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The New York Brand Turning Denim Into Wearable Art

From YSL’s Mondrian collection in 1965, to Louis Vuitton’s recent collaboration with Jeff Koons, fashion and art have an ongoing flirtation that captures the attention (and dollars) of consumers from both sides of the aisle. Few items, however, are as wearable and personal as a hand-painted jean jacket.

“I find that people nowadays want to feel special. They want to feel like what they are wearing is not something that’s duplicated,” said Aparna Avasarala, founder of Denimrush, an up-and-coming line of hand-painted jean jackets out of New York. “[A jacket] is their conversation starter piece. They want the story behind it.”

That was the feeling Avasarala was aiming for when she first took a brush to her own Wrangler jean jacket about a year ago. A retail design consultant by trade, Avasarala uses fashion to convey her creativity and aesthetic. “How you carry yourself as interior designer or architect is very important,” she said. “I didn’t want to wear a basic jacket, so I thought about what I could do to it. I’ve always painted—it’s my creative outlet—but I had never painted on denim before,” she said.

The jacket was a success. Avasarala began painting jackets for friends and business grew organically as people asked where they could get their own. Today, Denimrush offers vintage jackets for men and women, each with their own one-of-a-kind artwork on the back. The brand also recently introduced a collection of logo denim hats. Jackets retail for $190 to $300. Hats retail for $40.

A sunset, a landscape, an interesting shape—Avasarala says she finds inspiration for her denim paintings from all aspect of her life. However, nothing is as inspiring as color. “Painting on denim is an interesting process for me, the texture is different,” she explained. “For me, I know colors and how colors blend. I’ll see a space and see the negative and what’s missing.”

As the company grows, Avasarala plans to add more tailored silhouettes and new denim products. She also envisions Denimrush becoming a platform for up-and-coming artists. “It’s a passion project,” she said, adding, “Let’s work together and create a collection, so Denimrush has more variety and reaches more people.”