Samantha Steen, founder and CEO of Cami NYC, has mastered a single item: the camisole. We caught up with the young designer to get the scoop on her cami obsession, the story behind the pieces that have grabbed the attention of celebs and models like Rose Byrne, Shakira, Sofia Vergara, and Marloes Horst, and where the brand is headed next.
The impetus for Cami NYC was the lack of well-made, cost-efficient camisoles in the market. There weren’t any designers specializing in this specific wardrobe staple—something reminiscent of lingerie, but compatible with your day-to-evening outfit. I wanted to focus on a single basic and make it special.
How did you come to be obsessed with camisoles?
My personal style is a combination of classic and feminine pieces with a twist of sexiness. My obsession with silk and lace camisoles stemmed from their simplicity and versatility in my wardrobe. I wanted to pepper this staple into my work wardrobe while still looking appropriate and professional. I was working in the fashion industry but was in a role that still limited how ‘far’ I could go with personal style and edginess. A lightweight, silk camisole with lace detailing was the perfect tweak to a blazer-centric daytime look that transitioned easily into a night out. From a consumer standpoint, I was limited to either a high-street tank top or an extremely pricey piece of lingerie. I’d always had the urge to create and design, so I researched a local manufacturer and created my own. My co-workers became obsessed and soon enough, I was making multiples. My idea organically sprung into a potential business plan. I decided to quit my corporate job and focus my efforts on what became Cami NYC.
Is there any place you won‘t wear a cami?
Camis are my second skin—I wear them everywhere! I created a range of seven styles to ensure versatility in every woman’s wardrobe. The Sweetheart is great for those who want the ‘hint’ of lace under a blazer or jacket, while the high top is lovely on its own and can tucked into a statement skirt.
You’re expanding into dresses, right?
Over the past two years, we’ve expanded into a variety of styles and fabrications of camis, including leather and jersey. Via our online Cami Crew Experts and personal shoppers, we realized there was an increasing demand for a slip dress. This seemed like the most natural next step for Cami NYC, and a strong segue into a newer category. The two dresses we launched this Spring maintain the integrity and aesthetic of our brand and are easy to wear, just like the rest of our collection.
What’s the next category for the Cami NYC team to tackle?
Can’t stop, won’t stop! Cami NYC will continue evolving the collection and adding other categories. We love the idea of a PJ-inspired set of Cami short set or a slip-inspired skirt. If anyone has ideas, send them our way!