal for ten.
Of his generous gift, which commanded a $1,000 bid-donation, Astafa shrugged, “Cooking for ten people is easy, and I wanted to do something nice for animals.”
Astafa wasn’t alone in this. Also up for auction were Love Is Mighty flats, The Body Shop bath and beauty loot and a Brave GentleMan custom tailored blazer, among other things.
Partygoers were equally smitten over the Matt & Nat handbags, briefcases and backpacks that male and female models carried down the catwalk. The mother of an intern even later tried to buy one off of Hilgart. “I’m like, I’m sorry, I have no control over that,” Hilgart laughed while recalling the incident. “People love the Matt & Nat bags.”
What’s more, unlike a lot of animal advocacy happenings, albeit comparably lovely, Fashion Loves Animals drew fashion industry insiders. So, when Baur addressed guests, many were hearing his wise words and viewing his compelling slides for the first time, which is critical.
“Every day we make choices,” he began. “It’s about living in a way that’s more humane, more kind. These animals [at Farm Sanctuary] get to be who they are. They get to express, which is part of fashion, too. Animals on factory farms in cages can’t.”
Hilgart put it quite nicely when she explained to me her aesthetic motivation.
“I’ve always loved Sailor Moon in terms of design. [But, she also has] this amazing story. [She’s] a normal earth girl [who] tries to save a cat. The cat turns out to be a magical cat [that] gives [Sailor Moon] superpowers!”
Hilgart at last brought the creative concept full circle, “I feel like, that’s what life is. If you help others, you find your superpowers. And that’s true for everyone.”
Photos courtesy of Max Gordon.
We moved our offices last December from Chabanel street (otherwise known as the fashion district in Montreal) to an area not too far from there that feels really different. The streets in our new neighborhood are bordered with grass so it’s easy to step out and get some fresh air, eat your lunch seating on a rock or take a moment to relax outside. After 8 years spent on paved streets, I must say this new address makes me appreciate these simple pleasures. Given the incredible summer weather we’ve been experiencing the past couple of days, I decided to step out and take some pictures of our Dean backpack around the block this afternoon. The Dean has been one of our favorites recently: it’s so simple and practical, and yet we love the sharp lines. It’s also great on a bike, so when we were experimenting with the recycled rubber from bicycle tires, it made sense to try the material on this style. What you see in the pictures is a development sample of the style for our Fall 13 collection, one of these prototypes we use to test our ideas. We changed it a little bit after that, maybe we’ll use this sample for one of our giveaways.
We’re constantly testing out new materials that we can use for our bags in order to reduce our carbon footprint. I’m excited to say that our Fall 13 line (that will be available for purchase in August) will feature 100 yards of recycled bicycle tires! It was a fun addition to our line; especially for us bike enthusiasts here at the office. We’ve been playing around with the material for a few months now and are happy to have it included.
Here are a few of the samples that we fiddled with. The process is almost as fun as the final product. What are your thoughts?
We’re starting off small, only offering it as an exclusive small batch to our unify collection. Stay tuned for our launch in August!
One of our sales reps just returned from a trip to London and was a little disappointed at what she felt was a lack of new trends in the marketplace.
We had an interesting discussion about minimalism and how this trend of clean lines and no logos is starting to take shape.
This is of course music to our ears at MATT & NAT as the clean aesthetic with a focus on utility has always been at the basis of our craft. From Japanese and Scandinavian design influences to a focus on utility with details that pop and perform, it’s a design language that we’ve been speaking for almost 20 years….
There’s a great article in the April issue of Elle Canada that discusses how minimalism also applies to a simpler lifestyle: working fewer hours, making the right choices, evolving past the simple ‘less is more’. Karim Rashid and Ennio Capasa go on to say that it’s not simply the cold minimalism of the 90’s coming back but a warmer minimalism or sensualism as coined by Rashid.
“What minimalism is really about is a reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff-the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities-that don’t bring value to your life” Colin Wright, exilelife.com
BRING VALUE TO YOUR LIFE- everything you do, are involved with, all your relationships, when you make ‘value added’ a priority, your time starts to become that much more valuable…as it should be
Is minimalism the new consumerism ?http://www.upgradereality.com/minimalist-lifestyle/
We really enjoy pieces that can be worn by both genders. When we introduced our travel bag, the Raylan, in our men’s 2012 collection, it seemed like women could not get enough of it. The appeal might have been the same as a worn-in pair of jeans or that perfect shirt you want to steal from you-know-who, it just struck a cord. The following season, we were looking to add another piece to the collection that had the same vibe and functionality, but smaller in shape so that people would be able to carry it everyday (because you know, we want you to carry them all the time). We pictured an adventurous person wearing it, someone that carries a lot of life with them, literally and figuratively. The bag is just the right size for you to pack half of your belongings inside and take them with you everywhere. We named it Jack after Kerouac, not only because he’s originally from our beloved province of Quebec, but also because the spirit in his writings will never cease to inspire us.
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road.
I was on the line with aeroplan this week booking a trip and was asked for my birthdate. Sukh (my surprised agent at the other end) let me know that she not only had the same birthday, but the same year ! Chances of that ? I’ve always felt that everything is connected and there are no such things as coincidences (I’ve yet to find the connection with Sukh but this journey isn’t over yet.
The call this week got me thinking about numerology, the study of the special relationship between numbers and coinciding events.
