Matteau’s IIona Hamer On Staying Positive In A Pandemic

"What we're trying to do is just make people feel an emotional connection."

You’ve no doubt heard of Australian fashion darling Matteau. The brand, founded by sisters Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen in 2015, has become a firm favourite on the global fashion scene, regularly counting Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Georgia Fowler, Phoebe Tonkin and Camille Charriere as loyal customers.

The label, designed between Australia and New York, is renowned for creating minimal one-piece suits, interchangeable separates that are timeless and modern in their discerning simplicity, as well as dreamy cotton sundresses that will last season after season. Even a brand rooted in its ageless ethos has had to grapple with the ever-changing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting both how it communicates with loyal customers and how it operates. 

Speaking with Hamer as part of marie claire’s involvement in the We Wear Australian initiative, the brand’s messaging remains one of positivity. “Similarly to the way that it’s affected a lot of brands, I’m sure, we had to think pretty quick and make some educated predictions”, says Hamer. “I mean, for the first week we were really taking it on a day-by-day basis.”

“This is going to just change things or change the way people shop, change the way people consume. I think it all needs to slow down and become more thoughtful.” 

While the Matteau team have pieces that were waiting to be dropped as part of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in 2020, the attitude has always been to create collections that aren’t bound by the seasons. 

“It’s just thinking about making a really good product that people are going to connect with and making it responsibly. And I think sustainability is non-negotiable,” Hamer says. “We’ve been working towards that. I mean, essentially the business is more about just buying good quality, simple things when you need them. But on a further level, all of our fabrics, all our suppliers, everybody is a sustainably certified source.” 

“My sister Peta is my business partner in Matteau. Shes an incredible woman and I am so lucky to be able to work with her. There is nothing she cant do and to be able to have a family business is a really special thing.” (Credit: Supplied.)

As for how the brand communicates with its customers, Hamer says its always been about creating uplifting, inspiring content to escape into. 

“It’s about a mood,” she says. “It’s about trying to take people somewhere warm and it’s an escape in their head. We’ve been trying to focus on those things. We’ve been doing emails which are visual vacations, which we look at some of the great old books that we have in our archives. And we take pictures of them and send them to people in an email so that they get just something that is inspiring.” 

“What we’re trying to do, is just make people feel an emotional connection because that’s kind of the only approach. It’s the approach we’ve always had, but it’s an approach that feels very right at this time.” 

marie claire is supporting #WeWearAustralian, helping to shine a light on the Australian fashion industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Related stories