Levi’s® Monthly Muse


December 2021

Jezz Chung styled in levi's tops and bottomsJezz Chung styled in levi's tops and bottoms

In this interview series, we introduce you to the people who inspire us most: creatives, educators, activists, community leaders and the everyday super-humans who keep us on our toes. We’ll take you inside their day-to-day lives, homes and workspaces. We’ll talk motivation and inspiration and, of course, all things style.

Jezz Chung, our December Monthly Muse, is a lot of things—a poet, philosopher, dancer, model, public speaker, author-to-be. But mostly, they’re a fighter. When Jezz graduated college, they moved to Los Angeles, which is where they first heard an activist say, “We’re not free until we’re all free.” That changed their life, and since then, they have committed themselves to creating a more equitable world. Now in New York, Jezz recently sat down with us and the queer, neurodivergent, Korean American creative spoke, among other things, about growing up as an expressive kid in a repressive place, what it means to gain access to yourself, the stories clothes tell and the ones we tell through our clothes. Check out the interview below to hear from Jezz, in their own words.

How would you describe yourself? It seems like you do everything at the same time.

It depends on the day. Because some days I feel like I can go real big and say I'm a worldbuilder. I like to build. I like to shape my own world by writing out my experiences and examining them through different lenses. And then I try to help build a more equitable world. So I work in the intersections, I'd say, of equity, creativity and well-being. I feel like when we take care of ourselves and we practice that active self-care and personal transformation, that personal transformation feeds into collective change.

Jezz Chung putting on eye makeup in the mirror

Where do you live?

I'm in Brooklyn. It'll be four years in January. It took three years to get into a groove. It took me three years to find a solid community of people, and that makes such a difference. My first two years, especially, were really hard for me. The city is not a gentle city to live in by any means. And it just brought all of my mental health conditions to the surface.

I've been experiencing chronic depression since I was a child. So here, I fell into the worst depressive episode that I'd ever been in. But that actually led me into therapy and meditation and a bunch of other healing practices. Moving here forced me to find myself in some ways. But it was rough. I came here from LA, and I wanted to leave. But I knew I had to challenge myself. There was a journey here that I had to go through to deepen my creativity. And I feel I have definitely done that.

Jezz Chung reading a book in a levis denim button up western shirt

Where are you from?

I grew up in the outskirts of Atlanta. And then I went to high school in Houston and college at the University of Texas at Austin.

Jezz Chung standing in her outside yard in Levis denim button up western shirt loosened up and khaki pants


Jezz Chung in her closet looking through clothing, styled in high wasted Levis denim jeans in dark blueJezz Chung in her closet looking through clothing, styled in high wasted Levis denim jeans in dark blue

Were you a creative kid?

I was a very expressive and repressed kid. I grew up in a really religious household, so I was repressed and sheltered. In a lot of ways, I didn't have access to myself. But I was always very expressive emotionally and with my style. I was always drawn to lots of colors, and I loved putting outfits together. My mom was a single mom for a while, so we did a lot of vintage shopping and thrifting and going to different thrift stores.

I always wanted to be unique in the way I presented. And I was also one of very, very few Asians in my schools growing up. In retrospect, I knew I was different in some way, but I didn't know how to articulate it. So I did it through my clothing. I decided since I'm already different, I’ll choose how those differences are expressed.

When did you feel that you were able to access yourself? Or is it an ongoing journey?

I started to make Asian friends for the first time in high school. And I still wasn't really in touch with my Asian identity, but I had friends who I could perceive cultural experiences with. And even though we never talked about queerness in my high school in Texas, my friends gave me a sense of what community can feel like. And then I graduated and moved to LA the same year the Black Lives Matter movement started. I was going to BLM meetings and getting involved, and it made me realize I have a duty and responsibility as someone who's living in this era to contribute to change. And that led me to studying Asian American history and about Asian American activists who have fought for Black liberation movements. I was able to access my own language, and my own history.

Jezz Chung in her home styled in Levi's Denim western shirt

What do you mean when you say you have a duty?

I think this comes from me being autistic. I pick up on things that other people don't pick up on, and I won't pick up on things that other people pick up on. So I’m hyper-aware of the social climate and of our collective suffering. I always ask, where are we suffering and why are we suffering? And what can we do to change the systems that cause this suffering? And I feel like that's on all of us.

“We’re not free until we're all free.” That's what a lot of activists and organizers have said in the past, and I really took those words to heart. I said, “If that's true, then what can I do to build a career and a lifestyle around this freedom and this liberation? How can I commit my lifetime to this movement?”


Close up image of Jezz Chung sitting on a post it board

Jezz Chung black and white image side profile close up

How does that show up in your work and your day-to-day?

It definitely influences who I collaborate with. The people who I pull in and work with, like photographers and different artists in my communities. It affects what businesses I support, what I consume, who I follow online. I'm always asking, “Is this helping build equity?”

So how would you describe your sense of style? You said you're expressive.

My style is definitely a reflection of my mood. My mood reflects my style and my style reflects my mood. It's kind of a cycle — I don't have a singular style. But I'm really attracted to a lot of prints, silhouettes and textures that are reflective of the Asian diaspora. It's a way I connect with my heritage and reclaim the aspect of myself that I wasn't in touch with when I was younger. I like to think sometimes I'm dressing for my inner child and my future self.

Do you ever feel unsure about what you're wearing? Is there ever anything you don’t feel you can pull off?

I'm pretty unafraid to try new styles, but it's very intuitive for me. And I think it comes from dressing myself since I was young, but I will know immediately if I like something or not. I'll just know immediately: Do I want to wear that today? Does that feel like me?


I’m using clothes to say something. When I look back at photos and see how my style’s evolved, they show me what headspace I was in at that time.

We never asked: Why do you shop vintage now?

The stories. Clothing carries so many stories, especially if it's been on someone else's body before. I just wonder about all the places that person’s been, all the experiences they've had in that clothing. And I love the idea of carrying that person's history with me while I'm creating new memories in it.

I also just love that you can just be more unique with vintage clothing. You have more room to express yourself, because if you have something that's vintage, there are most likely not a lot of people in the world who have that piece now. So I feel like it just leaves room for more, different and deeper levels of expression. And it's sustainable, too.

Jezz Chung Standing in front of a window in a blue Levis denim western shirt

Photo Credit: Mary Kang