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