You might remember, from several years ago, a triad of reviews we published featuring beautiful, one-of-a-kind, custom hand painted jeans. It’s no secret that art and denim (or apparel in general) go hand in hand, with endless creative possibilities. Denim is art, after all, which allows every denim brand to stand out in a sea of others in their own unique way. Paint is often used on denim as a paint-splatter detail, catering to those who prefer their favorite jeans to look worn in and loved right off the racks. However it’s not often you see someone who uses denim as a canvas, dry brushing colors in layers by hand using a variety of stencil patterns for a gorgeous fade-in, fade-out effect. That is exactly what Joan Claire of Dragonfly by J. Claire does, and the results are nothing short of amazing.
“Owning a pair of Dragonfly by J Claire painted jeans is for that independent, unique individual who wants to make a statement with their own original look.” This is the driving force behind Joan’s work, along with her late father, who was also an artist and philanthropist. She embraces the concept of “artistry and imperfection,” with each piece individually painted just for you with its own characteristics and “flaws,” which make them all one-of-a-kind. Five percent of all sales are donated to various charities, such as the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Children’s Cancer Research, Anti-bullying campaigns, human rights campaigns, or creative art projects in schools. Dragonfly by J. Claire lives by a motto of “Create…Inspire…Give Back.” Joan also offers an “Urban Buzz” campaign, which allows fans to request another worthy cause specific to their community to support.
The Dragonfly name itself was inspired by a special and very close and magical encounter with several friendly dragonflies that Joan experienced. She took as a sign to manifest positive change in her life by confronting her fears through creativity and inspiring others through her journey. To Joan, dragonflies symbolize change and remembrance of child-like innocence, which brings about purity and joy.
Joan comes from a family of artists, her father being a sign painter for a significant Chicago ad company, and her sisters are graphic artists, painters, sculptors and art directors. She didn’t take up art until 2001, when she took a job with the Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes as a Certified Decorative Painter. There, she specialized in painted textured walls, which introduced her to her dry brushing technique she no implements into her custom painted jeans. In fact, as she walked away from every project in her paint-splattered jeans, she was actually asked by people who were unaware of her occupation about where she found them, and where they could find a pair like that too! This got the wheels turning in Joan’s head. In 2012, her daughter Danielle wrote to the Ellen Show about her vision, which lead to a phone call from one of the show’s producers and thus the inspiration to launch JClaire, LLC and the Dragonfly by J Claire brand. Joan soon began receiving celebrity attention, including two purchases from Selena Gomez. She also received opportunities to provide jeans as part of red carpet event grab bags, which she unfortunately had to turn down due to lack of capital at the time.
Joan’s unique dry brushing technique uses only a light amount of paint, so designs are smooth and soft to the touch, with a faded effect. Each jean is made with an innovative material and high quality thread. They all feature a contour fit, and are made to keep their shape and smooth out your figure. Dragonfly by J Claire offers special wash instructions to keep your painted designs looking vibrant, and each order comes with a reusable canvas bag.
The end goal for Dragonfly by J Claire is to eventually sell from a mass production standpoint internationally. People love to sport unique pieces, and with the rising awareness of the need for philanthropic work, the niche Joan has found is pretty strong. She aims her jeans to the “individual who likes to stand out and express themselves with an artistic edge and who is socially conscious.” Joan is also developing a service called ARTPORT, which will offer shoppers the chance to design their own jeans and shirts! This would allow major retailers and brands to provide a kiosk for customers to create their own wearable art with their product lines. Joan hopes this will also be a great way for bridal parties, showers or outings in general to make a memorable day creating gifts or pieces for themselves.
When it comes to customization, the sky is the limit, and you’ve got to see these jeans up close to really see why we here at Denimology love Joan’s work so much! We are stoked to see her finding success in her awesome brand. Shop Dragonfly by J Claire here.