Taking Notes x Mozhdeh Matin
At different points during my conversation with Mozhdeh Matin, she tilted her laptop camera to show me her dog, a closer view of a painting that I’d admired in her living room, and a glimpse of the beach out her window. The views in and from Matin’s home are filled with unpretentious joy and visual nuance. Matin, the founder and designer of Mozh Mozh, imbues her collections with similar traits.
Based in Peru and developed with local artisans, Mozh Mozh pieces are entirely made from Peruvian textiles—often cotton and Alpaca yarn. Each season, Matin works closely with weavers and knitters to create new palettes and patterns for Mozh Mozh’s unique, colourful garments and accessories.
Having connected during spring 2021, Matin and I compared notes on experiencing the pandemic in Lima and Toronto, respectively. Prior to our call, Matin was picking up groceries for a friend and we spoke about the strangeness of “normal” experiences in abnormal times. The conversation pivoted to lighter topics and I also learned about Matin’s love of textile experimentation and sky blue, and her ardent dislike of blue jeans.
When did you last leave the house and where did you go?
I went to the farmer’s market this morning to buy some food for a friend that has Covid.
What’s the last object you encountered that gave you cause for pause?
I went to the Inca market on Saturday. I saw a lot of beautiful things there but this one painted ceramic mermaid was really pretty. I took a photo of it at first, but then I decided to buy it. A treat.
What effect has the pandemic had on your creativity?
It's been good and bad. Being locked down and not able to go out has been hard. I like to feel the energy of society and the lack of community has been weird. One good thing is that since my studio is in my house, I was still able to make a new collection and review my textile archive.
-the last selfie saved on your phone*
What sources (art, film, writing, friends, Instagram accounts, etc.) do you turn to when you feel sapped of inspiration?
Mainly music. I like EDM and I’ve gone back to some classics and made nostalgic playlists for myself. During the pandemic, I’ve returned to music that I haven’t listened to in ages like Aphex Twin.
Do you have a person in mind while you’re designing?
My work is mostly based on designing textiles and choosing colours so when it comes to silhouettes, I try to ask myself: What do you want to wear next season? What feels comfortable? Sometimes I’ll go through my closet, or my mom’s or friends’ closets, to get inspired. I like pieces that are easy to wear, because I think textiles and colours already offer a lot. So to answer your question, I don’t usually think about a specific person but more about what will make people feel comfortable more generally.
Who is the first person you want to share a new idea or project with?
I usually don’t have a specific person in mind, but I will share new pieces with friends. I like to see different friends wear the same thing and to hear if it’s comfortable and to notice how they might wear the same item differently. I’m very open to people telling me if something’s weird or nice or maybe both.
- the last image of your neighbourhood saved on your phone*
What textiles or textures do you most like to feel on your body?
I wear a lot of cotton. I dream of silk, but we don't have it here in Peru. We only get vintage silk. So in my dreams I wear silk, but in real life mostly cotton.
A lot of Mozh Mozh pieces are made with locally woven cotton, right?
Yes, I work with weavers and knitters who live in different communities around Peru. Basically everything is handmade and we usually work with cotton and alpaca yarn, which are both from here. We don't import any materials.
I love alpacas!
- the last image of your neighbourhood saved on your phone part 2*
Have you picked up any weird snacks, diversions, or vices during the pandemic?
I don’t know how weird this is, but my friends recently made fun of me for using tahini and lemon on everything I eat. I like both flavours on everything—fruit salads, anything from the oven, I’m happy.
As far as vices go, that sounds pretty healthy. Are there any textiles, garments, or looks that you're sick of seeing right now?
I can’t stand blue jeans.
What about them?
I think they take some of the beauty of dressing away. Even though I know jeans can be worn with a lot of different looks… personally, I can’t. [laughs] Four years ago I had a birthday party and I remember that I’d just started dating this guy. I like to make my birthdays thematic—usually everyone has to watch a movie and dress to match it. That year it was Daisies, which is a really cute girly movie. The guy I was dating showed up in a pair of blue jeans and I was like get out of here!
- the last image of a snack you saved on your phone*
Fair! Or at least good to find out early. On the flipside of blue jeans, are there any textiles, garments, or looks that you'd like to see more of?