I also rediscovered 21, the beautiful and massive coffee table book put out by Ennio Capasa for the 21st anniversary of COSTUME NATIONAL. To quote Capasa:
“ I am celebrating the 21st anniversary because this was a magical age for me in my youth looking back and because I was born on the 12th, my brother on the 21st, my father on the 12th, my mother on the 3rd (2 +1), my headquarters is in Via Fusetti 12, my first shop in Milan in Via Sant’Andrea 12, my factory in Thiene in Via Dell’Agricoltura 21- numbers have always played me!”
I’m not going to talk about all the t.v shows out there right now relating numbers to events and crimes (although they sound really neat ). I will instead ask you to pop your name into the site below and decide for yourself, coincidence or…….
The 2002 futuristic thriller ‘Minority Report’ is not looking so distant any more….
Sales at the retail level have been relatively flat for many fashion brands since the start of the recession yet e.commerce sales for some have increased as much as 30 % year over year.
Social media has presented a whole new opportunity for connecting with customers as never before. We recently celebrated reaching 25,000 facebook followers at MATT & NAT and we are seeing ROI on digital/web initiatives that make traditional advertising such as radio and print look negligible.
Check out this great profile on Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of BURBERRY, inspiration for all of us that are trying to keep up with this ever evolving world. Hoping to plant some digital seeds in your psyche over the weekend, have a great one !
Menswear has always had a big influence on our designs; we always find a lot of inspiration in the utility and though lines that are traditionally thought of as masculine and nothing pleases us like seeing a women carry the Soren or Raylan bags from our men’s collection. Lately though, I was watching the video of David Bowie’s latest single “the stars are out tonight” and it got me thinking about how FUN the recent displays of androgyny have been in fashion/music. Case in point: Bowie’s video below. A word of warning, it is wild and bizarre, but it also features a fascinating gender reversal: models Andrej Pejic and Saskia de Brauw play a celebrity couple where Pejic is the girl, while de Brauw is the boy. A lot of weirdness ensues.
Case in point #2: Casey Legler is an artist that works in New York. A former Olympic swimmer, she’s also a women working as a male model. Speaking about her modeling career, Casey’s focus is on self-expression and freedom: “I understand signifiers. We’re social creatures and we have a physical language of communicating with each other,” she says. “But it would be a really beautiful thing if we could all just wear what we wanted, without it meaning something.” Watch her interview below, we dare you not to be charmed.
I recently came across this text from Kevin Lyons, a designer and illustrator that has worked with the likes of Nike, Converse, and Coca-Cola,among others… Not only does he relate this piece to one of our favorite bands – the Velvet Underground—but in a way, this reflects how we approach our design process. The Velvet Underground was formed in a 60’s, a decade that broke many fashion traditions, mirroring social movements during the period. I don’t know if it’s the social change that happened during that time, the development of a counterculture, or the will to break conventions, but there is something deeply inspiring that we keep coming back to in term of music, art, architecture and design. I especially cannot get enough of the 60’s photography section in LIFE’s website. I’m particularly in love with this one lately:
But to go back to the quote, we’ve been designing since 1995, with ample time to have our fair share of changes of hearts, and it was at times a winding road to figure out just how to be. As creative people, it can be hard to let go things, but it’s very liberating. We’ve come to a place where we focus about the process, concentrating our attention on the purpose and simplicity of what we do; the rest comes on its own.
You really have to learn to love snow if you live in Montreal. Except for some strange episodes of global warming (remember that crazy winter day last year when the temp reached 25 degrees?), there is just no escaping it. Generally, our view when it comes to fighting the inescapable is to stop fighting, just go with it, and enjoy the journey. We actually just got our last (maybe?) big storm of the season this week, but the sun is shining today and the air is crisp, making everything brighter.
But back to Spring: it’s a fantastic season that is so short in our city that it almost doesn’t exist. The energy is incredible, palpable in the air. You sense the moods changing, the people smiling more. It happens in every city, but it’s on a whole different scale here. After a few months longing to go out without a winter jacket, to see some green grass, to imagine spending time out on a terrace, that sense of longing and knowing that something different is coming creates real desire. Needless to say, it’s a great source of inspiration ingrained within us; we think about spring and all we imagine are bursts of color and fun shapes. It’s especially true this year, with shades of green, yellow, orange and ocean, our color palette for spring 2013 is all about POP.
Il faut vraiment apprendre à aimer la neige, si vous habitez à Montréal. Sauf pour quelques épisodes étranges du réchauffement climatique (rappelez-vous ce jour d’hiver fou l’an dernier lorsque la température atteint 25 degrés?), il n’y a tout simplement pas moyen d’y échapper. En général, notre point de vue quand il s’agit de lutter contre l’inéluctable est de simplement arrêter la lutte et juste suivre le courant en appréciant les choses au jour le jour. En fait, nous venons juste d’avoir notre dernière (peut-être?) grosse tempête de la saison cette semaine, mais le soleil brille aujourd’hui et l’air est vif, ce qui rend tout plus lumineux.
Mais revenons au Printemps: c’est une saison fantastique qui est si courte dans notre ville qu’elle n’existe presque pas. L’énergie est incroyable, palpable dans l’air. Vous sentez les humeurs changeantes, les gens qui sourient plus. Ça arrive dans chaque ville, mais c’est vraiment sur une toute autre échelle ici. Après quelques mois à avoir envie de sortir sans une veste d’hiver, d’imaginer passer du temps sur une terrasse, l’anticipation de l’arrivée prochaine du printemps crée un désir réel. Inutile de dire que c’est une source d’inspiration bien ancrée en nous, quand nous pensons au printemps, nous imaginons tout de suite des éclats de couleurs. C’est particulièrement vrai cette année, avec des nuances de vert, de jaune, d’orange et d’océan, notre palette de couleurs pour le printemps 2013 est POP.