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Matu is a simple and effective clothing line for men and women. There is nothing superfluous in Marie-Anne Miljours’ work. Derived from Bauhaus’ design aesthetics, Miljours’ style is uncluttered and focuses on the creation’s purpose. Where Bauhaus designers made harmonized objects using their golden ration, Marie-Anne Miljours defines her collection’s silhouettes with the help of a golden rectangle. As part of the Slow Made movement, Matu features plain shades, timeless shapes and long-lasting materials; simple and useful garments with a philosophy combining tradition and innovation.
Baron: How did you get into fashion?
Marie-Anne Miljours: I earned a technique in fashion design at Marie Victorin and went straight to college afterwards. Once I get my B.A., I’ll specialize in leather crafts, since I’m already making leather accessories for Matu, my own company.
B.: Your collection has the same name as your company. Can you shed some light on the meaning of Matu?
M.-A. M.: The name Matu [pronounced Mattew] combines the initials of my boyfriend’s name and mine’s, Marie-Anne and Tommy. The “u” represents you, the customer and the community. In means that we personalize our work to your lifestyle, that we make clothes for people who ride bikes, who sit and drink coffee, and who buy some groceries; not for models who strut down the catwalk. We’ve been working on the project for a year now and we’ve officially registered the business in January.
B.: What’s Matu’s philosophy?
M.-A. M.: We’re selling mid to high end everyday accessories. I don’t like what’s useless or superfluous. I’d rather go with what’s uncluttered and timeless. All our accessories are made out of vegetable-tanned leather, which means no chemicals are used in the tanning process. Leather will last 40-50 years and ages nicely. From its initial skin colored shade, our leather will slowly become caramel and, eventually, brown. We want to provide our customers with products that will last for long.
B.: Why did you choose leather?
M.-A. M.: It was a good way to do things with a more eco-friendly approach. Since most leathers are tanned with aniline, an extremely toxic substance, we went with vegetable-tanned leather. This fits our values regarding sustainable development. Now, I don’t want to sound granola or do some patchwork – because Quebec’s eco-friendly fashion is mostly seen as patchwork – I just wish to use the least synthetic environment-friendly materials available. The same goes for my fabrics, which I want to be made out of natural fibers that will last longer. That’s why you’ll only see 2% spandex in my fabrics.
B.: What inspired your clothing collection?
M.-A. M.: It all started from the divine proportion, which led to the golden rectangle. This geometric form contains the golden number, the golden spiral, and six smaller golden rectangles. Every part of every pattern made for Matu fits in one of those smaller rectangles. For instance, a sleeve’s length and largest point had to fit in the golden rectangle. Since everything’s been made that way, the collection’s silhouettes are all quite rectangular, but their proportion checks out. The divine proportion has been used for centuries and I’m certainly not the first one to apply it to fashion. Nonetheless, it worked well in my case.
B.: Since Matu is a business your share with your boyfriend, did he have something to do with your collection?
M.-A. M.: Tommy’s a graphic designer, so he took care of the company’s branding and logo. When it comes to Matu as a collection, I did everything because it was part of my college studies. Tommy helped me make sure my clothes would fit in with our company’s other products. He also represents my target market, when it comes to men. So I was always asking for his advice on men’s clothes, if he would wear them or not. He likes fashion but doesn’t spend too much time shopping. He knows the values of things and will gladly pay the higher price for a quality product.
B.: Your work ethics are similar to the Slow Made movement’s…
M.-A. M.: Slow Made is one of the slow movements. It suggests a method close to the fine crafts’. Slow Made began in 2012 and follows the same logic as the slow economy: consume less and consume better. It’s all about choosing quality over quantity and paying the right price. We should stop encouraging cheap labor. Gratuity has always a price… Someone said something pretty clever about that, during Fashion Revolution: “Someone somewhere is always paying. Fashion isn’t free.”
B.: What are your views on being a designer defending theses values in Montreal’s fashion industry?
M.-A. M.: I see it as a great challenge. People here aren’t well informed on local clothing’s real value. To them, when it comes to pricing, H&M has got it right. To help raise awareness on local fashion, I’ll start writing for Bohos.ca. I’ll try to tell my readers about eco-friendly fashion that still has a nice style. There are so many talented designers in Montreal… I believe we’ll slowly change customers’ habits through better awareness.
Discover Marie-Anne Miljours’ Matu on April 29th, as part of the collective fashion show of UQÀM’s Fashion management – design and styling graduates, at the university’s Design Center’s gallery.