At one time, choosing to “wear” body art was a very permanent decision. Nowadays, however, tattoos are being incorporated into fashion, providing an alternative way for people to wear their favorite designs without going under the needle. TTSWTRS, short for Tattoo Sweaters, was launched back in 2013 by Ukrainian clothing and costume designer Anna Osmekhina. After graduating from the Latvian College of Applied Arts, she began designing for Rigas Modes in 1979 and later became their leading couturier, creating 20 collections whilst there. Her contemporary fashion label TTSWTRS is unique in that it sees clothing as a second skin and tattoos as the only true way to adorn it. Her pieces are therefore used as a temporary form of body modification.
Tattoos first appeared on catwalks in 1971, when Japanese designer Issey Miyake first presented his controversial A/W “Tattoo” collection. His designs were politically charged, challenging both conservatism and how marked bodies are perceived. Others followed, including Martin Margiela (1989) and Jean Paul Gautier (1994), both of whom referenced body art in their collections. Later, tattooist Don Ed Hardy also famously licensed his artwork to Christian Audigier. Hardy’s rose, skull and dagger designs became well-known, appearing on clothing, merchandise, perfume and more throughout the early 2000s. More recently, Marc Jacobs enlisted the help of his tattoo artist Scott Campbell, to create ornate designs for a range of leather bags. He also designed the temporary tattoos worn by Jacobs’ male models at the Louis Vuitton Spring 2011 menswear show.
TTSWTRS stems from a creative project which was later developed into a fashion label after a chance meeting with tattoo artist Ien Levin (@ien_leven). Osmekhina explains that she was “excited about how free he feels while being completely covered in tattoos.” Despite only having one small tattoo of a red heart in honor of her granny, she decided to create a brand of clothing that would allow wearers to experience what it feels like to have a tattoo. The concept was that wearers could temporarily alter their appearance by choosing a design to wear on their body, without having a permanent tattoo. The first TTSWTRS collection was a hit and sold out in just one week at Collette in Paris. Following a second collection, the label is now sold in boutiques across Japan, Russia, Germany, Italy, France, the USA and more.
Pieces in the collection range from basics to mesh, bodysuits to denim and corsets to utility outerwear. The items are often sheer and slightly risqué. Where the fabric appears fragile, somehow the wearer exudes strength. Muted colors such as nude and black are used predominantly, providing a contrasting background for the bold tattoo designs. This is simple, but effective, framing the tattoos as the main feature of each item. The artwork is strategically positioned by the designer and is either embroidered or silk-screened onto the fabric with great care. The idea is that you cannot tell where the clothing starts or ends, giving the illusion that the skin itself is tattooed - at least from a distance.
TTSWTRS has so far collaborated with 10 Instagram tattoo artists in order to develop artwork for each collection. Osmekhina’s biggest collaboration to date is with Kyiv-based tattooist Ed Tattooer who is known for his simple black linework, optical illusions, and references to works from the history of the art world in his tattoos. Others who have created pieces for the label include Arnest Makhin, Rostislav Tsarenko and Audrey Svetov, as well as Nesheva Ulyana who creates sensual drawings and Korean artist Hugo aka hugotattooer who specializes in cartoon artwork. Other styles used include minimalism, dotwork, calligraphy and floral pieces, each of which expresses a message or tell a story through the original artistry.
Each unique item of clothing is designed to attract attention and promote intrigue. Osmekhina aims to mimic the feelings of both tattooed individuals and their observers through her striking clothing designs. The idea is to imitate the excitement and wonder felt by people admiring others’ tattoos, while empowering the previously overlooked wearer with a renewed sense of individuality, without the need for permanent ink.
So, if you like to be bold and you’re not afraid of making a statement, look no further. TTSWTRS clothing label gives you the best of both worlds. You can now choose to temporarily adorn your skin with original body art, without spending hours under the needle. Osmekhina’s contemporary designs offer a clever way to express yourself through the art of tattooing, whilst removing the need for a long-term commitment. Avoid the dreaded healing process of the real thing and wear your temporary design straight away. Find your perfect piece online today.