Choosing items that spark joy – and caring for them so they last for years – is the cornerstone of the KonMari Method™.
Conscious consumption is core to MATE the Label’s ethos, too. A leader in eco-friendly fashion, MATE’s elevated essentials are made from organic, sustainable fabrics – and are all produced within a 10-mile radius of their headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Inspired by their commitment to clean fashion and a tidy closet, we partnered with MATE on an exclusive line of joy-sparking basics: super-soft T-shirts, a sweatshirt and joggers – all made from organic cotton and featuring KonMari mantras. We spoke with MATE about the future of fashion, and how we can all contribute to a cleaner, greener planet.
What is MATE’s mission?
MATE is on a mission to clean up the fashion industry by using non-toxic, natural and organic materials. Conventional cotton is the dirtiest crop in the world – it relies on pesticides that are known to be endocrine-disrupting, carcinogenic and neurotoxic. We believe that what you wear matters, so we offer our community the cleanest products possible that are good for their health – and for the planet.
Describe the MATE aesthetic in three words.
Minimal. Relaxed. Earthy.
The KonMari Method™ encourages people to treat their items with respect – and to only surround themselves with things that truly spark joy. The result is a more mindful approach to caring for one’s possessions – and to buying new ones. What are your tips for keeping clothes in great shape for a long time?
The first step is to avoid impulse buying; clarify the purchase intent (why you want something) and give yourself at least a week-long window before committing to an item in your cart. Then, once a piece is part of your wardrobe, find a home for it – and display it in a way that lights you up, à la the KonMari Method™! Clothes that are thoughtfully purchased and intentionally cared for will last a long time.
There are many ways to approach sustainability. What’s MATE’s angle?
At MATE, we take a holistic approach to sustainability and consider the full life cycle of a garment. Most sustainable brands focus solely on environmental impact or ethical manufacturing; in addition to those concerns, we also focus on the fashion industry’s impact on our health. We launched our Dress Clean initiative to address how disruptive and toxic the fashion industry is – and to do something about it.
What is the connection between the clothes we wear and our physical health?
Unfortunately, most conventional clothing is riddled with chemicals: Over 8,000 synthetic chemicals are involved in the manufacturing process. Consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of clean beauty products and clean food, but what about clean clothes? Our skin is our largest organ – what we put on it gets absorbed into our bodies.
Not only does clothing affect our health through fabric-to-skin contact, but it also affects the health of our planet. Over 60% of clothing is synthetic and reliant on fossil fuels – the largest contributors to climate change. Our soil, air and water are being degraded and polluted by the industry – and this ultimately affects our overall health. Cancer, autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses have skyrocketed in the past 40 years, largely due to the use of pesticides. In addition, we are facing a massive microplastic problem: Humans and animals are ingesting plastic at alarming rates. At MATE, we recognize that everything is interconnected. The fashion industry is failing us, and we’re here to change that!
All of your factories are within 10 miles of your L.A. headquarters. Why is having a super localized supply chain important?
We are proud to keep our supply chain extremely localized for a few different reasons – one of which is that less than 3% of clothing is produced in the U.S.! The most important is the human component – the connection and transparency that come from developing in-person relationships are invaluable. Finally, a tight radius of factory partners allows us to keep our carbon footprint very small.
Take us through the creation of a MATE garment step by step – from fiber to factory to finished product.
There are many steps and a lot of hands that go into making a single garment! First, we procure our organic cotton, which is farmed in India and knitted in L.A. After it’s knit, the fabric gets tested for shrinkage – and other quality control measures. Once the fabric is approved, a garment is cut and sewn in one of our factories before going to the dye house – we garment dye each piece for a softer feel and richer color. From there, the item is sent back to our cut and sew facility, where it undergoes quality control and is ready to be shipped to our warehouse.
What’s a closed loop process? Is this the same thing as a circular model? If not, what’s the difference?
The concepts are similar – but they have key differences. A closed loop process often refers to material processing. For example, Tencel is made within a closed loop system, which means that over 99% of the solvent used is recovered and reused in future production. A circular model – or the circular economy – refers to a product’s ability to have endless life cycles. This can look like fiber to fiber recycling or resale programs.
Other than buying from MATE, what are some things that consumers can do to shop more sustainably?
Questioning what happens to a product after its first life is really important – we need to understand that there is no “away.” Most clothing ends up in landfills – or in waste streams that wreak havoc on our environment. Look for natural materials that can biodegrade easily instead of synthetic materials that will live for 500-plus years in a landfill. If you can, buy organic clothing, and look for certifications including GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), Bluesign, Certified B Corporation and Oeko-Tex.
Crystal ball moment: Where do you see the fashion industry in five years?
We are so excited for the future of fashion! We believe that brands and consumers alike will push for a healthier and cleaner fashion ecosystem. At MATE, we advocate creating products that can be used year round – and aren’t limited to a specific “season.” It would be nice to see brands investing more in their hero products – and reducing their other offerings – to provide a better customer experience and, ultimately, a more sustainable way of doing business. We are hopeful that the industry is headed in the right direction – and we want to express gratitude for consumers who are pushing brands to do things better.
Shop the full MATE the Label x KonMari collection – only available in our online shop.