Bethany Clough

Retail Therapy: Painted jeans put spotlight on local student

Yazmine Enriquez, 20, is fashion merchandising student at Fresno City College and a GUESS employee. Her hand painted jeans are putting her in the spotlight, with one pair traveling to Italy for a special event.
Yazmine Enriquez, 20, is fashion merchandising student at Fresno City College and a GUESS employee. Her hand painted jeans are putting her in the spotlight, with one pair traveling to Italy for a special event. SPECIAL TO THE BEE

One pair of painted jeans can symbolize a lot: Taking a stand against rape, a local student’s future in fashion and a growing fashion trend.

Yazmine Enriquez, 20, of Kerman, works for GUESS, a clothing store at Fashion Fair mall, and participated in a Denim Day project in which workers from each store painted a pair of jeans. She’s also a fashion merchandising student at Fresno City College.

And she’s getting a lot of attention for that pair of jeans.

The jeans — which feature koi fish, a geisha, Buddha and other images — are now in Italy, where they were worn by models at a VIP event related to Denim Day.

What’s Denim Day?

It’s a global movement that protests violence and raises awareness of misconceptions about sexual assault. Marked on April 29, the day stems from an Italian rape case in 1998. A driving instructor was convicted of raping a student. The conviction was overturned when a judge ruled it must have been consensual because the woman was wearing tight jeans and must have helped him remove them. To show solidarity, women in the Italian parliament came to work wearing jeans.

To find out more about the movement, visit http://denimdayinfo.org/.

The jeans that Enriquez painted featured the words “Peace over violence” and other references to the day.

She used fabric paint on the jeans (and yes, her jeans can be handwashed and air dried). Enriquez didn’t even get a full night’s sleep while working on them, opting for a couple of naps and lots of coffee.

“The jeans actually helped my parents realize I was serious about fashion,” she says. “My dad was like, ‘You seriously stayed up three days to work on these?’”

As part of her fashion merchandising class at city college taught by Pamela Hutton, Enriquez had to a create a business — real or fictitious. She chose to create a theoretical company focused on painting denim. The assignment called for market research, so she asked community members what they thought of her painted jeans.

Hutton says Enriquez seemed surprised at how well people reacted to photos of the jeans and the potential business.

“When she was giving her report in class she was fighting tears because she was so surprised and overjoyed at the response,” Hutton says.

It would be a viable business, Hutton says.

“I think it’s a fantastic,” she says. “I would like to be a customer.

Enriquez is still figuring out her next steps. She’s working on jeans for her little cousins, customizing each one to their liking. The 7-year-old cousin wanted a bunny rabbit with a mustache.

Enriquez is also working on a pair requested by the owner of restaurant Wassabi Off the Hook in Fig Garden Village. The jeans, which will feature koi fish and sushi, will be framed and hung on the wall.

And Enriquez is still in school, with plans to finish her degree with the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She’s eyeing a Master’s program in Hong Kong.

Enriquez’ denim-painting skills are getting attention just as denim itself is getting popular, especially painted denim. Major fashion designers are doing it, Hutton says.

Anthropologie sells $248 jeans with white paint splattered on the legs. Online seller of handmade goods Etsy.com sells painted jean jackets, shorts and jeans. And the Rialto Jean Project sell jeans featuring colorful paint brushstrokes, with profits benefiting children’s hospitals.

The jeans are a way to express individuality, Enriquez notes: “It’s pretty much a statement piece on its own.”

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