There’s a curious magnetism to the presence of tattoos: a subliminal desire for a body covered in ink which, through the tat-tinted lense of singularity, appears far more alluring than the insipidity of our own skin.
Anna Osmiekhina, the Founder and Designer of TTSWTRS – which stands for Tattoo Sweaters – explores this notion in her latest collection. By placing such intricately decorated silhouettes and surfaces in our view, it’s not hard to get lost in the wavy Hokusai-like illustrations adorning the garments by Japanese tattoo master Nissaco and Nikita Khomiakov of Home Jack Tatoo. “Tattoo in its essence is an embodiment of a deliberate choice of living here and now and feeling free,” a press release states.
The Ukrainian brand has made waves in the industry with inspired designs for the likes of Sita Abellan, Tommy Cash and Nicki Minaj under its belt. Can you picture those patterned tights Grimes wore, with the backdrop of a shadow-cast crane, back in March? Well, that was TTSWTRS, holding true to its rara avis tattooed look.
Anna admits that she has never been brave enough to permanently etch anything onto her skin, but it’s this apprehension that spurred her to design clothing as a second skin where “tattoos are the only true way to decorate it”.
Dubbed, The Water Series, the collection emerges from the essence of H2O and the necessity of sustainability, moving from a standout tulle gown and an illustrated motorcycle jacket to contouring corsets and bodysuits. The Kyiv-based designer aimed to create a “water body” through her wet-look designs. “Water is everything,” she tells BRICKS over zoom. “Water should take the main stage because in about 32 years our oceans won’t have any life left. It’s time to stop and think.”
The collection is made up of only 43 pieces, moving away from TTSWTRS’ usual 140 in a bid to do just that. Crafted from 100 percent cotton and silk, or fabrics fashioned from 50 to 80 percent upcycled plastic bottles, each garment is a result of this endeavour. The production team spent two years sourcing these viable materials until they finally hit home in Italy. But the brand also “refused chemical dying”, which has been naturally remedied using the natural pigments of fruits and other vegetation.
Water should take the main stage because in about 32 years our oceans won’t have any life left. It’s time to stop and think.
Each garment is crafted after several extensive stages of experimentation and innovation involving a dedicated experimental workshop that knuckled down to make the graphics appear melded with the material. However, after just two days the design team had pulled together a comprehensive set of sketches and were raring to go for the new season. Think patent catsuits, swollen evening gloves, and convertible puffer jackets – all in white with touches of azure blue and jet black emerging as audacious accents, creating a sweeping sense of hydration. The designer works her subdued shades into an oversized sweatsuit, a slinky slip dress and a unitard closely resembling the rippling waves of a pool as one idly floats on its surface. From beginning to end, fabrics were permeated by imitations of icebergs melting in oil, tsunami waves and type stating: “Youth Strikes For Climate.”
What’s really special is how the conscientious garments on display come equipped with cutting-edge tags unlike anything else this AW 21/22 season – formed from recycled plastic, embossed with the TTSWTRS logo, and filled with brilliant blue water. “I dreamt of having this bright water inside the tag,” the multidisciplinary designer starts. “It’s something I’m really in love with.”
Anna’s most adored piece from the aqueous collection is a tattooed bathrobe, crafted strategically to appear as though it’s wet. It’s a lustrous look, draped over the body of a free-spirited girl as ripples of fabric cascade into the obsidian floor. “This item provokes a feeling that something has gone wrong with it. It’s very emotional,” she explains. “I can’t help but think of it as art.”
For Anna, there’s catharsis in creation. “I feel that I’m the happiest person ever to have the possibility to be so close to this beauty,” she explains.
The Water Series came together for a collection where art entangles fashion: “as an extension of the clothing and skin”. So, silhouettes are sleek and experimental, yet practical, navigating the intersections of ethics, utility and sensuality, transcending the bounds of any specific classification. “For somebody it’s sportswear; for me it’s my-wear; for somebody else it’s strange-wear.”
With its fundamental graphic flourishes, sexy sportswear and elements of dark glamour, this TTSWTRS collection sends a soul-splitting signal to the world about the subcultural significance of ink, skin and the self. “After all, skin as a dividing line between our inner and outer world is also the first way of communication,” reads the press release. And that is why TTSWTRS is about accepting your own body and expressing yourself through it.”
For TTSWTRS’ 14th collection, The Water Series, it ushers in a new kind of sustainability eternalised by the illusion of a body covered in ink.
Emily Phillips is a BIPoC Canadian writer presently based in North London. She is a current BA: Fashion Journalism student at University of the Arts London: London College of Fashion. Emily has an insightful, creative, and seductive voice that shines through in her writing. Her work has been published in 10 Magazine and Coeval Magazine, as well as the 2021 book Networked Futures: Online Exhibitions and Digital Hierarchies from the digital art gallery platform isthisit?
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