Standing out is pretty hard to do nowadays. It's all been put out there, done and dusted. But London-based menswear designer Matthew Miller stood out to me. His brightly printed suits were making the rounds on Tumblr and I took stock. Barely graduated from the Royal College of Art, Miller got plugs from Dazed, i-D, Hypebeast, Wonderland and every self-respecting London blogger. His uniqueness lies in his commitment to innovative technology and techniques, and how they relate to the human body. Take for instance his AW12 collection: Miller went around London to find unique patterns in the surroundings, digitally printed them on his garments and provided us with the exact geolocation coordinates of where the photo was taken. With the AW13 menswear mayhem just behind us, now was the perfect time to get to know this highly promising, self-described 'chav from Stoke-on-Trent' a little better.
Where does your love for technology stem from?
I've always been fascinated by technology, you have to remember I was a kid in the 80s when home computing was introduced. As a kid Nintendo and Sega opened up the juvenile mind to a world of vast technological understanding.
Your AW11 collection heavily featured carabiners and mountaineering influences, so did AW13 Louis Vuitton (I'm not implying anything).
Haha, yes that collection was very well received, and I've seen quite a few collections with similar inspirations. It’s quite funny that you should say that: in the SS12 collection I made jackets from technical sails and Margiela did exactly the same a few seasons later for their couture collection, as they did with the graffitti that I printed in the geolocations collection. I do think designers cross over and it’s not about stealing someone else’s ideas. We're all living in a world where we all consume the same information daily, of course we're going to be inspired by the same things.
Matthew Miller AW11
Louis Vuitton AW13
What kind of man do you design for?
I have one question that goes over and over in my head when I'm looking at a final product, and this one line decides if the idea is presented, shelved or re-worked. Quite simply: “Is it cool as fuck?” If it passes the “cool as fuck” test, then I’m happy.
Quite a few of your AW13 runway models had long hair. Was there any particular reason for that casting choice?
I just think it will be something we see more and more on young men in the next few years.
Matthew Miller AW 13
When do you feel 'born to fail'? What does that slogan mean to you?
It depends on when and what day you ask me. It’s an incredibly enpowering sentence! Depending on your attitude, depends on what you take from it. Some people find it depressing, others empowering and poetic. To me it means a million different things, I could write a whole PhD on that one sentence.
Who is your mentor? What is the most important lesson you learned from him/her?
I've met a few inspiring people in the last few years, stylists like Andrew Davis, who are so fun to work with, and incredibly informative. I enjoy working with buyers like Sam Lobban from Mr Porter: it’s incredibly important to have access to data that supports consumerism and demand for design, it helps to inform and support a designer's work. But I also like to work with the team at Hypebeast, generating interesting communications and the benefit of that is that you can see it being digested in real time and get an instant response.
What does your nan think you do?
Sadly she recently passed away. She was incredibly proud of what I had achieved. She was a great woman and a great inspirational figure in my life.
When last did you go back to Stoke-on-Trent?
I'm a big fan of my hometown. It has a hard time, to be honest. It’s run down, has mass unemployment and is rife with crime, but I love it. I love the people, the fact it never changes just ages ever so slightly. Hopefully in the future I could be involved the strategic re-planning of the city through design, innovation and recognition of heritage. We’ll see, I have a lot of ideas for the space and it’s something I feel incredibly passionate about.
Who is your favourite Belgian?
Leo Hendrik Baekeland, the materials inventor.
Where in London do you feel the most like yourself? And why?
Hackney Wick. It has vast empty spaces, is industrial and rough around the edges. It gives me time and space to myself, time to think.
When I say 'jump', you say...?
Who do you believe in the most?
I want to say myself, but that isn’t true. If it were true, I would develop one collection and never change it, as I believed in myself and my decisions. I suppose in that case I believe in the development of the human mind through continuous work and the on-going analysis of said work.
What wines are you favouring nowadays? Do you still swig a pinot grigio after cycling home like you once told Fantastic Man?
Haha, it depends on the weather and the situation, but yeah I still enjoy a glass of wine. Just as much as I enjoy a pint of lager, though.
What is your biggest goal for 2013?
To Stay Alive.
Matthew Miller recently did a collaboration with e-retailer Mr Porter, based on a few of his SS13 foil-printed looks. While we await full European distribution, this will have to do. It's all uphill from here!