Fashion designer: Matthew Maltas talks about his recent success

Written by on 3rd November 2019

Matthew Maltas is a local fashion designer, studying at the University of Sunderland. He is a third-year student and has already began his career by collaborating with Port Independent. I spoke to Matthew Maltas about the inspiration behind his designs and what’s next?

First of all, I want to say congratulations on this collab with Port Independent. It’s super exciting, especially for someone who hasn’t graduated yet. How does it feel?

Very good! I was expecting it to go well but this is pretty special. I’m dead happy with how it’s gone!

How long did it take from designing to production? Especially with you still being In Uni, talk me through the process.

It started back in early Summer because they (University) said to us, “go away, get a work placement. Get a feel for the industry. Go about it however you want to go about it.” I got in contact with quite a few companies, the likes of Berghaus, END – the big ones that I really want to work for, but I knew of this place (Port Independent) and I thought well they are a local company. They’ve got a lot of potential and they are still in that early stage, so it would be really great if I could get in with them. I got in contact with Port Independent over Facebook and Gerard, who I managed to do the collaboration with, he got back to me and gave me all of the information: the history of the company. From there it kind of went on. It’s been quite a lengthy process.


Is everything locally sourced?

Yeah everything is locally sourced. The guy who printed everything, Joe McFadden works for a company called ‘Merch B***H’. He is based just over
the water. It’s a company who prints for Sunderland AFC. He (McFadden) has a print lab in the same building as them (Merch B***H). He sourced the T-Shirts for us and obviously the store (Port Independent) is in Sunderland and I have lived in Sunderland all my life – all Sunderland based. It’s a home-grown collaboration is what we called it!

We had a look at the designs of the tops and spoke about what inspired the designs…

So, the ‘the view from the watch house’ design, I said before it reminds me of an Indie album cover. I want to know who and what inspired the style.

Well that particular one was definitely derived from an Arctic Monkey’s lyric because they are definitely my favourite band. They’ve got a song called ‘The view from the afternoon’ so that’s where the name came from, but this building is actually on Roker sea front. It’s actually the watch house that’s used to see ships coming and going out to see if there are any problems at sea. There’s actually a guy in there with a telescope and he looks out and records the day-to-day activities – what’s going on in the ocean? It’s fantastic, again a building in Sunderland. It’s just a name that was derived from an album cover.

What’s the ‘Horrific Laboratory’?

That’s actually based on Sunderland University’s very own fab lab. When I went in and made the image it did look quite dark, with it being black and white. It’s almost like one of those optical illusion, so it does look a bit gothic and a bit strange. That was the idea behind that one!

That’s my favourite one: ‘I’m sorry for how bleak this looks’. What inspired that one?

That one is actually the Stadium of Light.

Is it?

Yeah! That one is actually the Stadium of Light but obviously it’s been flipped and edited so much and again when the image came out – I just kind of work and work and work to get it to the point where it’s acceptable. Eventually it got to that point and I was just very happy with it, but I thought “that looks bleak” so I put that on there.


That’s just the streets around my back lane but again the images have been flipped and inverted. There were more designs previous to this – this was not five minutes and it was done; this took weeks and weeks of doing one image, then that not working. I have had to reimagine it, rework it – so this one was actually the last one made. This one did take the longest to be fair, it was quite hard to get right. But again, flipping and inverting it and then putting the colour into it. We did a couple of black and white and a couple of coloured ones – I think this was the way to do it.

They are very original I have got to say I do very much like them. They are very “Indie” though so I’m guessing that’s the targeted audience?

Well ‘Port Independent’ the clues in the name and any young person in Sunderland – that’s what they do! We have Independent nightclub in town and that’s where I have been going since I was 18 with all of my friends. We all listen to that music and we all have that style about us so creating work in that vein has always been what I wanted to do.

Do you have anything planned next? Other than graduating…

Catch up on Uni work, that would be the best place. See how this goes and hopefully I will get the chance to work with Gerard again!

The tops are available to buy now in Port Independent! They aren’t online yet – this is currently an in-store exclusive, but we’ll see how it goes and they may end up online!


By Charlotte Lightfoot

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