Justina Blakeney, an artist and influencer with more than two million followers, is branching into apparel.
Blakeney is the founder of Jungalow, a lifestyle brand, shop and blog. She is also the author of The New York Times best-selling book, “The New Bohemians.”
Known for her use of bold colors and hand-drawn patterns, Blakeney has furniture and lifestyle collaborations with brands such as Pottery Barn and Target. Her collections include home decor, furniture, stationery, textiles, travel, kids, accessories and Band-Aid bandages.
The apparel collection is under her own name and ranges in size from 0 to 26 with a new size, “extra medium.” Each seasonal collection will have a different name. The first one is called We Wild, and includes pants, tops and jumpsuits, among other items. There will be more than 12 styles in the line, which launches exclusively Tuesday on jungalow.com. She plans to design four collections a year. Based in Los Angeles, Blakeney’s company has five full-time employees who work on all the products. Blakeney is also working on another book tentatively titled, “Jungalow: Decorate Wild — The Life + Style Guide.”
The apparel collection is manufactured in Los Angeles, using organic cotton and features all her own prints derived from her watercolor paintings. “The tigress print featured in this collection was taken from a watercolor I actually did with my daughter,” said Blakeney.
“The line is made to be worn indoors and out, which is a play on what we do with home,” she said. “I’m the kind of person who wants to be comfortable all the time. The clothing is super comfortable. It’s the kind of thing you can roll out of bed in, go to the grocery store, and put on a pair of heels and be dressed for your day.” She said there’s elastic, ruching and a lot of details to make it comfortable.
As for why she decided this would be a good time to launch apparel, Blakeney said she’s been working in the home decor world for about a decade, but in her early 20s, she worked in fashion and lived in Italy. “It got to a point that I was at a MAGIC show and felt disgusted with the whole industry, and felt I needed to pivot and do something else. I didn’t like the messaging around what was going on around fashion at the time, I felt clothing wasn’t being made for me or people like me in different sizes, and I was ready for a change,” she said. That was in the early Aughts.
“But I’ve always loved fashion and I’ve always loved clothing as a form of self-expression,” she continued. “Now I’ve got a good little brand under my belt, and I have a really large library of prints and patterns from paintings, and people have been asking for years now, ‘when are you going to launch apparel?’ I wanted to launch it when I felt I could do it justice and could do all the things better than when I was working in fashion.”
The things that were important to her were that the fabrics were organic, she could put pockets wherever she could, and she wanted size-inclusivity. “This was the right time [to launch] because this was the time I was able to launch it from a financial perspective and a timing perspective where I didn’t have to make any compromises,” she said.
The line retails from $48 for a cropped solid tank top to $250 for a maxidress, said Blakeney. For the first year, it will be offered exclusively at jungalow.com. She said she plans to launch footwear in the spring, but couldn’t disclose who the partner is yet.
Blakeney grew up in Berkeley, Calif., where she became obsessed with international travel, flea markets, plants and textiles from an early age. She moved to Los Angeles to study world arts and cultures at UCLA, and upon graduation, set off to travel the globe. She ended up living, studying design and then working in Italy for the better half of her 20s, then returned to L.A.
In addition to running jungalow.com, Blakeney designs surface patterns and products for the homewares brand Justina Blakeney Home. She has a home collaboration with Anthropologie, and rugs and pillows with Loloi Rugs. “Some of our collections are at Target as well. We try and make things accessible,” she said. Blakeney’s style encourages people to experiment and decorate wildly.
“Creativity has no limits. Neither should clothing,” she said. “For years I’ve wanted to wear clothing that fit my curves, that was breathable, comfortable, versatile, chic and a little bit wild — and I couldn’t find it, so I finally decided to make it myself. My hope is that people from all walks of life feel comfortable, beautiful and totally themselves in our collection.”