Inspiration strikes unexpectedly. Sometimes, it’s a quiet moment in the student parking lot. When Myles Hamilton (12) saw Lila Flowers (12) wearing a pair of Ray-Ban Round Metals more than a year ago, it was the beginning of an ambition that would shape his future.
“I wanted [the Ray-Bans] because they were really trendy at the time … I told both of my parents they should get them for Christmas, so I ended up with two pairs of the same sunglasses,” Hamilton said. “I sold one and put that money toward a the Dior Composit 1.0s, which were around $400.”
Hamilton cut back on gas money to buy more shades. But the high price of high-end sunglasses, coupled with a desire to rebrand himself, led him to consider designing his own line. In the summer of 2015, he sat down and drew a pair of sunglasses.
“I fit the sunglasses to something that I would want … I just put it all together in one drawing,” Hamilton said. “I felt stupid because I was sitting there, I had drawn it for three hours, and I was thinking to myself, ‘How are sunglasses even made?’”
One YouTube video on the manufacturing process, one freelance engineer and one week later, Hamilton found himself with a design of his sunglasses.
“I gave [the engineer] all the information and the sizes,” Hamilton said. “He sent me a 360 degree wrap-around view of these sunglasses I had drawn the week before.”
In January, Hamilton took the blueprint file of the sunglasses and sent it to a manufacturer he had found. Within 24 hours, he had a response and put in an order for a sample, which took a week to arrive.
“I had the sample and I was looking at it, and I thought it was the weirdest thing,” Hamilton said. “I drew something, and all of a sudden it’s a piece in front of me. And at that moment, I said, ‘You need to pursue this.’”
So he took out a loan and placed the order. He created an Instagram account and website where people could reserve pairs of the sunglasses, which he named SKAR, pre-production. With that first model, his line, MYLES HAMILTON, was a reality.
“It’s called MYLES HAMILTON because I wasn’t going to look for some b——t reason to give it a name, and I kind of want my name to be out there,” Hamilton said.
As for SKAR, the name came from the idea that “if you have a scar on your skin,” it’s “obvious.” According to Hamilton, the SKAR model is not “typical.” They’re just like a scar on your face — “they’re going to stand out.”
“These are a mixture between a basic pair of Ray-Bans and a high-end pair of sunglasses in an accessible price point, not $15 at Urban Outfitters or $160 at Sunglass Hut,” Hamilton said.
“Everything about them is unique. It wouldn’t have made sense for me not to call them SKAR.”
Hamilton is excited to sell his sunglasses and confirm that there is interest in his line. At the time the Falconer went to press, he had around 50 reservations.
“When I launched it, the next day at school people were coming up to me [asking] ‘When can I buy your sunglasses?’” Hamilton said. “I’m not saying … ‘I’m super cool now, people want me,’ but when people found out about my line, it was an opportunity to talk to me about something actually interesting in lieu of small talk.”
Before he started his line, Hamilton another senior in high school. He planned to take the “traditional” route of finding a freshman roommate, getting a dorm and going to college — “the whole nine yards.” He’s on track to do that with one small change; as part of the Trojan Transfer Plan, he’ll attend community college in Santa Monica for a year before enrolling in the University of Southern California, but he plans to use the year to expand his line. He wants to get his sunglasses in stores and release a new collection; he chose a school in the Los Angeles in order to do so.
“I thought getting rejected from all these [colleges], and I’ve been given the opportunity from USC to do the transfer plan,” Hamilton said. “I have this year to really figure things out, and it’s changed the way I look at my future. Before, I was looking at it in terms of where are my grades, where am I getting into college, what am I doing after college. Now it’s just so much more open-ended.”
“Obviously, it would have to take off for [it to be my career],” Hamilton said. “It’s just something that’s cool as an 18-year-old because I’ve found a lot more respect for myself in doing this. I feel like I know so much more about supply and demand and how the resource industry works … I’ve learned more about real-world things.”
And SKAR is certainly a carefully crafted, “real-world thing.” One of the most important things to stress about SKAR, Hamilton said, is the level of consideration that has been put into it.
“These aren’t just throwaway, cheapo … they’re a piece,” Hamilton said. “I worked hard on them, I designed them, I’ve gone through so many numbers to figure out a price and I think I’ve finally landed on the zone where I think I can grab people regardless of what their budget is for a pair of sunglasses.”
Since that instance in the parking lot, Hamilton has had grand designs on his future. He now has a website to finalize, a line to manage, and a launch to complete. Next stop: Los Angeles.