Designer Spotlight Kalen Kaminski, Upstate


Current location: Brooklyn, NY

Your top 5 favorite spots in Greenpoint: 

Maman: An amazing new cafe that just opened on a quiet street in Greenpoint. 

Littleneck Outpost- Restaurant and home goods shop with great salads and sandwiches.

Adaptations-  Great vintage furniture - pink velvet chairs, macrame wall hangings...very 70's vibe.

21 Greenpoint- On the edge of Greenpoint Avenue near the water. Bonus: frequent bill murray sightings ;) 

Achilles Heel- Cozy spot on the edge of Greenpoint off of West Street. Great for drinks, snacks, and late night dance parties!

Describe your personal style.

I love a uniform. Usually I find a few outfits I like and wear them to death. My go-to outfits right now are my high-wasted velvet pants paired with this great vintage striped crop sweater from Narnia Vintage in Williamsburg. Or a pair of vintage orange-tab Levi’s with my galaxy tee, a neck hankie and my leather Moto jacket. Most days, you can find me wearing my carhartt coverall at my studio because it allows me to work and not worry about making a mess out of myself.

Your guilty pleasure?

Dim sum for breakfast

Favorite beach destination?

This private beach off of Cefalu in Sicily 

What are 3 things you never leave the house without?

Phone, keys, wallet...check (if I don't say this allowed chances are I’ll walk out of the house without one of these items).

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I went to University of Colorado and studied anthropology. I then moved to New York straight out of college when I was 21 for no reason. I was only going to live here for three months and travel around but 11 years later and I’m still here! I started working odd jobs here and there tried to figure out what I wanted to do. I started working for set designers and prop stylists and took a liking to that.  Because it was freelance it allowed me time for creative projects. A friend and I became really interested in making large wraps and couldn’t find the right fabric. Our artist friend was creating these works of art on fabric, which he called shibori.  I was so blown away by the beauty and depth to the color and patterns I wanted to learn how to do it myself. To this day one of my favorite things in the world are hand-dyed fabrics.  I learned through trial and error of YouTube videos, books, and learning from him.  Upstate started as a passion project and still is! We began making only scarves in 2010 and in 2012 expanded into women’s clothing. Now we are making womenswear, scarves, and home goods. 

Where does the name come from?

Everyone thinks it's because we live upstate or are based upstate, but we aren't. It’s named after the whole mentality of the upstate state of mind. It eludes to the idea of escape and is a code word for that. 


Why did you choose to focus on tie-dye print?

Shibori, tie dye, hand dye, marbling are all so beautiful. At Upstate we explore any artistic process on fabric and think of our clothes as wearable art. The depth in color and texture is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I think it's visually healing and calming to wear and have in the home. 

Your brand feels very west coast. Where does the inspiration come from?

That’s what everyone says! My roots are from Boulder, Colorado where I was born and raised so maybe that has something to do with it.


You’re also a prop stylist. Where do you feel your two professions intersect?

After interior styling for catalogs and editorials, I noticed what's missing in the market place textile-wise and feel inspired to introduce it in. I also think of both careers as project based and foresee tying the two together in the future. 

What’s your favorite piece from the collection and how do you style it?

That's tough because I love it all! I think this season the velvet wrap dress is my favorite. It's perfect for formal events but is also an incredibly luxe robe to lounge around the house in. You can wear it open or closed! 

Where do you see Upstate in the future? What’s next?

I don't see us following the fashion calendar. I see us coming out with a few incredible projects a few times a year. Perhaps a series of dyed velvet day beds? Flight suits? Wallpaper? The sky is the limit and there's so much we want to create.

What would you say to anyone who wants to start his or her own line?

Do it. Make sure you have a vision, mission, and a niche product to attract your consumer. 



Shop Upstate here and follow them on Instagram.