On the side of clothing designer Adam Mattingly’s refrigerator, is a multicolored letter magnet that reads, “OVERCOME THE NOTION THAT YOU MUST BE REGULAR. IT ROBS YOU OF THE CHANCE TO BE EXTRAORDINARY.”
As the vice-president of Reprolon-Texas, Mattingly is a world leader of recycled Teflon (an industrial plastic). He is a business man, negotiating trade deals by day, but outside of work, he is a brother who knows that finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is non-negotiable.
Mattingly is passionate in thought, word and action. He sits beside Dixie, a 12-year-old Springer Spaniel, and waits for pizza to bake in the oven. The jackets from Mattingly’s start-up company, Atom Willis, neatly hang on a metal rack near the sofa. Beneath their high-end exterior lies a history and purpose, rooted in well-being.
At 34, Mattingly’s sister, Katie Brass, was diagnosed with the neurological disease in 2005. She has since launched The Brass Family Foundation MS Research Fund, privately donating to head researchers of MS (based in San Francisco), aiding them in the ground breaking discovery that MS is environmentally contracted, rather than genetically inherited.
With the personal tagline “a war on MS,” and encouraged by his sister’s tenacity for change, Mattingly has promised a portion of the proceeds from every jacket sold to benefit MS research. “She didn’t inspire me to do the jackets, but she inspired me to do something that I loved,” he said.
Manufactured in Seoul, South Korea, under the assistance of Korean fur coat designer Julie Lee of JUKO, the lamb skinned outerwear comes pre-treated for water stains in three colors — camel, white or black wash — with two slim fit, unisex styles illustrating the classic ’70s aviator trend, and a modern version that features hole punched sleeves and a detachable hood, available in white and black. In their unique variety, all jackets include rabbit fur trim, grommet holes under the armpit for breathability, and a metal plated serial number that allows the item to stand tracked online if lost.
“I’m not saving any money by making them in Seoul versus the U.S.,” said Mattingly, who stresses its quality nature and honest work environment. Describing the citywide energy as “New York and Vegas combined,” Mattingly said he was first inspired on a business trip after seeing the statement “trust your crazy idea” written inside an elevator; thus encompassing his household atmosphere as a walking vision board. Now, these words shine brightly in the form of a neon lit sign,hanging on the greenhouse that overlooks Mattingly’s backyard pool.
Known as the “Think Tank” in this greenhouse-turned-apartment lives JoJo Macias, who with the words “Love, Hope, Faith” tattooed across his chest, is the face line of Atom Willis’ mission and Mattingly’s business partner.
“It all just came full circle,” said Mattingly, approaching Macias after seeing his online modeling portfolio. For a little more than a year, the duo have been busy marketing and promoting the line to both locally, nationally, and internationally known boutiques. “You get what you put into it,” said Macias, acting as the brand’s public relations and sales manager.
Fresh from a two-week venture, a Tumi luggage case waits by the front door. Inside, Macias carried four samples of merchandise, catering to buyers from San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.
Stemming from a fitness background, the young salesman embraces his ability to paint Atom Willis with the same natural charisma summarized with a smile. “People buy from people they like,” said Macias, elaborating on the jacket’s durability to withhold Seattle’s notorious pouring rain. Both he and Mattingly own personal pieces, acting as walking advertisements. “The whole point was to make an impression,” he said.
Therein, with the brand set to retail at Portland’s Threads Count, and trunk show in August at locally owned Edge Boutique, this impression has progressed into what’s sure be a loud statement of style and substance. “Essentially the jackets sell themselves,” he said, emphasizing their buttery soft, form fitting effect. “I’m just in between.”
He walks through a set of sliding glass doors, climbing steps leading to the “Think Tank.” Here, photographs of Macias’ family and a promotional shot for his band, The Artillery, decorate its chrome painted walls, while two guitars accompany Leroy, a life-sized mannequin outfitted in an Atom Willis hooded jacket. With a relaxed environment, this is the future setting of a makeshift company boutique, where consumers can book private consultations for personal fittings and browse the current 100-piece collection.
Outside, the signs “STOP MS” and “WE REPRESENT THE MODERN DAY HIPPIE” are painted on cardboard. Originally made for a photo shoot, the messages organically became part of a campaign entitled “Modern Day Hippie.” A moving art exhibit directed by aspiring film maker Christopher Samarripas, the documentary was posted under the Atom Willis YouTube channel on June 12, and has since garnered over 200,000 views. Also available, the full-length version cites interviews and commentary.
Featuring actress/musician Tina Rodriguez, with the talent of local shock photographer, John Paul Wilson, the documentary follows Rodriquez leading a crowd of zombies giving roses to onlookers, during a march to City Hall Plaza and the Texas State Capital.
An avid supporter of the presidential candidate Ron Paul, Mattingly affirmatively utilizes his fashion label as a platform for uninhibited self-expression and a hopeful cure.
“Today there’s endless truth available,” stated Mattingly in the film. “Don’t listen to CNN, don’t listen to NBC, listen to yourself — occupy your head.”
Also in the works is a moderately priced shoe and accessories line, Mota. For product pricing and details, see the Atom Willis site, and to donate towards Multiple Sclerosis research, please visit the National MS Society link included on their site.
Make one of these exclusive leather jackets yours by shopping the Atom Willis site.
Written by Audrea Diaz
Photography by Fuzebox Photography and Ryan Goodrich
Model Lucy Secord, Wardrobe by Electric Frenchie