Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tattoos On Cloth

What does Carmen Electra, Chris Brown, Jessica Alba, and Madonna all have in common?

They all got caught by the paparazzi sporting Ed Hardy clothing.

The fashion line has expanded from being clothing for tattoo enthusiasts to apparel for everyone. This growth in popularity only furthers the idea that tattoo culture and art is becoming more mainstream then ever. It’s known that in previous decades, tattoos were for sailors and convicts. With the negative stigma now becoming faded, tattoo culture is more accepted.

Tattoo inspired apparel gives the customer a way to wear designs that they like without having to get them permanently inked on their body. Ed Hardy was inspired greatly by Sailor Jerry Collins when Hardy began his tattooing career. Not until 2004 did Ed Hardy’s art become a clothing line when French designer Christian Audigier became licensed to produce the line. On top of his shirts, jeans, hats, wallets, and other apparel, Hardy has also started his own fragrance line for both men and women. Some of his products have extended to what could be seen as an extreme way to sell his products with air fresheners, shower curtains, and even candy.

As with any clothing line that gains popularity, there has been a string of counterfeit websites and brands appearing. Some people are critics to just how mainstream Ed Hardy has made tattoo inspired apparel, and that due to his success his prices seem to run higher then other companies. Some of his long sleeved men’s T-shirts can run from $45 to $150; purses from $70 to $160. Ed Hardy is one of the most popular tattoo inspired clothing lines but definitely not the only one.

Other tattoo artists have tried to reach the success that Hardy has created. Small clothing lines started by artists have emerged like Paul Berkey’s line Warped Clothing. Like many other artists, he does not rely solely on his clothing line but also works in graphic design, fine art, and obviously, tattooing.

Smaller lines are also catering to different styles of tattoo designs and different audiences. While most seem to prefer old school designs, new lines are appearing such as Fly Fresh that target more urban buyers. Even they have to disclaimer on the website that they are not Ed Hardy knock offs, but an authentic brand.

Another trend in tattoo apparel comes from the rise in pin up clothing. Many lines have been started to support women who want to embody that image of being a pin up. Hanah Reed, who started The Rockit Roost, dedicates a whole section of her website to tattoo culture Of course the main purpose of the website is to view and purchase her 1950’s inspired pin up clothing, but it has taken on a life of its own. What used to be just a sexy idea for a Halloween costume is now another type of tattoo inspired apparel.

Though not all pin up outfits sport tattoo designs like a skull or swallow, they still seem to embody that retro feeling of old school tattoo flash. The trend coincides with a rise in this style of tattoos, which includes pin ups, while skate clothing brands have been using tattoo designs since the 1990's. Companies like Etnies have moved from just printing their logo on their shoes and clothing to adding tattoo like designs (with skulls seeming to be the most popular).

Tattoo apparel not only sports designs inspired by tattoo art, but also considers the locations of the images. A standard T-shirt has a print on the center of the front or the back, while some tattoo inspired apparel has changed the location of the image based on where a tattoo might go. For example, shirts will have the image going up the side, forming to fit where a rib tattoo would lay. The same is true for some having small designs on the lower back like the infamous ‘tramp stamp’ or designs on chest and shoulders.

There are critics who oppose this rise in tattoo culture, and place some blame on the popularity of apparel. However many feel that this rise only further supports what artists have been pushing for since the 1950's, and that is that tattoos really are art.

Article: Brittney Herz
Facebook: Brittney Dianne

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