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SpiltMilk Campaign 2018, Mattia Holm


Words By Natsumi Amano

Photography by Mattia Holm

How did your personal journey lead to the creation of SpiltMilk Eyewear?

Growing up in New York, I have always been fascinated by how people dress, but much more so by the way people express themselves through styling. I have always had a dream of having my own brand, which then led me to study luxury womenswear. After I graduated in 2014, I was trying to figure out where I wanted to be in the fashion industry. I tried everything from designing shoes and handbags at Sam Edelman, created costume apparel for a few celebrities. One day, I was sitting on the train and I saw this woman. She was a beautiful woman with these glasses that were so well made, but they did not fit her face properly. So, it immediately struck a nerve in my head, “There must be a way to create luxury eyewear that fits a person’s face like it is meant to be!”. My idea was to create something that can be adjustable to any type of face because people share the same taste in eyewear, but they do not share the same face sizes. It started a conversation about diversity, inclusion, and creating a platform that anyone can be a part of.

Around that time, I consulted my now-business partner to help him build his own brand. This partnership led us to co-create SplitMilk eyewear. Where does the brand name come from, you may ask? When we were in pre-production and we were sampling and packaging, we had almost five different names, different packaging, and the like. I had an epiphany, telling me “I hate it. I hate it all. It is not cool. It is not compelling. We need to change!” I was frustrated that it was not going where I wanted it to be. Then, my business partner would always tell me, “Judge, relax, don’t cry over spilt milk. It is fine.” And it hit me,“That’s it! It’s Spilt Milk!” It became not only the name but also the foundation of our brand; it is to inspire people not to be caught in the past, but to live in the moment.

As I researched more, I started to realize who our customers are. They are not afraid to be the center of attention, they are a person that may not feel as confident, but when they put the glasses on, they are ready to conquer the world. So, we wanted to create that platform where people would feel safe and comfortable and be the best version of themselves. Then in January 2019, SpiltMilk Eyewear was born.

SpiltMilk Campaign, Mattia Holm

Where does the inspiration for the designs of the eyewear come from?

I have always had a defined point of view when it comes to designing. I know what I like. I was raised up and have lived in the melting pot, New York, my whole life, so I have been constantly influenced by people of all different cultures. My significant sources of inspiration are the different aesthetics that there are in New York City; the different prints, color, and its variety of designs.span>

A sense of humor and spontaneity are crucial elements of SpiltMilk, too.When I worked on the womenswear brand, it was very serious because I was creating this very deep story behind the collection. It put tremendous pressure on my shoulders and it simply made me sad that everything was black and maroon. On the contrary, for SplitMilk, I was living curiously, and I saw a sense of humor, lightheartedness to SpiltMilk. That pop of colors was a breath of fresh air. It shifted the narrative in my head that I was no longer designing for a woman wearing a black silk gown, and it was not as dark. It was more for a kid that was jumping on a flight, heading to Ibiza. That was who I really started to design for. It was so much fun! My business partner, he is that kid who jumps on a plane when he wants an adventure. He inspired me to tune in the energy of living in the moment, not in the past.

One of the most charming characteristics of our design is that the glasses could be adjusted to fit anyone’s face. If someone were to have a more narrow or a wider face, the frames can actually be adjusted to fit them as every frame is made out of the combination of malleable titanium and metal. We also have non-gender-conforming approaches to the brand. The brand embodies that regardless of who you are, you can choose to express yourself in any of the styles like you feel right in. That was how the inclusive platform was created.

The illusion of beauty is in the lens of the beholder.

What does sustainability mean to your brand?

Sustainability for us is about innovation, innovative thinking, and creativity. All of our frames are made from metal, so we send the leftovers back to the factory in order for us to repurpose them as car parts. As for the shipping, we have been exploring the possibility of making it as environmentally-friendly as possible. Since we are shipping overseas, it costs much greenhouse gas emissions and creates much waste and pollution. Indeed, we have been in talks with UPS about collaborating with them as they have gone green with a lot of their delivery methods. Making a more sustainable choice is not easy provided that there are many aspects and considerations that go into sustainability. This is definitely a challenge that I am looking to tackle.

When it comes to our supply chain, due to the fact that our frames are handmade in Japan, our production cost is quite high. We are paying our workers a decent amount. That way, we are trying to create a very strong foundation of production that will lead us into a further journey to be more ethical and sustainable.

On the other hand, I have also learned not to lose the brand’s voice over the efforts to go green. Sustainable products can be quite generic; usually, it is all beige and green. When I started working on the packaging, I was taking a sustainable packaging made from recycled paper into consideration. Our well-made packaging is made to be a collector’s item as a decorative element, encouraging our customers to not throw away the packaging. We wanted them to be colorful and funky like our products but to be honest, the options presented were limited, and it was quite boring. That was when I became more aware that I was doing everything I can to make the packaging more sustainable that I was leaning into this recycled brown cardboard to appear more sustainably-looking. I think you hit the nail on the head that it is important to keep the sense of a comfortable, fun aesthetic which is an essential part of the brand’s identity. I talked to my team that the brand should be sustainable, but we are not marketing the sustainability part.

We want to do the right thing even when nobody is watching.

What is the future of SpiltMilk?

There is not going to be a path-altering change to the brand anytime soon as of now, so I am probably going to keep designing and building the brand. As you know, you would not buy our frames if you are just someone who does not want to be seen. I would say that our customer has an influence on the world. They are not submissive. They are change-makers. They are genuine and authentic. They are who we make our glasses for.It is important for us to create a platform, where we can amplify voices that need to be heard. We would love to get on board with some of those influential activists involved in the Black Lives Matter initiative, for example, so as to give them the space to say what they have to say. We believe that youth is our future, so I would love to give opportunities perhaps by a form of a SpiltMilk scholarship to fund their projects from start to finish, or from conceptualizing, pre-production, prototype to color samples to pitching it to retailers. This is where I see SplitMilk is going.

I do not want our brand to be like other plain eyewear brands. We want to be a funky one, but I think there needs to be more to that. That is why I want to shift the direction in which we are taking in order to create something that makes you feel like a boss when you are wearing SpiltMilk. Once the frames are on your face, you will be the center of attention. Everyone will stare. You are a boss, so make sure everybody knows it. That is our goal and mission.

Shop SpiltMilk Eyewear

MAUI | Violet/Fade Violet

SARDINIA | Black/Yellow

MALDIVES | Silver/Silver