A native of Kibbutz Afikim, Lia Kes grew up in an idealistic Israeli pioneering community in northern Israel. The idyllic landscape of orchards, plowed fields and nature at its best filled her childhood and day-to-day life on a kibbutz. This influenced Kes as a person and as a young designer. Kibbutz life required simple, practical clothing, and there was a raw, down-to-earth integrity to garments made at the communal sewing workshop known as the “matpera.” From the youngest to the oldest, the entire community was outfitted with the matpera’s simple, functional designs, which offered exceptional quality and a certain utilitarian charm.
The women who staffed the matpera inspired a young Kes. They taught her to use a sewing machine at the age of 12, which is when she vowed to uphold the matpera’s unique utilitarian tradition and the values represented by the community’s work ethic. With the knowledge that she was destined to become a fashion designer, Kes left the kibbutz and focused on her studies. She received a degree in fashion design from Shenkar College in Tel Aviv and, soon after graduating from the program, relocated to New York City, where she launched her namesake collection.
Kes’ designs reflect her upbringing, the realities of her current life and her vision for the future. A close look at any Kes garment reveals her meticulous attention to detail, construction and use of high-quality materials. An even closer look offers a window into the modesty of Kes’ youth coupled with the sophistication and edginess of her modern, urban reality living in New York City. As an environmentalist, Kes focuses on sustainability and offers an organically dyed program as part of her collection. This intersection of qualities allows Kes to effortlessly dress the modern woman—from day to night, beyond trends, seasons and her ever-changing moods—and make her feel both empowered and naturally beautiful.