All About Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller made in Stoke on Trent

Matthew Miller AW16
Matthew Miller AW16

‘I was a small boy growing up on a council estate without a care in the world’, remembers Stoke-on-Trent born Matthew Miller. ‘Summer holidays were long and hot. All the kids got together and created absolute chaos. It was great – pure unadulterated freedom’. Miller’s halcyon days were set against political and social conflicts unfolding in late 1980s Britain, felt most acutely in his Staffordshire hometown when the collapse of the long-established ceramics industry caused mass unemployment. Miller graduated with a Masters in menswear from the Royal College of Art in 2009. Since his Fashion East MAN debut shortly after, he has been exploring clothes worn as political statement and serving as tools for protest. As the designer explains, ‘The only thing that captures the chaos we call life, are the clothes we live in. Frayed, ripped, battered and torn, they act as a canvas that represents our existence’.

While travelling across the UK during his college foundation, Matthew Miller says he fell into fashion, assembling outfits to wear in the clubs he visited come nighttime. His first interest had been fine art. to this day he finds inspiration in the works of past and contemporary masters. In the months leading up to his Autumn/Winter 2016 show, visitors to the National Portrait Gallery may well have been oblivious to a young man wearing headphones drifting from oil painting to marble bust. It was here that Miller set the starting point for this season’s collection. Classicism scored to a soundtrack of heavy metal.

‘I’m influenced by a plethora of things. I love and collect army clothing and this impacts my design a lot’. Back at his East London studio, Matthew Miller and his small core team of four collage assorted influences and develop collections with multi-layered messages. These are worn best by the designer’s model mercenaries come LC:M. This season’s luxurious fatigues include woollen suits cuffed with militia armbands. Fringed dress scarves accessorise tailored coats, all held in place with rough leather belts. Army green nylon sit next to frayed canvas painted by hand. The motif is a grouping of Baroque masterpieces by Caravaggio.

Matthew Miller graduated from Central Saint Martins in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. He started his namesake brand as a brave reaction to a lack of fashion houses hiring recent graduates. Six years after its launch, brand Matthew Miller is stocked globally and sold via the designer’s website. While his collections are on London’s menswear schedule, his shows feature select looks for his female shoppers. By way of the traditional garment label, items are signed ‘Untitled, Mixed Media, Dimensions Variable’. In addition, every item bears a written description of Miller’s design philosophy hidden from first sight. It is this mindful approach to his craft that ranks Miller among the most cerebral designers of his generation. In his own words, Miller is, ‘the bastard love child of Marcel Duchamp and Helmut Lang.’

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Matthew Miller : ‘I think my favourite look was at the age of 15, my fifth year at St. Thomas More High School. It was a full champagne Adidas twin set with navy blue stripes down the arms and legs. And I did not stop there! I matched these with the corresponding Adidas Campus trainers and T-shirt. A uniform of sorts.’

Something About COLLECTING

Matthew Miller : ‘My top five style items from the late 1990’s were Adidas Galaxy trainers, adidas popper tracksuit bottoms, a New York Yankees track jacket, Clarks Wallabees and a Mickey Mouse sweater. I used to collect Mickey Mouse stuff!’

Something About BUSINESS

Matthew Miller : ‘Menswear in London hasn’t changed in terms of design and its ability to say something about the now. It has changed in terms of designers being more clued-up about business. And if you look across the board, designers all have different business strategies. A lot more are going to a new own retail model, cutting out wholesale all together which is a big move away from tradition. And I think you’re going to see more and more of this.’

Story by: Felix Bischof

Fashion: Michael Darlington

Photographer: Dham Srifuengfung