Eight years ago, a designer with a penchant for architecture, subculture, and bold ethics launched MATT & NAT - a line of vegan accessories that is unabashedly tearing down any notion that you can't be fashion-forward and an environmentalist. Anyone who is only one or the other might just be lazy.
Inder Bedi, the brain in which MATT & NAT both reside - and the 34 year old discerning brute whose headquarters are in Montreal, makes no apologies for his commitment to animal advocacy and environmentalism. His accessories are always totally vegan, and are increasingly made from recycled and sustainable materials.
The fact that the new fall 2008 lines are gorgeously-serious, structured, edgy, and modish is enough to make anyone do a triple-take as you walk by - but compound that with the fact that these accessories consist of treated cardboard, recycled soda bottles, and vintage faux-leather and it's a recipe for handsome ethics.
Like Marshall McLuhan, MATT & NAT isn’t just the bag; it’s the message. Discreetly or proudly, to carry the bag is to carry the message. The Fall 08 collection takes its cues from menswear with a deep color palette, emphasis on heavy hardware, and a narrowed focus on larger all-use carryalls. Such a focused collection makes a bold statement. No other line says it quite as strongly as CARTON. With the success of spring 08’s experimentation in eco-fabrics, MATT & NAT is now exploring the world of paper. CARTON is fabricated from treated cardboard and retails for $150 - $295. Featuring vintage synthetic leather trims, bags are available in either black or natural, with the choice of mix-copper or antique silver hardware. The line is unique, powerful, and for those wanting to make a statement. There’s no question about it, CARTON is progressive, both in design & fabrication.
Perfect for those cold winter days, FEUTRE is a line of heather gray felt bags entirely void of animal by-products retailing for $225 - $295. A first for MATT & NAT, the felt is 100% recycled water bottles. Bags are available in a choice of two trims: coffee or cement gray Japanese paper with lead-free copper hardware and a dark tonal lining. Masculine, distinct, and bound to be a classic, FEUTRE is minimalism at its best. Another first this season, BELTS. Made from synthetic leather, the line is comprised of traditional unisex hip belts that retail for $100 - $135. What sets these belts apart are the buckles in varying metals. Industrial in look, with oversized screw accents, BELTS iterate the design elements of the collection, and reinforce MATT & NAT as an avant-garde.
I had a few moments to interview Inder, here is our conversation:
DB: What is your inspiration for the upcoming collections? IB: Architecture, cinema and music
DB: How did Matt & Nat come to be? IB: A desire to put out a vegan line that represents balance between the two voices in my head (matt & nat), the voices that we hear all day that inevitably lead to the decisions we make every second…matt & nat strives to balance us as people as well as the worlds of fashion and positivity.
DB: Who are some of your celebrity fans? IB: Nathalie Portman, Woody Allen, Heather Mills, Eva Mendes, Charlize Theron.
DB: How has fashion affected the green movement, and vice versa? IB: Fashion has placed pressure on green to be more sexy (Kelly Green?), the green movement has asked fashion to be more responsible….weird question for me…been doing this since 1997…
DB: Does Matt & Nat have an official position on using skins, feathers, and fur? If so, why? IB: matt & nat doesn’t….but I do…which inevitably effects matt & nat, it’s a fashion forward line of accessories that will always be vegan…
DB: What is your biggest concern with the fashion industry right now? IB: The extremes of ethical fashion and unethical fashion and the lack of lines in between.
DB: Are there any accessories you want to make that you haven't been able to include in a collection yet? IB: Belts, soon!
DB: Why should every fashionisto & fashionista care where their accessories come from, what they're made of, and who makes them? IB: Because we vote with our dollars, whether we like it or not.
DB: What's the worst thing that's happened to you as a designer? And the best? IB: Took many years before matt & nat got noticed - best and worst thing. DB: Fill in the blanks: Every single person should make a dramatic change in their life at least once a year. Cool is doing it before it’s done, Chic is not in my vocabulary.