WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PURPOSE DRIVEN BUSINESS
Part of being in a purpose-driven business is looking beyond profit and product. Alongside conversations around revenue, customer metrics, growth percentages and the like, there is also a parallel continual conversation around why we exist in the first place, what impact we want to achieve, and the quantitative metrics that govern that. Having those two conversations coexist is a dialogue that speaks to the core of our mission.
To break it down to what this really means, let’s use the analogy of a car:
1. Traditional bottom line business metrics are a benchmark to tell you how well your engine is running, this is the business framework and it is what enables an organization’s mission to be carried out.
2. Customer data and key partner relationships tell you how much fuel you have in the tank to keep going.
3. Impact metrics are like a map outlining your purpose and showing you where you are going and what the final destination looks like.
We started with one thing only, because we wanted to focus on a key concept and do it well. We began with pants. #pantstoseetheworldin encapsulated the spirit and adventurous edge of how MATTER started. The intention was to provide you with a versatile piece for your journeys, and to see the world through the eyes of the stories behind its fabrics and makers. Focusing on one travel essential and launching with only 3 styles, we were proponents of the ethos of doing one thing, and doing it very well.
3 years later, we’ve gone beyond the silhouettes we began with and we felt that we needed language that encompassed the entirety of our mission and purpose that led to our journey to now.
It is important to us that our message reflects our purpose and after rounds and rounds of working with 2 passionate customers who also happened to be communication specialists, and testing it amongst our most loyal customers, we found three words that felt right. When they were put together and said for the first time, we all unanimously said yes, that’s the one. It just fit.
CHANGE BEYOND TEXTILES
The pants we began with, and even the other styles we expanded to; jumpsuits, tops, shorts, dresses, and scarves – it all funnels down to the textiles. Textiles are our main product, and the significance of it goes beyond the fabric itself. It has always been about storytelling and design: the continuation of a craft, the artisan communities we worked with, and the designers we collaborated with. And this core focus has taken hold across our collaborations. Some of the more memorable ones include:
– Creating a custom print inspired by the Warehouse Hotel’s mark on the Singapore skyline for their bed runners.
– Designing 10 artwork panels for F1’s 10th anniversary as a visual experience of the race.
– Collaborating with Preetika Sah to create a collection inspired by the traditional folk art of her community.
Textiles are our main product, and the significance of it goes beyond the fabric itself. It has always been about storytelling and design: the continuation of a craft, the artisan communities we worked with, and the designers we collaborated with.
The purpose behind MATTER was never to be a fashion brand, and so we never subscribed to its trends and seasonality of launches. Our focus was on textiles and craft and so we work our model around artisan production, building a business that takes into account this inherent slowness, with season-less styles and seasonal fabrics.
The approach to make rural artisan production sustainable is twofold: to champion alternative production models for textile artisans to expand their economic opportunities, and enable the textile craft to continue on as a viable industry. The hope is to connect artisans with designers and customers to make their work accessible to the larger market.
With that, we’ve committed to a model of urban-rural production – taking careful consideration of the variables that affect artisan processes like the serendipities of weather, celebratory customs, and harvest cycles.
Together with designers, we seek to inspire intention in their process – the notion that every print holds a story, and every craft is a piece of cultural heritage. We’ve worked with over 15 designers in the past; to create prints specific to a story they wanted to tell or to create a new style they wanted to explore. Our mission, beyond our collaborative efforts with artisans and designers, is to inspire customers to value the importance of provenance. To create a conversation with our community; to ask where and why something is made, and by whom, to celebrate heritage and give consideration to the people and process behind their items.
WHY IS THIS RELEVANT?
Change beyond textiles is bigger than what we want to do with MATTER, this conversation is just the start and now, more than ever, it holds significant relevance. The textile industry is the fifth most polluting industry in the world. Though it is ranked lower than other areas like electricity and heat, agriculture, road transportation, oil and gas production, and equal to livestock – the fashion industry involves all those industries. Fashion’s supply chain encourages an increase in emissions across four of the most polluting industries on the planet.
– People spend an average of $1,700 annually on clothing; in the 1930s people would buy 9 outfits a year, and now it has gone up to 30.
– It also remains one of the fastest growing industries at 5.5% yearly – and this is only in terms of clothing, not taking into account the amount of textiles in other industries such as homewares, and industrial areas.
– In the area of clothing, fast fashion giants are starting conscious collections to cater to growing consumer demands. Movements like Fashion Revolution have garnered more support over last couple of years with over 800 events in 92 countries.
– The sustainable fashion segment is growing at 19% since 2016, with an increase of ethical brands; 26% of customers willing to pay more for sustainable clothes and 67% prefer to buy quality over trends.
These numbers speak volumes. If you skipped the statistics, here’s the takeaway in short.
Fashion is the fifth most polluting industry in the world, and its supply chain actually encourages an increase across the top four other industries.
The good news – consumers and big name brands are giving more consideration to sustainable fashion. There is a community becoming more aware of the impact of their actions – and it is growing.
On a small scale, Change Beyond Textiles is relevant because it is our commitment in three words:
1. To make rural artisan production sustainable
2. Shift designers’ approach to their process
3. Inspire customers to value provenance
But the bigger vision of this is to create conversations around
1. The value of cultural heritage in textiles
2. The importance of people and process
3. An understanding of the clothing production chain and the larger environmental and social effects
We believe that conversation leads to cause, and if more people are questioning where their clothing comes from and how they’re made, considering the life cycle of a product before purchase, and learning about the importance of retaining alternative ecosystems of production and livelihoods – then talk becomes action and change shapes to impact.
Clothing is one of the primary and intimate ways we express ourselves, and textiles surround our everyday lives; with Change Beyond Textiles, we want our purpose to go beyond what we do.
In a fast-paced fashion culture of profit and product there’s a growing community advocating for the opposite. When you look at the numbers it might seem difficult to make a dent in the norm, but if there’s anything we’ve learned in the last three years, it’s that great things are done by a series of small thing brought together. For us it begins with this — Change Beyond Textiles.
Join us with the hashtag #ChangeBeyondTextiles to keep the conversation going. Every action begins from somewhere, and we want to know what you think.