Menswear Monday: Matthew Miller

Published April 21, 2014

There’s more to menswear than suits and ties. Every other Monday, we’re giving the fastest developing facet of fashion the attention it deserves and introducing the designers, buyers, trendsetters, and stylists you need to know.

The banners that models carried down the runway in Matthew Miller’s Fall 2014 show were sending mixed messages. One walked out with the simple, sentimental “love;” another bore the dystopic “rent life;” another announced “build new utopia”—more hopeful, but still eerie.

Most of Miller’s collections feel vaguely like manifestos. His clothes are futuristic, but his outlook is not totally optimistic. “Menswear is historically linked to war,” he reminds us, and the imminent conflict in his collections, as he sees it, is that of “the technological versus the traditional.” This clash comes out in a pair of pants haphazardly patched together from a hundred small pieces of high-tech performance fabric, or a Savile Row suit wrapped head-to-toe in digital prints. He’s both afraid that the Internet era spells the death of revolutionary art, and also excited by the transcontinental tribes—of the politically and sartorially likeminded—that have formed online.

His work has certainly struck a chord. “Last season was incredibly well-received,” he tells us, “and seems to have reverberated around the world.” Whatever that says about the oncoming apocalypse or the brave new online world that awaits us, we’ll leave for Miller to figure out.

DESIGNER: Matthew Miller

BASED IN: London

TRADEMARKS: Social design, and the re-appropriation of art iconography for the people. I don’t understand the super-extreme luxury industry—I don’t really see any value in diamonds, gold or things like that. That’s why I wrote my own design philosophy and applied that to every garment that I make. Instead of putting my name in every garment like old luxury, I mark every garment with an Art Reference—”Untitled, Mixed Media, Dimensions Variable.” I mark under the two M’s to initial the piece, like a craftsman. I see the garment as being a person’s canvas, and what that person does in the canvas adds an inherent value that no luxury can ever imitate.

ORIGIN STORY: I’ve always drew from my imagination and real life characters as a kid. I used to take a pen and pencil with me everywhere I went. I even remember sitting in the local working man’s club for hours drawing all the various characters. A misspent youth, of sorts. This naturally evolved into inventing really weird dark characters that I built a whole background story to. When I left school, I actually didn’t know what I wanted to do. I never thought—or was advised—that you could make a career from the arts. So I spent a few years living in the back of a truck working the shows, enjoying an incredible sense of freedom and getting into trouble. Then one day I just decided to go to art college, and here I am now.

EARLY INFLUENCES: I was a massive Mickey Mouse and Star Wars fan as a kid—I collected anything and everything I could find. I was fanatical. I started designing Mickey Mouse products from the age of about eight—there’s something about merchandise that I still find fascinating.

CHARACTER STUDIES: I started off building characters. The characters would define the clothes they wore—their backgrounds, their loves, hates, and social structures. Now the designs are far more informed by a design philosophy and a sense of value in people, their environment, and everything that is in a constant state of flux around them. People inspire me—their lives, their sense of freedom or lack of it. For F/W 2014, I asked 10 different men to write anonymously how they felt. I then used excerpts mixed with anarchic paraphernalia to create masculine emotional anarchy—something that is suppressed in modern society, hence the disproportionate suicidal rates in young men.

DIGITAL NATIVE: In a nutshell, technology has allowed masculinity to form “global tribes.” We are no longer suppressed by topography and micro-environments. We have found a new sense of digital freedom and there is no going back.

FUTURE OF MENSWEAR: Owning your own drone. Wearable life support systems. Retina cameras. Biological organic fabrics. Singular material products. Product re-generation. Printing your own garments. Micro friction fibers that capture your energy to power your technology. Fiber regeneration systems. Mineral mining colonies on the moon. Environment reactive sole units. Nike Air mags. Hover boards. Light bending textiles (The new camo—big trend in S/S45). Robot chic. Computer chic. Chic chic. Smart arms. Smart farms and finally wearable catalytic convertors will be normcore.

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