I adore when brands create their own textiles with their local communities. It’s my favourite thing to see because the results are usually so fresh and magical.
Are there any brands that you’re especially excited about right now?
Well I like Lee’s brand of course! And I like Tigra Tigra and what they are doing with silk. Also Super Yaya and Kiko Kostadinov. I love how all of these brands experiment and change how people see materials.
I’m noting the brands you’ve mentioned also share a strong sense of playfulness or fun.
Yes, exactly! Fun is so refreshing.
- the last outfit photo saved on your phone*
“Fun” is a silly word, but I think it's an underrated force.
Exactly, we need that energy!
You’ve already mentioned Daisies, but are there any other television shows or films that you’d like to borrow costumes from?
Any Pier Paolo Pasolini or Sergei Parajanov movies. The other day I was thinking about the theatre of Pasolini and he had the most amazing costumes.
I'm picturing lavish textiles and rosy, orangey-red tones.
Yeah, it’s super rich.
- the last image of an artwork saved on your phone*
Tie-dye or tartan?
Linen or PVC?
Oh, good question! It’s like that rubberized, high-gloss synthetic fabric—I think of early Vivienne Westwood pseudo-bondage gear.
Oh yes, okay I chose linen.
- the last image of a landscape you saved on your phone*
Chainmail or taffeta?
What is the most overrated part of working in the fashion industry?
I think there are a lot of misconceptions. When I was younger, I didn’t want to study fashion because I thought it was superficial, but my image of the industry and of working with textiles was limited by exposure to stereotypes. In the end I decided to study fashion anyway and I told myself that I would approach it in my own way. And I guess that’s still kind of my goal.
Sorry, I am going to open a window. Maybe you can see the beach in the distance?
Wow, it looks beautiful.
You saw a little bit of Peru. But anyway, what was I saying… oh yeah, what is overrated in fashion? Everything. [laughs]
- the last image of your neighbourhood saved on your phone*
What is the most underrated part of working in fashion?
All the work. All the nasty work we do. I think sometimes there’s an assumption that it’s entirely creative and developing cool new ideas, but it’s really hard work.
I believe it! Do you have a dream collaborator?
Wow, someone asked me about this the other day and I wasn’t sure, but I’ve thought about it and it’s Walter Van Beirendonck. He’s one of the Antwerp Six and an amazing designer. I think it would be very fun to collaborate with him one day.
What is something you’d like to learn in the upcoming year?
So many things! I love studying, but I never have time. I wish I was studying now.
- the last image that made you laugh*
If you had the time, what would you be studying?
Earlier you described wanting to study fashion in your own way. How did you go about doing that?
Originally I studied fine arts but when I realized all of my work was with textiles, I wondered if I should study fashion instead. When I shifted into fashion, I found that my fine arts base helped me maintain an artistic focus and gave me strength to find my own path. I’d never worked in the fashion industry before and we don’t have that classic idea of the fashion industry in Peru, so I had to figure a lot of things out for myself.
Can you tell me about your work developing new materials?
I’ve recently begun working with a community in the Peruvian Amazon to develop a new natural rubber as an alternative to animal leather. I’m excited because I’ve always been obsessed with leather but I didn’t want to use it in my brand. In the 21st century, I just don’t think we should be working with so much leather anymore, so I hope I can find another material that is natural and equally interesting.
- the last image of the moon saved your phone*
That sounds very cool. Is this natural leather you’re working on a material you imagine using for garments and accessories?
It’s actually a super-thin natural latex and we’ve made two versions of it so far. The last one was from Fall ‘21, which we made in two colours and the thin-ness makes it almost translucent, which looks nice. The material is still in the lab and we’re exploring how to preserve it and make it better. I think there’s a lot of potential.
Earlier you mentioned the importance of colour in your design process, but I’m curious what is your favourite colour to wear?
Sky blue. I don’t wear it often but I love it! I wear a lot of white and black, but sky blue is super special.
My final question is what is your favorite part of your work?
My favourite part is seeing what the weavers have developed. The way I work is fifty-fifty. I share a material and a concept with them and then they do whatever they want, so it’s really exciting to see what they create. Lately they’ve shared their work via photos online, but before the pandemic I would go see the weavers or they’d visit me and I’d see samples in person. We’re actually creating the textiles together and that part is the most exciting to me.