JESSE KAMM, MADE IN CALIFORNIA SINCE 2005.
Our mission at JESSE KAMM is to create high-quality, durable products, produced ethically and sustainably, right here at home, in California. We are a small family business with an emphasis on respect for all people, and a high quality of life for ourselves and for our partners.
LIMITED SCALE AND GROWTH
JESSE KAMM is dedicated to conservative growth, and to limiting our production scale. Worldwide, people consume about 80 billion items of clothing per year. Americans consume more clothing than any other country on Earth. On average, US consumers purchase 5 garments per person per month. About 70 pounds of textiles per person are thrown away in the US each year. All of this all contributes to the clothing industry being one of the world’s largest polluters, second only to the oil industry. JESSE KAMM has constrained our production to deliver approximately 8,000 garments total per year. We choose to limit our scale, because by doing so, we limit our impact. We can maintain careful control of our process, and reap all of the benefits that come from producing locally. We are not, and never will be, mass-market fashion. One of the longest running mottos at JESSE KAMM is “Don’t grow out of business.” At JESSE KAMM, we do not believe that constant growth is in any way sustainable, or a good idea. The Earth evolved to function through a complex network of natural recycling processes, and these processes are slow. Constant growth, and the global economic system which depends upon it, is the primary cause for the degradation of our environment and of human rights worldwide. At JESSE KAMM, we grow slowly, and sometimes, we choose to not grow at all. We limit our number of retail partners to 30 stores worldwide, building long-lasting relationships over time, which are based on trust and mutual respect. We carefully consider the development of each new item, and make sure that we get it right before bringing it to market. We never make a commitment to deliver an order unless we are 100% certain that we can fulfill the order, delivering a high-quality product, on time, every time.
JESSE KAMM manufactures all of our products in Los Angeles, CA, and has done so since 2005. In the 1960’s, 95% of clothing consumed in the USA was manufactured in the USA. Today, less than 3% of clothing consumed in the USA is manufactured in the USA. Domestic garment manufacturing is an industry that is in grave danger of going extinct, especially here in California. This extinction would lead to the elimination of thousands of jobs for both sewing factory owners, and highly skilled workers and craftsmen alike. It brings us great pride to support our local community. Los Angeles, CA has one of the highest minimum wages in the country, and even the workers earning at minimum wage earn 30-40 times as much as workers earning the minimum wage in a country like Bangladesh, who earn only about $3.00 per day. Local production minimizes our carbon footprint, as products are sewn, dyed, and finished in the same geographic area. We are able to further minimize waste through careful, hands-on oversight of our production process. Mistakes are caught early, and we NEVER receive a batch of goods that must be disposed of due to mistakes occurring during production. We personally verify that things are being done the right way, and that all workers are treated with dignity and respect. We pass through our contracted workshops several times per week, and have a real understanding of how our products are made. Garments are finished with a quality control process that passes through the hands of one of our JESSE KAMM studio members. We touch every piece, and hand pack each box before we send our pieces into the world.
When the JESSE KAMM collection began, we utilized 100% deadstock fabric, which was sourced locally in downtown Los Angeles. As we have grown as a company, we have had to move beyond deadstock fabric in order to find replenishable goods at the quantities we require. The JESSE KAMM canvas collection is focused on durability. By creating pieces that last for many years, the impact of the production is distributed across time. Armed with our increasing buying power, we are developing an organic version of our canvas, and plan to move to 100% organic canvas by 2020. Our denim line originated with 3000 yards of beautiful deadstock American-made Cone denim. Sadly, that American mill has since closed. Our denim now is produced in one of Japan’s oldest denim mills, which has focused on worker’s rights and conditions since 1906. Their current sustainability efforts include some solar powered and zero emissions factories, a recycling rate of 97.4%, a biomass power plant, an indigo dye process focused on effluent treatment, reduced water use, reduced sludge, and reduced hot water requirements. In the remaining collection pieces at JESSE KAMM, we still use deadstock fabric whenever possible. When this is not possible, we focus on using sustainable textiles such as organic cotton, flax, tencel, cupro, and lyocell. Many of our fabrics come from Japan, and are certified AZO dye free (An AZO is a nasty carcinogen that you do not want on your skin, the largest organ in your body, or near your workers.) Moving into the future, JESSE KAMM is increasing its commitment to sustainability, and will move to 100% sustainable fabrics by January of 2020.
LOCAL DYE PROCESS
JESSE KAMM dyes all of our canvas goods, and many of our other cotton collection pieces in a state of the art facility that is one of the cleanest in Southern California. Globally, garment dye is a massive polluter. In many instances, the effluents from the dye process are dumped directly into rivers and streams, turning the waters into a toxic rainbow, which finds its way downstream and eventually into our oceans, oftentimes running through villages polluting the local water supply used for drinking and bathing. JESSE KAMM’s garment dye process is heavily regulated and monitored. All of the dye matter and chemicals used in our garment dye process exceed California regulations and avoid toxic substances. The substances used in our processes are particularly safe, and use very little dye. All dye workers are trained according to MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), and wear appropriate protective equipment at all times. Our contracted dye house has a high-tech facility in which all effluent water is filtered first at the facility, and then passes through a dedicated drain line straight to the city water treatment plant for further filtration and treatment. All wet processes are confined to one area, so that no effluent escapes filtration and treatment. Not only is the effluent from the facility monitored and regulated, but also the storm water runoff, which makes it necessary to maintain a very clean facility, including outdoor spaces. The facility receives regular inspections, and all workers earn at least minimum wage.
JESSE KAMM prices our products from the bottom up. Many companies, especially in fast-fashion, start with their desired retail price. They then squeeze everyone, from the farmers to the sewers to the dye houses, in order to bring their product to market at that price while remaining profitable. Due to globalized production networks, if one factory refuses the job at the price offered, these companies can look elsewhere for people who are desperate enough to accept their proposed contracts. The end result is that all of the people involved in the production process are forced to compete in a race to the bottom. The only way to deliver the goods at such a low price is to cut corners. At JESSE KAMM, our cost begins with our materials, which are the finest that we are able to obtain. Throughout the fabric sourcing process, we focus both on sustainable materials, and durable materials, which are both important when considering overall impact. Next, we move to the crafting of the goods. The sewing workshops set their sewing prices based on how much time it takes them to complete a garment, and we do not ask contractors to compete with each other over price, as long as their requested prices are reasonable. Our pieces take hours to complete, and the minimum wage in Los Angeles is $13.50 per hour. The end result is that sewing costs a great deal, which we feel is more than fair. We are proud to invest in this beautiful local craftsmanship. Our wash and finishing costs are also high, due to the attention to detail involved throughout these processes. JESSE KAMM is a wholesale business. We mark up our products from our cost, and our retail partners, in turn, mark the products up to obtain our retail prices. These two mark-ups support us at JESSE KAMM, and help to support the over 30 independent, women-owned boutiques with whom we work. We cannot and do not undercut our retail partners.
At JESSE KAMM, we are proud to have the opportunity to levy our success into support for organizations we feel are doing important work. We donate significant amounts to many charitable organizations that we feel are in urgent need of private support. These include but are not limited to the NRDC, The Southern Poverty Law Center, The ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Environment California, Los Angeles Unified School District, and The Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law (which provides law services for women who are victims of domestic violence). This is how we operate, and we stand proudly behind the decisions that have led us to where we are today. As a JESSE KAMM customer, we hope that you understand these decisions, and that perhaps they will bring you a bit of pride as well.
Lucas Brower, Chief Of Operations/ JESSE KAMM
M.S. Environmental Science and Policy. STANFORD UNIVERSITY