As the saying goes, art is where you find it. Thanks to John-Marshall Stubbs, MBA’14, art now can be found on one of the unlikeliest of canvases: swimwear. Stubbs selects original, colorful paintings and then adapts them for imprinting on men’s and women’s swimsuits, which he sells through his company, Curated Clothing.
Growing up in Dallas, Stubbs was immersed in art—and commerce—from a young age. His mother owned a gallery, and he spent his early years visiting galleries and art fairs. After college, where he majored in art history and minored in business, he ran a second outlet of his mother’s gallery.
But the entrepreneurship bug also bit him early, so he soon came to Babson for his MBA. Shortly after graduating, Stubbs came across a process called sublimation printing, which makes it possible to reproduce high-resolution images on polyester fabric. Inspired, he pondered the potential of various printed products before having a eureka moment: “At three in the morning, I shot out of bed and wrote down ‘swimsuits,’ so I wouldn’t forget it.” That was in July 2014; he set to work researching manufacturers and had his first sample suit ready that December.
Today, Curated Clothing sells numerous styles online and in several retail stores. The business has changed the way Stubbs looks at paintings. “Now, when I see a piece of art,” he says, “I think in terms of how I can cut it up and put it on a swimsuit.” Stubbs also has become skilled at manipulating images in Photoshop to make them swimsuit-ready.
His cred as a former gallerist makes artists comfortable working with him, says Stubbs. Each suit is labeled with the artist’s name and signed, and Stubbs, who works with about 16 artists, takes his mission seriously. “I’m not just buying an image,” he says. “It’s an art gallery you wear.”
Now living in Los Angeles, Stubbs wears his own creations frequently. “I go to the beach a couple of times a week,” he says, “and every time, someone says, ‘That’s a cool swimsuit.’”