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Behind The Scenes

Jesse Kamm's Designer Pals

Perhaps one of the most fun things we come across around here is just how connected some of our alumni are. But these days, we’re less shocked by how many of them actually know each other than by the circumstances under which they’ve become acquainted. Case in point: Jesse Kamm’s one degree from three past Of a Kind favorites—Alyson Fox, Elizabeth Yarborough and Clare Vivier. Here, Jesse shares all. —jiayi ying Jesse’s portrait in Alyson’s book, A Shade of Red. [Ed.: More on that here.] Alyson Fox“After my son Julien was born, I decided we needed to move to the woods, because I really wanted to focus on learning about this new guy in my life. So we rented this cabin just outside of Austin, Texas, and lived there for eight months. While there, I met this girl who owns an amazing boutique called Spartan, and I saw this Alyson Fox tea towel in there one day. I thought, ‘Hey, I remember that girl. We were in the same issue of Nylon a long time ago!’ A week later, she came by and photographed me for her book. We became instant fans of each other’s work. When I started the spring 2011 collection, it was obvious to get Alyson involved in the jewelry design.” The yarn whiz and textile guru wearing each other’s pieces at their La Pietra Project opening at Pulp Lab in Seattle. Elizabeth Yarborough“Elizabeth and I are old friends. At the time we were introduced, I was doing illustrations based on buttons and bows, and Elizabeth was making button jewelry. One day, a Vogue editor who knew both our work said to me, ‘You gotta meet Elizabeth Yarborough.’ It turns out many of the buttons I was drawing were ones Elizabeth was using in her pieces. It was just this weird coincidence. I ended up using a lot of her jewelry for L.A. Bloom—a film I was making for my spring 2008 collection, featuring L.A. girls who inspired me. We went on to collaborate on a project a year later—Elizabeth made bangles based on the fabric of my dresses, the print of which was originally inspired by all this marble I saw in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.” Jesse sporting a Clare Vivier creation. Clare Vivier“Clare and I met through my friend Heather Taylor, who co-owns Taylor De Cardoba, a gallery here in Los Angeles where she organized this group show that Clare and I were both part of. That’s where we first met, but Clare actually wore one of my designs to the event. Nowadays, I stop by Clare’s store frequently—we swap a lot of bags for dresses. Clare took this picture—I love how you can see her in the reflection of the frame—of me wearing her bags and Elizabeth’s bangles.” Score the navy-printed sweatshirt Jess made just for us! We’re sure all her designer friends would approve.
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Meet Jesse Kamm

Art has always been in Jesse Kamm’s blood—but designing clothes was never part of the picture. “I grew up in the Midwest, and fashion was just not something I thought about,” the Illinois native recalls. “It never occurred to me that there was anything other than jeans and sweatshirts that we bought at a convenience store in my little town.” But with mom who’s a sculptor and dad who’s a guitarist, the designer spent a fair amount of her childhood years in the studio “making sculptures, instead of watching TV”—honing and appreciating the craftsmanship that would later prove helpful in launching an eponymous line of clean and classic pieces. She started said line in 2005, after a post-college move to California and a half-decade-long modeling career. It was in those runway years that Jesse acquainted herself with the aesthetics of fashion and discovered the gravitational pull of simple, well-made pieces. “I’ve never been caught up in trends. For me, it’s always been about things that you can wear constantly for a couple of seasons, put away, and bring back years later,” she explains. Unfulfilled by her modeling work, Jesse started sewing and getting into textile design—soon adding her own pieces to her wardrobe. And they were a hit. “I found myself getting ‘Where can I get that? Can I rent that for an editorial piece?’ enough times for me to realize that there was an amazing opportunity sitting in front of me,” the L.A. designer remembers. “And it’s weird—it came so naturally. I remember having this conversation with my dad one day. I said, ‘Dad, it feels so strange—what I’m doing is so fun and effortless, but people are into it. Everything else I’ve done in my life was such a struggle.’ And he said, ‘I think that’s how you know you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing.’” —jiayi ying  See that top Jesse is wearing? She made a sweatshirt just for us in that super-cool print. Check it here. Just 20!
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Jesse Kamm Takes Us to Panama

When Jesse Kamm and her husband Lucas Brower visited Bocas Del Toro, Panama, several years back, they instantly fell in love with the place. So they rounded up their friends and family and collectively bought a 45-acre plot of land on Punta Carenero, a small island (see above) mere minutes from the mainland. Since then, the couple has launched a full-fledged sustainable real estate site, where Jesse gets to design houses that Lucas develops. The first undertaking—constructing their own home from scratch—is wrapping up any day now. Here, Jesse talks all things Panama—including the 20 second-home-inspired sweatshirts she created for us. —jiayi ying Scoop up one of the navy-and-white sweatshirts Jesse made just for us. They’re perfect for chilly island nights and freezing city days. On making the trip“We go down there a few weeks during Christmastime, and then a couple of months in the summer. It’s a huge part of who we are. It’s a great place to go and get centered—whenever I’m there, I get a lot done with textile designs.” Jesse (far left) lending a hand to the initial construction in 2008. On building their house“I designed the house, and Luke engineered it. He and three guys literally built this thing by reading books and just figuring out how to do it along the way—they hadn’t done anything like it before. It’s kind of like creating clothes. You map out a plan, figure out how well you can make it, and you build it.” The almost-finished house. On getting inspired“When we were down there for six weeks in 2006, I just drew beetles and plants the entire time. When I came home, I incorporated all of the illustrations into the textile design I was working on. As a result, my very early designs from spring 2007 were called the Panama Collection.”  The flower that made it onto a textile. On what this has to do with our rad sweatshirt“The rectangle composition print on the sweatshirt for Of a Kind stands for upward and forward motion. And the idea for a sweatshirt in general was inspired by these images of fifties surfer dudes—the same culture that brought us to Panama. They wore simple cotton twill pants, rolled-up, and military-grade sweatshirts, and they just looked really clean, simple, and cool. And I wanted to bring that back.” 
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