Q+A: Le Chien Bleu

Known for its unique prints, pullovers and cooling jackets, Le Chien Bleu is committed to creating and designing fashionable, practical, and premium quality dog clothes for all weather conditions. We sat down with JY Lee, Owner of Le Chien Bleu, and Anita Lee, Director of Marketing, to talk about the passion and love they both give to their furbabies and the products at Le Chien Bleu!

{This interview has been edited for length and clarity.}

Can you give us some background and insight into the story of Le Chien Bleu? How did you guys get started with this business?

Anita: Lee originally started on Etsy.com, as an independent, e-commerce store. I came around as a customer actually. I was looking for clothes for Benji (my dog). Because Benji is a breed of dog that has hair instead of fur, he’s always cold, especially in the winter. So, as I was trying to look for good quality and stylish dog clothing, I found Lee’s store on Etsy. I told her, “O.K., so this is my first time owning a dog. I don’t know how to measure a dog, I don’t know anything about dog clothing. Can we meet up somewhere so that you could measure my dog and I can buy some clothes for him?” And that’s how the two of us met. After ordering a couple of products from Lee, I thought, “This is great quality, she is really talented”. Then I proposed the idea of working together. With my business development background, I can bring this business to another level. She agreed and we decided to work together. Everything just sort of came together.

What would you say sets Le Chien Bleu apart from other pet stores or pet product stores?

JY: I worked for a textile studio for five years. At the time, I designed prints specifically for women. But then I decided to do something on my own. Thanks to my knowledge of fabrics, we actually design all of our prints. I don't think there are many companies out there that actually design their own prints and also manufacture the clothes. I'm very picky about the fabrics that I use. I often choose organic ones, like bamboo fabric.

Anita: We develop all our clothes, and we actually test them on our own dogs. The sizing, the style, and even the trim of the T-shirt all need to be tested. For example, it’s important that when a dog shakes, the product does not slide or flip. We make sure that a dog can run, play, sleep, or do anything that a dog does while still being comfortable. Some people may think, “Oh, the dog looks cute in clothes”, but to us, it’s also about functionality. For Benji, for example, he needs to wear clothes in the wintertime or otherwise he would freeze to death. Some dogs, Frenchies for example, are ultra sensitive with their skin. Clothes will protect the skin from things that cause skin irritations or allergies. It’s not just clothes used for fashion purposes. So we're designing those clothes or products with the thought in mind that we are making their lives better.

Every product that we source and develop is based on our desire to make the human's life easier and the dog's life better.

So as you mentioned, you guys design and produce all of your own stuff. What’s the thought process that goes behind designing each product?

JY: I use Pinterest a lot. I also go to Vogue fashion shows to check on all the current fashion trends. What's out there? What kind of new prints are coming? Then I need to filter them out since some prints only look good on humans. You have to find out what kind of prints would actually work for dogs. And then I add more vivid, fascinating, and fun colors.

What made you guys decide to come to DUMBO for your store?

JY: It was kind of a coincidence. We were online at the time, only selling our clothes. I then had to move to a new apartment. With the offer on my apartment then, I would have to sell it. But I was also making an art space in my basement, and I realized that I wouldn't be able to sell my apartment with all the art projects there.

So then I started to look for a place to work. At the time I wasn't really looking for a retail space. However, in DUMBO, the retail space I found was even cheaper than other office spaces. It was really unexpected. Once I moved here, I hired some artists and made it look really nice.

We make sure that a dog can run, play, sleep, or do anything that a dog does while still being comfortable.

If you guys had to choose one product that's your favorite or your favorite for your own dog, what would it be?

Anita: In the upcoming winter collection, we have merino wool sweaters, puffer jackets and raincoat. Everything is designed by Lee from scratch, right now it is under the testing period. My favorite would be the merino wool sweater collection. Merino wool is a natural fiber grown by Merino sheep. It’s thinner and softer than regular wool—making it easy to wear next to skin. And when worn next to skin, it brings a lot of benefits. Additionally, natural fabrics will not cause any skin irritations and allergies for those sensitive dogs. For those cold NYC winter times, we have got our furbabies covered.

We also don't typically just source any products. We think about the convenience for the dog owners, and we want to create good products that are really going to benefit dogs. So every product that we source and develop is based on our desire to make the human's life easier and the dog's life better. This is our goal.

And our last question: What are your favorite spots in DUMBO?

JY: I love Cecconi's. The view is amazing: right at the river. Being by the water is very nice, and the food is good.

Jax and Benji in Le Chien Bleu's products
Jax and Benji in Le Chien Bleu's products

Mentioned in this article

Cecconi's Dumbo