Collage is what defines Victory Press, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based apparel brand started by Jon Cammisa and Jessica Humphrey earlier this year. It's a constant theme in their company's aesthetic as well as in their personal lives; even their living room has rapidly become an enclave for the collages the couple is constantly creating.
"When I met Jon, we both had a lot of commonalities," says Humphrey. "We love going to flea markets and thrift shops, picking through vintage clothing to look for color palettes and inspiration for our designs." Sometimes it's a pocket from an old windbreaker, the zipper from a pair of early '90s denim or maybe a swatch of color that's been forgotten over time. The pair -- both of whom are involved in garment design -- sketches, samples and produces almost entirely in New York City, revamping the fashion and outerwear they sought out in their separate subcultures as teens. Their recent pop-up shop in Williamsburg beamed with beachy color but was anchored in city cool -- a bridge between their upbringings.
Humphrey has worked for more than a decade in the New York fashion world -- for Ralph Lauren, Elizabeth and James and Denim & Supply, among others -- but she grew up in Virginia Beach, Va., and was engulfed in the local hardcore punk and skateboarding scenes. Her involvement in hardcore quickly became passionate, taking her all over the East Coast to every club, VFW hall and venue to see shows. One of the cities she frequented was Cammisa's home turf: Philadelphia.
Cammisa was skating during Love Park's boom in the mid-'90s and was also heavily into the hip-hop and bike scenes. With the city being so small, the youth cultures naturally commingled, creating a unique aesthetic. Waterproof anoraks, old-school New Balance sneakers and punk edge became a defining look in Philly. While fashion crossover is almost arbitrary -- and mandatory -- in our current collage culture, it was purposeful then, and regional. Philly kids had their look and would stand out in any other city.
"Serendipitously, I was connected to [legendary skateboarder] Mark Gonzales because he needed someone to watch his cats for a month while he was in New Zealand," remembers Cammisa. "When he got back, he asked me to do some work for him, and that turned into five years of design work for Krooked and other various projects." Part of that collaboration was deeply rooted in Cammisa's unique collage work, best evidenced on the VHS cassette cover for Krooked's "Gnar Gnar" video.
Though she was spending a lot of time in various cities, Humphrey was still steeped in beach culture and the bright colors, loose fits, surf gear and ever-changing skate styles that evolved through the late '80s into the '90s. These same elements are present in Victory Press' fall 2013 line, but are tempered by a utilitarian need. Jackets have to keep you dry, but look fly. Pants have to be the right cut, length and color, yet need to stand up to falls off of your board or bike.
Rather than going the standard route to market through trade shows, Victory Press continues to draw from its DIY roots. Launching this July in a pop-up space housed in a Brooklyn barbershop not only gave them the ability to make their designs visible to patrons and all of the neighborhood foot traffic, but it also provided a venue to hold art shows and act as a hub for other creatives. With plans to take the brand on the road as an almost mobile pop-up, and to dabble in anything from art to fashion and book publishing, Victory Press aspires to be more than just a clothing brand. And they'll do it, because they're passionate, driven and fueled by a PMA (positive mental attitude), as one of their graphic tees -- an homage to punk icons Bad Brains -- states. Keep tabs at victorypressnewyork.com.