Like a true northerner, Matthew Miller doesn’t mince his words. He’s nursing a pint in a pub opposite his studio and getting ruffled about the current political climate in the UK. “Youths from ethnic minorities are being demonised in the media and that really pisses me off,” says Matthew, originally from Stoke-on- Trent. He’s talking about the inspiration behind his current collection: the lives of post-conflict soldiers and the aftermath of war. “I started thinking about the next generation of British youngsters – who they are, what they did, what they stood for – and through them, I wanted to challenge the racist definitions suggested by certain organisations.”

Clearly, if you were expecting a discussion on mood boards and cottons, Matthew’s not your guy. His menswear is politically provocative. For AW13 he called for a revolution as a response to being screwed by Generation X, while anarchy and dystopia were AW14’s theme. When the rest of menswear was sending whitewashed tweed suits down the runway, Matthew stood out for what he had to say and how he said it – with beautiful clothes. This season, he has pulled apart the World War II “demob” suit and reassembled it. The patchworked silhouettes are rugged, the edges are raw and pieces are emblazoned with slogans reading “Anti”, “War”, “Social”, and “You”. He’s even enlisted army cadets to model in the campaign.

Matthew’s zeal for such topics was fostered by a childhood spent on an estate where opportunities seemed limited. But he spent his summers working at music festivals and began to realise that, as he puts it, “As you get out of your provincial area you start to see everything differently. From 15, I realised there was more than my estate. I didn’t want to be like everyone else – that guy who was born there, lived there and died there. I needed to do something else.” He headed to art school and eventually the Royal College of Art, graduating in 2009. The 33-year-old has since spent his career questioning his own collections and those who view them. When NEWGEN judges said they didn’t understand his work, he went away and pinned down his ideas. “I asked myself, ‘What gives me the right to sell clothes?’” he explains. “Because you have to have a philosophy; you’ve got to have a reason. For me, it’s about what clothes mean to me and what I think clothes are to the world.”

Text by Nazanin Shahnavaz