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TTSWTRS is the Eastern European designer creating wearable tattooed skins


TextKristen Bateman

Here she picks her favourites

TTSWTRS pieces are like a form of body modification: You can't tell where the clothing ends and begins. The designer Anna Osmekhina, a former costume designer and stylist based in Ukraine, works with emerging and established tattoo artists, transforming their designs into cotton pants, viscose blouses and denim blazers, structured shirts, lace wedding dresses and even cycling shorts. The result ends up looking like a body covered in tattoos – an extension of the clothing and skin.

“The concept of TTSWTRS was created by a strange incident that got me involved in this exciting subculture,” explains Osmekhina. “My friend was in a relationship with a tattoo master who had his whole body covered in tattoos and was acting like he saved the world. I was so thrilled with his energy that very soon I created a capsule of sweatshirts with a working title ‘tattoosweaters’.” Since its first iteration in 2013, the line launched at Colette in Paris and has now been sold at boutiques around the world.

“Searching for a tattoo master is always the most difficult moment in the process of creating a collection,” she explains. Thus far, one of the biggest collaborations she’s fostered with a tattoo artist has been with Kiev-based artist @edtattooer, who has added his own touch to many of her designs. “Very often great tattoo works on clothing look like prints, and we spend lots of time working with our web designer when testing tattoos on our naked clothing pieces. @edtattooer is most well-known for his really simple but stark black linework designs. His style is a combination of naive art techniques, references to specific works from the history of the art world (from the Creation of Adam by Michelangelo to the Dance of Matisse), elements of mysticism and optical illusions.”

As for the designer herself, she currently has just one small tattoo, a tiny red heart in honour of her granny, but she believes as she turns sixty, she’ll slowly begin covering her entire body with tattoos. Here, Osmekhina shares the inspiration behind six different tattoo clothing pieces.

Name: Tattoo “body” (Resort 19)

Inspiration: “We imagined what we’d do if we were to cover an elf girl with tattoos.”
Creation: “We found a very soft fabric, and we came up with the concept that in a tattoo-bodysuit you can be completely naked and dressed at the same time.”
Tattoo artist: @edtattooer, one of the biggest collaborators of the line. He’s mostly known as a linework artist who splits his time between Berlin and Kiev.
The process behind it: The designer chose specific tattoos from the artist and played around with placement to come up with different looks--a complicated process. “We placed tattoos on the piece very carefully, but nevertheless, it took us just three days to create this piece,” Anna says.

Name: Orenburg shawl (FW 18/19)

Inspiration: “I was inspired by the caption “Thanks, I don’t smoke”. I wanted to embroider something ironic and so completely opposite to the fragile, soft headwear.”
Creation: “Our talented embroiderer was very nervous because it was very difficult to add embroidery to a scarf without damaging and stretching it.”
Tattoo artist: @edtattooer, a personal favourite of the designer.
Why it’s personal to me: “I really love this shawl. I’m from Orenburg originally and this isn't just an accessory for me, it’s part of the cultural DNA and history of my hometown,” Anna says. “The ability to create a shawl like this there is a national treasure. In my childhood, I would often watch the process of Orenburg shawls being made – the masters tried to make it as weightless as possible. The best shawl was always the one that fit through a wedding ring.”

Name: Severed jacket (SS19)

Inspiration: A tattoo of hands reaching out to each other by @rostislaw_ts, made with dotwork tattoo technique, was the main inspiration for this piece, which the designer didn’t immediately imagine as a jacket.
Creation: “We did a print test with the works of a different tattoo artist on a piece of fabric, and it was just laying on the table during the fitting process,” says the designer. Later she decided to add the piece of fabric as an unconventional extension to this tailored jacket.
Tattoo artist: @rostislaw_ts, a tattoo artist who often uses the dotwork technique to create highly realistic works of art with a twist of surrealism.
The story behind the piece: The designer felt the piece was personal to her because of the active process behind the work. “I’m inspired by the fact that the clothes we create are very lively,” Anna says. “Each stage of the work we do gives the clothing new meanings.”

Name: Tattoo top-bra (FW 18/19)

Inspiration: The tattoo aesthetic of “the awesome master” @tattoo_sinyak.
Creation: “The top features works of two different tattoo masters,” Anna says. “We thought about what it would feel like to get tattoos from different masters with such powerful bodies of work and with such different tattoo techniques.”
Tattoo artist: @tattoo_sinyak was one of the main artists behind this piece. He is a stick and poke tattoo artist currently based in Moscow, known for his subtle designs of phrases like “I was made for loving,” or “Don’t panic.” Flower and butterfly tattoos by artist @sv__a also punctuate the piece.
Why it’s personal to me: “One of the tattoos looks like the emblem of the Soviet Union, “ she says. “The design is very strong visually for anyone who, like me, went to a Soviet school and dreamed of jeans and Adidas sneakers.”

Name: Wedding tattoo dress (FW 18/19)

Inspiration: “We imagined how a tender and translucent dress would look on a body covered with tattoos,” the designer says. The contrast of the lightweight fabric covered in tattoo patterns made for a strong juxtaposition.
Creation: “While creating the dress, we changed production three different times because of how hard the process was.”
Tattoo artist: @edtattooer
Why it’s personal to me: “At the time of creation, I decided it was exactly the dress I’d wear down the aisle,” Anna explains.

Name: Silk robe (FW 18/19)

Inspiration: The saying,“future is female”
Creation: “Our web designer offered to make this caption a little brighter as if it were the newest tattoo on the body instead of a faded, lived in tattoo.”
Tattoo artist: @edtattooer
Why it’s personal to me: “This down robe is as cosy as a home bathrobe,” says the designer. “I just feel stressed out when I have to wear heavy clothes, and this piece helps me personally with that stress.”

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