Interview
Fashion Speaks

Matthew Miller

Meet the menswear designer doubling up as the voice of a generation

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@LibertyLondon

New to Liberty London for Autumn/Winter 2017, Matthew Miller is a menswear designer whose intelligent work transcends the fashion landscape to exist in a world where politics, environmental issues and progressive design go hand-in-hand. The result is relevant, stripped back utilitarian pieces – characterised by Miller’s fascination with fabrics, identity and political ideology. As we welcome the designs to our newly refurbished menswear space on LG, we paid Miller a visit at his east London studio to find out what makes him tick.

You’re originally from Stoke-on-Trent, what inspired the move to London?I had finished my BA at Manchester Metropolitan University and had been offered a place at the Royal college of Arts to study MA menswear straight after.

Have you always been interested in fashion design? I have always been interested in identity and the projection of one’s identity through the garments we wear. Everyone, whether they choose to or not, is engaging with fashion or with anti-fashion.

Matthew Miller
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What were your influences early on?I think any designer or artists’ influences develop as they mature. During my art foundation course in Stoke-on-Trent, I was interested in club culture - it was the early noughties and northern club culture was booming. As I went to Uni this developed into a much deeper and darker political ideology and this only got deeper into my MA. I think there is still an underlying political choice in all designers’ actions, from the choices of materials through to the manufacturing processes we choose to utilise. All choices in modern day society are now political.

Matthew Miller
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And where do you find inspiration today?Everywhere really, I love to travel and to see art exhibitions - I also collect a lot of books. I spend a huge amount of time in fabric and material research and development.

What’s your starting point when designing a new collection?I spend about a week in the library using an old school photocopier to take a scan of things I find inspiring for the season’s mood wall. There’s something really beautiful about the imperfections you get from an old photocopier and there is something really nice about the smell and weight of the paper as the machine processes the copy. I then start to add in fabric swatches to get a tactile sense of the weights of drape of the garments. This is really important for design as the materials and their composition will define what we can achieve with fit and detail.

Matthew Miller
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Is there a certain attitude or feeling you hope to evoke from the wearer?I always try and put a certain attitude into the collection, whether it be aggressive or add a certain romance to the look.

Can you tell us about your creative process?It’s a really hard thing to put down in a formula to be honest - sometimes I dream details and garments and have to write them down first thing in the morning! Other times it’s very straightforward and it’s a scribble in a notepad for an idea, or on a napkin at dinner. Inspiration can come from everywhere really!

How does life change in the run-up to a show?Life completely stops in the run up-to the show, the two weeks before we literally work every day and every hour we possibly can. In no other creative industry do you have to redefine and re-present a body of work every six months. That’s what makes the fashion industry such a hard industry to crack. It’s very intense and every person in the world has an opinion on it. But on the other hand, every six months you get to redefine yourself and evolve!

Matthew Miller
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Your work often takes a political stance – was this your original intention?At the time it was something that no one else was doing to be honest. I think during the noughties my generation became completely complacent and non-politicised. I knew that would change with the much younger generation and started to incorporate that in my work. I remember after one collection, Autumn/Winter 2012 “Born to fail” – the words of a generation - a very narrow-minded fashion reporter wrote in a review that I should get off my soapbox! I found it very funny because 12–18 months later all fashion publications had changed the way they spoke to their readers and also became very politically aware. This is the future, a political and environmentally aware generation.

How long have you been in your current studio? We have been here for three years. I really do love east London - the parks are great.

Matthew Miller
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How much time do you spend here?Every working day really, unless I’m travelling for work that is. I also like to travel at the weekends if at all possible. I really enjoy exploring new parts of the country (well, new to me anyway) and seeing new things. Travel is food for the soul.

Are you influenced by your environment?I think as time goes on the environment and environmental issues become second nature to my design decisions and me.

What are your thoughts on the current menswear landscape?I think menswear is exciting at the moment - there are a lot of great designers out there.

And the future of menswear?Who knows, I think it will turn away from traditional classic brands, as these have now become more like dad brands - and no one really wants to wear their dad’s brands do they?

How would you describe the modern Liberty London man?Classically Modern.

Can you share a Liberty London memory?I first went to Liberty London during Christmas and it’s probably one of the most magical places to visit during this period. No other department store can do Christmas as well.

Matthew Miller
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