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Founded by Australian sisters, Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen, the brand is built on simplicity, comfort and making a woman feel confident. Interested in the timeless appeal of fashion, and ensuring that each piece is designed to last a lifetime, Matteau is about pieces that last far longer than a summer vacation. Together they explain where the brand started, who inspires them and what fashion changes we can all make for the better.
What was the idea behind Matteau?
We wanted to create simple, well made, reliable pieces for the modern woman in summer. Our goal was that everything should feel effortless and have an ease to it, and make you feel good. We started in swimwear with just three tops, three briefs and one maillot. Everything is designed to be paired back with other pieces from the collection as well as older pieces that you may already own. It’s about simple things that you can trust, enjoy and feel confident in.
How should women shop for swimwear?
In a good frame of mind! Swimwear can be daunting so best to shop for it when you’re feeling confident, have good energy and a positive state of mind.
Who do you design Matteau for?
We design for the modern woman. She wants to find well made, thoughtful pieces that she can wear on vacation and during the summer to make her feel good.
How do you work together?
We have always worked together apart. While the pandemic made it slightly more difficult for me to travel back to Australia, we have been working remotely through Facetime and Zoom since we started the business, as I (Ilona) have always been based in the US while Peta is based in Australia. We have a groove that works well and are efficient and well versed in how we work. It feels like the rest of the world has now caught up to the way we’ve been working for the last 6 years. Peta is definitely more focused on the business side of things, and I work more on creative, but we design and decide everything together so it’s a nice balance.
What are your personal styles?
ILONA: Very classic but with character. I like uniform dressing and keeping things simple. I love a great black pant or jean and a silk or cotton shirt and a sandal.
PETA: Simple but elegant with low effort - I wear a lot of our cotton dresses as they are so easy to throw on and get ready quickly but look put together. Otherwise, jeans and a shirt with our sandals are my other go-to.
How do you shop?
ILONA: I am trying to only purchase something new when I really need it and most other purchases I make are second hand or vintage. I love the energy that finding something vintage brings. It’s a treasure hunt and more interesting to me than buying off a rack.
PETA: Shopping is a rare occurrence for me these days! My wardrobe is mostly Matteau with a few favourite vintage pieces collected over the years. I’m super conscious of shopping for only what I need, and living in a tropical beachside town means Matteau fills most of my wardrobe needs.
What are your go-to essentials in your closets?
ILONA: White Matteau shirt, black Matteau Relaxed Tailored Trousers, our A.Emery x Matteau Spargi sandals. It’s the perfect look for almost any occasion, depending how you style and wear it.
PETA: Vintage Levi’s with our Matteau shirts, our A.Emery x Matteau Spargi sandals and our Tiered Sundress.
What does ‘sustainability’ mean to you?
Sustainability to us is doing everything in our power to reduce our impact on the world. Our carbon footprint is the most obvious measure of this and is a project we are working through currently to entirely offset our carbon emissions as a whole business.
However, we are acutely aware that sustainability goes well beyond that. We are committed to discovering and learning as much as we can to make the best decisions we can for the earth, for our customers and our business. This is through the fabrics we use, the processes used in production, the partners we work with and the conditions that they work under. It’s how we educate our customers to buy, wear and care for our garments. We don’t subscribe to discounting and we structure our seasons to limit discounting by our retail partners as much as possible.
We are committed to our social and environmental responsibility throughout our business operations. These standards are fundamental to our values as a business and we strive to ensure we work with partners who share this commitment.
What considered fashion change can everyone make in order to make a difference to the planet?
If everyone began to create firm boundaries to only purchase new items from brands that are future focused and working to create the smallest footprint possible. Embrace the old! Vintage, pre-loved and re-sale have always been how we shop and what excites us. The mix of old and new always feels more interesting and we love patina and pieces with character.