WHO IS: RUCKSACK VILLAGE
Getting to know James Kamo
My name is James Kamo. I’m 27 years old, and I make custom backpacks for a thingy I started called Rucksack Village.
From when I was about 10 or 11, I started becoming aware of clothing and style. Like really aware. Before that point, my mom would force me to wear my brother’s hand me downs, which were super uncool. Imagine an asian kid with a bowl haircut wearing super bright yellow short shorts with multi-colored polka dots. I know these days it would be badass but back then, it was hideous. So I started skating, and that’s when I got those free CCS catalogs. That’s probably the first time I really got an awareness for backpacks and how cool they looked. My local skateshop didn’t really sell clothes or packs, so all I knew were from the photos in the catalog. That’s where it all probably started.
I made my first pack when I was going to art school, a place you go if you want to make sure that you’ll never have a steady career or life even haha. I think I made it more to see if it was possible for me to make a pack. I was doing a degree in apparel design. I found packs to be easier to make than clothes. Clothes have a specific fit; people have different sized and shaped bodies, so it’s tough to please everyone. With packs, one size fits most. So you could say that I was drawn to packs because I’m lazy.
The first custom pack I did was for my friend’s girlfriend at the time. She was going on a long round the world trip with her class and she wanted a daypack. This was at a time when I had no idea how a conventional pack was put together. It was all based off of assumptions and resourcefulness. I think I also had a fear of zippers back then. Luckily the pack survived that trip.
Rucksack Village became a thing when I was working at this small sportswear company known for their shoes. I was an apparel designer there. My friend who I had a thing for and her son who were living with me, left to move back to Europe. I think I was trying to fill that huge void. There were no longer people to come home to. So instead of leaving work, I stayed. I was cranking out backpacks like a madman; working the day job from 9-5, then making packs from 5-midnight or later, sometimes till 6 the next morning in the prototyping room at work. I was utterly obsessed. I posted all the packs I made on Instagram, and after a while, my friend ordered one for her husband for I think it was his birthday. Then her husband ordered one for her as a Valentine’s gift. Then her husband’s coworker ordered one and it kinda took off from there. That happened in 2012. Since then, I’ve kinda been drifting from place to place, making backpacks, friends, and food then eating the food that I’d make.
To me, mastering your craft, and living true is one in the same. It’s all about living meaningfully and intentionally, which is really really hard in this day and age since we’re constantly being bombarded by other’s views of “perfection”. So hopefully we can all strive for being genuine to the core.
Big thanks to my family, my friends, all the people in my life good and bad for getting me where I am today. I am nothing without y’all!