“The energy that creates beauty is eternal. Blue Fish began as a dream. A desire to dress individually and expressively. Blue Fish endeavors to reach out, to inspire, and to connect people through the philosophy which is expressed and shared through the clothes we make.”
– Jennifer Barclay
Jennifer Barclay, at the age of 17, started making clothing for herself. She could find little to wear that expressed her creativity – clothes that said “I am me!”, that she felt comfortable in, that were fun and wearable and easy to care for. Her parents’ washing machine was taken over for Jennifer’s dyeing whims, and her garage at home quickly became a maze of drying t-shirts on clotheslines in every color of the rainbow. From the very start, the word ‘blue’ and the icon of a fish paired themselves together in a playful, natural way to create something that meant more than a color name. The word ‘blue’ was not always printed in its obvious color selection, and as time passed, Jennifer no longer saw it as a color word but simply as a word free of boundaries… topsy turvy and free to be anything she wanted it to be. The marriage of unusual shapes and colors began, and Blue Fish became a lasting icon for clothing without rules.
Her outside the box thinking with colors and patterns became the defining aspect of Jennifer’s clothing, almost from the start. With dreamlike prints and limitless color, there was nothing else like Blue Fish to be found in the world. Visiting craft fairs and music festivals on the east coast, the colorful, creative clothing quickly became regionally known. But it wasn’t until friends encouraged Jennifer to attempt the famed New York Pret in 1986, a major trade show, that Blue Fish exploded onto the scene. Jennifer received ten times the amount of orders she expected from the show – Blue Fish was the talk of the event, and by far the most popular booth. A heartfelt connection of souls united over clothing they had longed for – a way to be bold and be different.
Thrown into the world of production, Jennifer quickly wrangled textile suppliers, sewers, printers and artisans alike to help her pull together the overwhelming order and began to create the Blue Fish family. Friends helped friends, and the candle was burned at both ends as Jennifer and her small team slept on the floor of their newly-purchased Frenchtown, NJ location in an effort to meet their deadline. The work was always about fun, and the heart of Blue Fish was coaxed to life by many caring hands. After the success of the New York show, Blue Fish grew by unimaginable leaps and bounds. The heart and soul of Blue Fish’s free thinking appealed to more and more women like you, as they learned about the clothing.
All of the heart that built the Blue Fish history is still true today, and Jennifer has helped keep the ideals and beliefs true after so many years. So much of the Blue Fish inspiration comes from nature, and our health and farmland are interconnected and irreplaceable. For those reasons, in 1995, Jennifer turned toward Organic Cotton for Blue Fish fabric. Blue Fish clothing, and its customers, would strive to speak to the earth in a language beyond words: its actions. Now, all fabric used in Blue Fish clothing is certified organic. United by the spirit of individuality, Blue Fish customers meet to trade their Blue Fish items among one another, fostering the collectable and uniquely community-based feeling of the clothing and making our family grow in ever-widening circles.
Fairfield, Iowa and Frenchtown, NJ house the hand-printed designs that make up the creative clothing in beautiful, artisan built environments of textures, colors and visual delights. Artisans hand-print each piece of clothing on location, weaving their personal touches in the paint and stamp-carving to create a completely one-of-a-kind item for each collection. Since each piece of clothing is completely unique, just like our customers, Blue Fish lovers are always encouraged to come and play dress up in our stores. While Blue Fish has come a long way from Jennifer’s dorm room, it will always hold the values of the beginning true: the importance of creativity, the closeness of family and friends, and the brilliance of wearing your heart – and your art – on your sleeve. Let our clothes be the reflection of your spirit every day!