Adam Kimmel studied architecture at New York University and began having his clothes made when he couldn't find anything he liked in stores. "Guys were scavenging because it was hard to find the basics," he says. His friendsartists David Armstrong, Ryan McGinley and Dan Colenwanted the fashionable but masculine basics that Kimmel was wearing. "I never thought I'd be in fashion," he says. "A friend suggested it." He dropped out of grad school in 2002 and started his business that same year.
Kimmel's clothescomfy cashmere corduroy trousers, slouchy jackets and painter's smocksare more romantic than nostalgic. "My inspiration is always American," says the designer, 29, "but I look at art moments: Willem de Kooning, Abstract Expressionism and iconic clothes like worker's cottons and tuxedos." Everything has a luxurious feel. "I take a rough idea but make it soft as can be. That's really important to me," Kimmel says.
His spring 2009 collection is inspired by the art scene in 1960s Los Angeles. "Ed Ruscha, Larry Bellthese men lived as artists, but they still dressed up," he says. "They wore striped pants with striped shirts and unconstructed blazers. These guys had nothing but their work, but their approach to life was beautiful."
So far, Kimmel's tender hand has struck a chord. "If the '90s were about minimalism, the future is about the personal touch," he says. His collection has expanded from 20 styles to 100 and is sold in stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Colette and Dover Street Market.
Kimmel's philosophy is to continue to look at the brand as a venture for himself and his friends. "I try to discover pockets of American culture that resonate with my contemporaries and keep it as personal as I can."