Designers Jonathan Cammisa and Jessica Humprey made their menswear debut this fall under the name Victory Press, a line of colorful and tech-y anoraks, easy button-downs and chill outwear. The juxtaposition of Cammisa’s fine art and streetwear background and Humprey’s years as a design director at Polo Ralph Lauren, converge in Victory Press yielding a sporty collection that’s equally informed by vintage skate gear and Ellsworth Kelly’s post-modern art. With a design studio based in the Vinegar Hill section of Brooklyn and production in Midtown Manhattan’s Garment District, Victory Press is creating punchy yet thoughtful separates at prices that remain easy on the wallet. We spoke with Humprey and Cammisa about the benefits of producing a line in NYC, their arty influences and what sets Victory Press apart from the menswear pack.
At 40 pieces, this is a large debut collection. How long has it been in the works? JONATHAN CAMMISA: We spent two years in the process of just developing this. We started talking about what we wanted to see in the market that we hadn’t. The line started from a very specific point of view and then it got more personal, like, what we wanted to see from our past.
You’ve described Victory Press as ‘inner-city outdoor wear.’ What’s that mean?
CAMMISA: I wrote down the words ‘inner-city outdoors wear’ and it just stuck around. We want to be a functional brand, we want to recognize that we live in New York and we’re not mountaineering.
JESSICA HUMPHREY: We’re making clothes that you can ride your bike in. If it starts raining, that’s cool, because it’s waterproof or your jacket has Cordura lined pockets, so you can put your cell phone in there and it won’t get wet.
CAMMISA: We live in a four-season city–you’re outdoors all the time, you’re in a lot of weather environments. So it’s a play on the idea of four-season outerwear. We do care about fashion, but we like pieces that we can keep forever.
The price point is super reasonable—was that intentional? HUMPHREY: It’s totally for young people– kids that want to wear something fun and fashionable. They’re in college, they’re young professionals and creatives, but they don’t have a lot of money. It’s hard to spend $500 on retail so we’re trying to make Victory Press sort of reachable.
We felt like rather than start out wholesaling, we decided to sell directly to our customers. We started with pop-up shops which was a good opportunity for us to say here’s our line with a good foundation in our environment and sell directly to our customers. That way we can afford to keep our prices low. Because we don’t want to alienate our customers either.
HUMPHREY: We actually had to cut the line down, which was difficult since Jonathan and I are both very visual people. When you cut it down, you hone it, but you’re also like, ‘But you can’t leave that poor guy out.’ We wanted to make sure the color, the feeling and all of the different textures still played together.
Was the decision to set up production in New York super important or did it just kind of happen? HUMPHREY: It kind of just happened. I had a lot of experience with other companies and built relationships with factories in NYC. I also like the idea of supporting our community, that actually helps cut cost, too. Shipping is a big factor sometimes when you’re manufacturing clothes. Traveling is expensive.
CAMMISA: It’s obviously incredibly convenient for us to oversee production in NYC with the small-runs we create. We were able to really be hands on and be there basically every day for about two months.
How would you describe Victory Press’s color sense? CAMMISA: To put it in words really easily the broad scale inspiration would be like early ’80s skate and surf print patterns and color, mixed with ’90s functionality and outwear color palette as well.
HUMPHREY: We’re also really big fans of artists like Joseph and Anni Albers and Ellsworth Kelly. I feel like they use a lot of colors in the way that we do, mixing neutrals with really bright colors. So on our mood boards it would be a lot of those artists and then mixed with Patagonia and Nike Ads. I would really love to do a collaboration with Ellsworth Kelly.
CAMMISA: When we had our pop-up shop for two months we wanted to show how we were influenced by fine art and find a way to bring in our own community of artists. We did our own artist collaboration series. The first was a hat collection with this artist Isaac Nichols, who’s a good friend of ours. We went to his studio, tie-dyed a bunch of fabric, and then went to our hat maker, who developed an original pattern for us, cut the cap out of that custom fabric. At the pop up, we did an installation with his collage work and just put out all of the hats he customized for us.
And your online shop has a selection of art books for sale, too. HUMPHREY: It’s almost like we want to say, these vintage pieces are our inspiration, these art books are our inspiration and we just want to share it with everybody instead of hiding it behind closed doors. We want to continute to develop our book selection.
The Victory Press aesthetic is so influenced by vintage sportswear. What’s your favorite flea market for inspirational pieces? CAMMISA: We love going to the Rose Bowl in California. It’s so much fun. The coolest thing there is like a pile, about 10 feet high and 20 feet deep, of stuff that you can just go through. You know that it hasn’t been picked over, because you get five feet deep in a pile of stuff and find these nice little treats.