AMO Spring 2021 collection
Photo: Emman Montalvan

AMO Spring 2021 collection Photo: Emman Montalvan


From a Love for Heritage Women’s Denim, AMO Grows Its Community Commitment

Established in Los Angeles with its founding in 2014 and the release of its Spring 2015 collection, AMO founders Kelly Urban and Misty Zollars—both alumnae of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising—are also true-blue Los Angeles denimheads. Cutting their teeth in the local industry, Urban’s résumé, which started in denim in 2004, includes time spent working with Current/Elliott, and Zollars was once an associate designer at Joie. The women met during their time at True Religion.

“After working for denim brands for the following 10 years, I realized there was something lacking in denim—a woman’s point of view with an authentic denim approach,” Urban said.

Creating the ideal denim meant shifting away from the stretch trends that were prevalent in the male-dominated jeans world. Dedicating the brand to principles based on a love of women and love of vintage denim, Urban chose the name AMO due to its Latin root for “love.” The women who own and patronize local shops, including The Alcove, Lake Boutique and MARKET, have responded with a requited love for AMO.

“We love the way AMO makes us feel,” said Madeleine Johnson, who co-owns with Christina Vakhshourpour The Alcove, which has doors in Malibu, Calif., and Long Beach, Calif. “The quality, fit and laid-back West Coast style speaks to The Alcove brand and lifestyle. We are proud to support a fellow women-owned business!”

To achieve a more-sustainable product, AMO is made from fabrics comprising natural fibers in linen, Modal and cotton, in addition to sourcing from suppliers that provide organic materials or are Better Cotton Initiative certified, yet Urban believes there is always room for improvement. In 2020, the brand chose to move into packaging based on fully compostable shipping bags.

There is also a dedication to produce locally. Urban notes that supporting manufacturing partners to maintain a made–in–Los Angeles denim industry is part of the brand’s foundation, as the city’s legacy in the category lives in AMO’s ethos.

“Every single piece of clothing we have ever made has been designed and produced here in Los Angeles,” Urban revealed. “I believe in keeping made-in-L.A. alive and hope to see more brands keeping their businesses close to home and working with our local vendors.”

As AMO’s preference is to maintain a presence in Los Angeles in order to remain part of its denim legacy, she has noticed that consumers are responding to this message. As denim consumers grow more informed and ask questions regarding sourcing before buying, they are embracing products created through nearshoring processes.

“Los Angeles has always been the top denim-manufacturing destination. Years ago we saw an industry shift of consumers preferring to purchase locally manufactured denim, and we on the other side have to make sure to keep that top of mind, championing and supporting each other,” Urban explained. “We can help each other in maintaining jobs locally and continue to produce high-quality products.”

Dedication to more-sustainable, locally made denim for women isn’t the only mission AMO has adopted. Through its philanthropic efforts, the company is also giving back to organizations the founders view as contributing to the community, including Every Town, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Planned Parenthood, the Spay Neuter Project of Los Angeles and the Women’s March.

“In 2020 we donated to Color of Change and I Am a Voter, two organizations we wholeheartedly support and believe are fighting for positive change,” Urban said. “We also adjusted our company holiday policy to allow for paid vacation on election days, closing our office completely on those days to allow our employees the time they need to vote.”

In its Spring 2021 collection, which is also available through, AMO was made using dye processes and in hues that promote “new beginnings and hope,” according to Urban. The latest collection is priced at retail from $79 for a tank top to $350 for a surplus jacket. Applying colors in citron, sherbet, lilac and sea glass, Urban wanted to relay the optimism she felt as she pulled together the line and art direction for the campaign while eight months pregnant with her second child.

“I wanted to convey a light and happy feeling, a reawakening of sorts,” Urban said. “Spring 2021 is really about a love for today and being optimistic about what’s next.”