Award-winning menswear designer Matthew Miller arrives in Australia

When London based menswear designer Matthew Miller won the International Woolmark Prize this year, taking home a tidy sum of $200,000, he chose Australia as his first global stop.

Making his official department store debut at David Jones a few months ago, Miller admits it's every designer's dream to be noticed abroad, and winning the coveted prize certainly opened the right doors.

While he might be a regular at London Fashion Week and stocked at Farfetch, Miller is still relatively unknown in Australia, but keen to change that.

"Without Woolmark, I wouldn't be able to enter the Australian market as confidently as I did," says Matthew Miller who has been designing since 2009 after graduating from the Royal College of Art in London.

"I think it's fair to say a lot of emerging designers would love to find a way into the Australian market because you love independent brands, so this is another tick for me," he says.

Technical aptitude

Best known for his modernist tailoring with a sportswear aesthetic, Miller creates pieces for the busy gent who wants luxury and needs his garments to handle four seasons in one day conditions.

There's plenty of outerwear options from bombers to trench coats, but he's strong on trans-seasonal knits with quirky detailing too. He approaches fashion like an industrial designer might come up with a new furniture design.

"Menswear has become all about core function," says Miller.

"When I design a collection every six months, I have to come up with solutions. Whether it's dealing with climate change or factoring in changing seasons, I need to find fabrics and form that fit a variety of scenarios. I am always chasing a new way to take menswear," he says.


Clothes for all seasons

Take his raincoat made from vulcanised wool as an example. The sporty overcoat is more than just a jacket equipped for rainy days – it is equally impressive with its multi-functionality.

"I use water resistant fabrics and recycled material for fastening rather than plastic," explains Miller.

"Elements of the coat can be taken apart so it can we worn as an accessory too," he says of the detachable cap and bag.

"It's about outerwear with a purpose. Nobody wants just a jacket anymore."

Fashionable future

Miller spends plenty of his time abroad seeking new innovative ways to use wool, specifically in Japan.

Keen to stay ahead of the curve, Miller is in conversation with Japanese printers who saturate dye bundles of pure white merino wool.

"It's about staying engaged with artisans around the world – and I am mostly finding them in Japan, just outside of Kyoto," he says.

"I have tapped into that and it's where I am taking the brand. They can dye pure white wool and I am loving printed wool and using it in my collections."

Ethical messages

But there's more to his bigger picture than meets a roll of fabric. Miller wants to create sustainable menswear line and be part of a materials revolution.

"I visit mills in Japan who recycle a lot of wool and it's our job as designers to avoid landfill. I want to choose better, will always focus on natural materials and those that don't affect the planet," he says.

Woolmark's Managing Director Stuart McCullough says wool is experiencing a renaissance thanks to consumer demand for sustainable fashion.   

"Sustainability is working in wool's favour," says McCullough.

"Gen Y and Z are mindful of where waste is going, but retailers generally don't talk about it," he says.

"It won't wash with these younger markets - they are too wise for that. They want to know if their products are biodegradable and steer away from products that don't break down.

"What Matthew Miller is doing is what younger generations want – and as they start to gain real spending power we'll see the industry adapt accordingly."