There is no grey area with Jesse, a woman whose uniform dressing centers primarily around two of my favorite colors: black and white. Her masculine references don’t feel forced, but the most natural on her tall frame, perfectly in tune with her 70s supermodel meets classic Ralph Lauren vibe.
She stays the same in the way she dresses no matter the circumstance. From picking up her son at hip-hop class on top of the mountain where she lives, to working on her collection at her studio. She is a welcoming presence and like her collection of the same name, has a real ease about her…
Describe your style in three words.
Clean. Handsome. Relaxed.
Where do you like to shop?
I like to shop at the Rosebowl for vintage pieces. I shop for shoes at Mohawk General in LA, Kickpleat in Austin, and Shoponeofafew online. I have custom pieces made from my collection made for me, and exclusively wear JK or vintage.
You make assertive style choices, like wearing many variations of the suit in monochromatic hues. Where does that confidence come from?
All of my heroes dress/ dressed in a fairly uniformed manner. Men have been able to dress that way through history. It is easy to dress that way. I would always look at images of Halston, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, and feel a bit envious. My female references all dress with an air of menswear: Joan Didion, Lauren Hutton, Diane Keaton, Tilda Swinton. I think the ease was the original draw. And it looks good.
Are there things you won’t wear?
I do not set a lot of rules when dressing. I do not pay attentions to trends. Clothing creates a strong internal feeling for me. If I put something on, and it does not feel right, I will not wear it. There is a little magical switch that flips when something feels right. Perhaps that window is quite narrow for me, hence the uniform.
You live in the hills of Los Angeles, but travel to Panama for the summer. How does your lifestyle influence your personal style? Function is the guiding factor when it comes to my dressing. In Panama we live in the jungle. The environment dictates what I wear more than anything. I like to joke that there are two people living inside of me… a 70s version of Stacy Peralta and a 70s version of Lauren Hutton. The Stacy Peralta character wins out in Panama every time. Life is deeply chill in the jungle. A night out involves drinking a beer on a dock with 5 dirty surfers. I have no need to bust out the linen two piece suit for them. I save that for the hills of California.
You wear a lot of hats, is the Panama hat one of them?
10 years ago I wore Panama hats exclusively. When the fast-fashion stores caught on, I retired mine.
And your most beloved item right now?
My Martiniano glove shoes in Toastada.
You launched Jesse Kamm in California. In what ways are the designs uniquely Californian?
I think my fabric weights always tend to be on the lighter side, especially for the Autumn Winter Season. It is hard for me to design for really cold temperatures, when I am only in them for one week each year. My friend John always jokes that I have the “laid back, take it as it comes, California attitude.” I think the collection has that attitude as well, and I suppose it is only natural that it would. If I lived in Manhattan I guess the collection would be stark and black, with a lot more wool. In the end you can only be who you are, nothing more, nothing less… otherwise it is not honest.
How has your style evolved over the years?
My style became very clear to me when I had my son. It evolved a great deal at that time. Time is scant when you are a parent. All decision making is much more clearly defined for me now, especially in the way that I dress. I do not have time to hem and haw about anything. I think the strict uniform dressing grew out of that place. I design the collection with a similar frame of mind. I try to create great pieces that you can wear with everything, everyday, and look smart and put together. The goal is to look like a dream, even when life feels like a nightmare.
Photos Erik Melvin