Local GR shop, Clothing Matters, sells economically sustainable clothing

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Clothing Matters features attire with natural substitutes for popular synthetic textiles and free trade products. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez.
Clothing Matters features attire with natural substitutes for popular synthetic textiles and free trade products. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez.
Clothing Matters features attire with natural substitutes for
popular synthetic textiles and free trade products. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez.

By Victoria Thornton – Collegiate Staff

Many college students have learned about the environment since they first entered school and have been pushed to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

The healthy living lifestyle has been increasing in popularity over the years but for those who favor sustainability, fashionable clothing is limited. Clothing Matters, a local clothing store has undertaken this mission by providing Grand Rapids with toxin-free, pure and economically sustainable clothing that works well with a fashionable wardrobe.


Founded in 1996 by Marta Swain, Clothing Matters has provided a first rate collection of quality manufactured apparel for functional, stylish and budget-friendly economical clothing.

“Our clientele are not wealthy people,” Swain said. “It’s not a certain income but it is a diverse clientele, more diverse than we could ever imagine having the privilege of serving.”

Now in its 19th year, Clothing Matters continues its dedication to preventing pollution and conserving resources. The company has partnered with over 100 designers, such as TOMS and Yana Dee who are committed to the same practices.

Clothing Matters has mastered the balance between sustainability and fashion with a variety of clothing types.

“We’ll make it easier for you to get dressed, look better than you have to and be more comfortable than you have ever been,” Swain said.

Hemp, soy, bamboo, wool, recycled fibers and organic cotton are some materials used by Clothing Matters to support the local and global economy. While “going green” is nothing new to people around the world, Grand Rapids was named “America’s Greenest City” by Fast Company Magazine and is recognized by the U.S. Green
Business Council (USBC) as having the most Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings per capita as of Fall 2014.

To read more about Grand Rapids’ sustainable efforts, visit experiencegr.com.

Because Grand Rapids is specifically familiar with economical improvement, Swain and her company continue to flourish with a clientele of all ages including the college community.

“I’ve got so many compliments on things I’ve bought from Clothing Matters,” said Meg Treiber, Grand Rapids Community College student and frequent Clothing matters shopper. “You can modify anything here to the way that you dress because so many pieces are versatile and they are so comfortable that my pajamas are the same as my work clothes.”

The apparel at Clothing Matters is high in variety including headbands, jewelry, shoes, tops, and more. There is a large selection of men’s and women’s apparel. Everything in the store is aimed to serve three, if not four seasons.

Danielle Haik, four year employee and 14-year customer explains the importance of her employment.

“I am very passionate about the earth and our bodies,” Haik said. “Working in a community that I live in to support local businesses is very important. I tell people to come play dress up with me. I love clothes. When I was younger I changed my clothes like 5 times a day.”

Haik favors her Indigenous Designs sweaters from Clothing Matters for the amount of compliments she receives and seasonal versatility. Indigenous sweaters are fashionable and ethically made from organic cotton or Alpaca fleece. Indigenous Designs participates in organic, fair-trade fashions.

The goal of Swain and her team of associates is to educate the public on the amount of toxicity in clothes and send customers home with sustainably manufactured apparel that looks and feels good. Clothing Matters has achieved this goal as the shop continues to thrive even after it’s 19 years of business, receiving multiple awards throughout the years like the Townie Award for Best Clothing Store and a Green Champion Award.

To learn more stop into Clothing Matters, located at 141 Diamond Ave SE, Grand Rapids or visit the website at clothingmatters.net.