“Second skin” is the creative synergy behind Ukrainian clothing brand, Ttswtrs (pronounced “tattoo sweaters”), which melds the appeal of body modification with skintight looks and flesh-toned palettes.
The first collection sold out in one week’s time at Colette, the now-closed Parisian concept boutique famous for attracting the likes of a variety of celebrity namesakes. Here, the founding designer of Ttswtrs, Anna Osmekhina, speaks to WWD about her brand, which is made in Kiev, Ukraine, and prioritizes collaboration with an unlikely muse — the tattoo artist.
WWD: What is the meaning behind the brand Ttswtrs?
Anna Osmekhina: An accidental meeting with the tattoo artist Yen Levin pushed me to create Ttswtrs. I was excited about how free he feels while being completely covered in tattoos. So I offered him a mini-project — to make comfortable clothes for our creative colleagues who spend a lot of time on sets. The main idea of the project is clothing as a second skin.
When creating, I explore the experience of a person who decides to decorate his body with a tattoo: including the pleasure of getting a tattoo, the awareness of choosing your design, your tattoo master and your moment. I want my customer to experience at least some of these emotions by wearing Ttswtrs.
WWD: Do you have tattoos? If so, how many and what are your favorites?
A.O.: I would definitely get my body tattooed if I was sure that all these pictures remained relevant for me in a year. I only have a little heart on my arm in honor of my granny. I was brought up by her in Orenburg, [Russia], and she is a real rock star for me.
WWD: What do you appreciate about tattoo artists and their community? How does this translate into your designs?
A.O.: I perceive tattoo masters to be very special, living in their own world. I greatly admire them, and at the same time, I am very confused by them. Sometimes, during conversations with a tattoo artist or just looking through her work, I start to imagine the kind of “bodies” I would place certain designs. If I am very inspired, then I can even invent additional components for certain tattoos.
WWD: Who are some of the most well-known collaborators (tattoo artists) to date?
A.O.: Among the 10 artists with whom we collaborated during five years of our brand’s existence, the most well-known are @ien_levin from Belarus with his dark graphic works and Korean artist @hugotattooer, who creates cartoon artworks.
WWD: How does your training/experience as a costume designer and celebrity stylist inform your design process?
A.O.: The design process differs a lot, but in general, it influences as much as any experience concerning hard work and discipline. Thanks to that, I am very comfortable working under deadlines and taking responsibility.
WWD: What have been major milestones as a brand, and what do you hope to conquer next?
A.O.: The main milestone of Ttswtrs is that the first collection sold out during only one week in Colette. And from the second collection, the brand began selling in Japan. Then, after two years of existence, we launched a demicouture line “Alice In Ink,” which also saw success and was immediately sold to Les Suites in Paris.
Next was the collaboration with artist, @edtattooer, whose style clearly determined the identity of our brand. And now we are absolutely proud of being sold in [New York-based] VFiles, as it was our dream from the very beginning.
With presenting her latest collection at Paris Fashion Week, Osmekhina added that the collection is “quite different from what we did before.”