Natural fibers, handcrafted fabrics and a strong contemporary look are some of the designs that make up the creative universe of Mozhdeh Matín. Determined to stimulate the revaluation of ethnic textile art, the designer has dedicated herself body and soul to visiting dozens of Peruvian communities to work together with the craftswomen and weavers on unique, value-added pieces that are today conquering the world's luxury shop windows.
Threads of life
She has always had a close bond with fashion. Ever since she was a little girl. Making her own clothes was a habit that was deeply rooted in her home, so living among scraps, threads and molds was always an everyday occurrence for her. This fact formed, in part, her conviction to create pieces that break the mold of superficial and everyday things.
She first pursued a degree in visual arts in Bolivia. For this reason, when seeing her work, it is impossible to not see the artistic power emulating from her collections. While working on projects given to her by teachers, she realized that most of her tasks had the same starting point: “Almost all my work involved textiles,” she says. Mozhdeh returned to Lima with her mind set on studying fashion. And so she did.
By 2008 the young artist's talent was already beginning to be heard in the local industry. That same year, Mozhdeh entered the Young Creators competition at Peru Moda, an event that shows the world the best of Peruvian design, not knowing that from this experience she would find the ethical and ethnic factor that today is the spirit of her brand.
“It was motivated by PROMPERU. One of the rules of the contest was that designers had to work with alpaca fiber. From then on I discovered a whole textile universe that I could work on and that I had neglected until then (although I was already curious). Peru Moda was the push I needed. I discovered a whole textile universe and began to work only with alpaca cotton. I traveled throughout Peru and went deeper into the work of the weavers,” explains the designer.
Mozhdeh's admiration for the work of the weavers was always present thanks to the closeness that came from growing up in Cajamarca (where her parents, Iranian by birth, made their home). But it was by virtue of this competition – which she also happened to win – that she got the opportunity to meet – and work – much more intimately with many other women who keep the age-old techniques of their ancestors alive. “After winning the contest, I held my own fashion show the following year . Then I started to travel and look for communities I could create with. That's how it grew,” she says.
The years, the trips and the desire to continue experimenting have led her to work side by side with communities in the highlands and the Amazon of Peru. At present, these are located in Cajamarca, Huancavelica, Puno, Puerto Maldonado and also in Lima, where she works with a group of craftswomen from Villa El Salvador, Puente Piedra and San Juan de Lurigancho.
Quality design: the origin of Mozh Mozh
The key to success is to never stop learning and to never stop taking risks. Mozhde's sure about that. In 2015, after completing an internship with textile artist Liz Collins which led her to move to New York, the designer decided to create Mozh Mozh, a luxury brand that today is known internationally as a leader in slow fashion.
“Since I started out, I've enjoyed visiting the communities and learning about the cultures we have. All this visual and textile richness has always fascinated me quite a bit. Consulting and collaborating with craftspeople and then exporting it is exciting for me,” she adds.
It didn't take long for the brand to leave Peruvian soil to be showcased at one of the most influential events in the industry: New York Fashion Week. It was thanks to this experience that Mozhdeh's work found a new direction: the international market. For this, the designer says she underwent intensive preparation, both in administrative and logistical issues. The challenge was to captivate buyers, and thanks to the distinctive value of their garments, they succeeded.
“We have been creating audiences organically without any strategic plan. It has all been very much about intuition and confidence, about growing little by little with the greatest possible humility. The reception has perhaps been greater in countries where culture is much more highly valued. Japan, then America, Canada, Mexico and the USA. Anyone who values craftsmanship can really appreciate our work,” she explains.
A few months ago, the designer became a worldwide trend after the model Bella Hadid dazzled at Milan Fashion Week wearing a shiringa leather suit made by Mozh Mozh. Matín doesn't hide her excitement about this feat and reveals that she was very proud of the fact that she chose, in particular, this outfit, since her brand is the only one using this material in garments.
“Shiringa [liquid extracted from the Hevea Brasiliensis trees that grow in the Peruvian Amazon] is a material that Mozh Mozh has experimented with and is proposing as an alternative to leather. It is a material that identifies the brand a lot, we are the first clothing brand to work with it and we are promoting it in the world as a sustainable leather alternative made in Peru,” she explains.
The other face of the crisis
For this year, Mozhdeh had planned two business trips abroad and the production (and subsequent shipment) of pieces from her autumn/winter 2020 collection to her exclusive clients abroad. Today everything is on standby, the health crisis that the world is facing because of COVID-19 has forced the designer – and her team spread over the three regions of Peru – to prioritize health and put pending deliveries on hold.
But this doesn’t mean there is any time to stop and relax. She is making the most of this time to give shape to what will be their spring/summer 2020 collection. In addition, from a very precious collection of pieces that Mozhdeh treasures like gold, since they are made from pieces that date from her first to her most recent collections, she has started fabricating beautiful face masks. One set has been donated to health professionals and another is being sold through their platforms at a very affordable price. “I want everyone to be able to have them,” she says.
Recently, Matín participated in the Manos a la obra virtual auction, where a range of Peruvian designers participated and offered their work to help improve opportunities for three artisan associations: Artesanías Arte Sur Chincha (Ica), Asociación de Artesanos Bordadores Valle del Colca (Arequipa) and Arte Awajún from Comaina river communities (Amazonas). According to Mozhdeh, the event met all her expectations.