We have some news for you if, when you think of “wearable works of art,” pictures of tie-dyed clothing or clothing that has been spray painted in full Y2K flair come to mind. The trend has improved significantly in recent years to the point where it now looks very amateurish and is much more desirable. Daniel Arsham asserts that 2022 will see a change in the value of art as a financial asset, “now that once passionate sneakerheads are selling their private collections to invest in art and collectibles.”
The eclectic sculpture in the hallway or the vibrant multimedia print over the bed are thrilling examples of investments in works of art, but what better way to display a new purchase than by wearing it? For precisely this reason, a sizable number of artists have chosen to produce original pieces of art directly on garments, establishing what can be called a “walking gallery” of enthusiasts all over the world. Now that Basquiat’s artwork can be found on the streets of the main European cities and art enthusiasts are no longer need to travel to New York to view one.
Owners of smartwatches can now link to a cryptocurrency wallet and view their NFTs on the watch face according to a recent upgrade from Tag Heuer, the Swiss luxury watchmaker owned by LVMH. This move, which has been dubbed the “ultimate status signal,” gives art ownership a whole new meaning. As the fashion industry fights fast-fashion culture and overproduction, artists and designers are presenting traditional works in unconventional ways.An example of this is the New York-based luxury menswear label Robert Graham, which for the fall/winter 2021 season released a series of collaborations with artists that reimagine works by legendary artists including Vincent Van Gogh, Leroy Neiman, and Ryan McGinness. In the instance of the London-based design firm Unaji&Co, sustainable fashion and art are dynamically combined. Fashion editorials or iconic photos of people like Kate Moss, Skepta, or David Bowie are recreated with the addition of drawn or painted features. By blurring the lines between fashion design and fine art, the images combine with clothing to produce one-of-a-kind wearable pieces of art.
The transversal character and multiple interests that set apart current icons—of which the late Virgil Abloh is possibly the ultimate embodiment—are contributing to the art world’s opening up to a new audience. His aptitude for fusing components from the fields of fashion, architecture, graphics, and, of course, art resulted in the creation of a cultural model for a new generation of creatives and sparked public interest.The incorporation of artwork has also persisted elsewhere, from printed T-shirts to graffiti merchandise to spray-painted nail art. A number of up-and-coming artists are using the airbrush trend to add a unique touch to their clothing, such as at the creative hub Creamy Studios, where recycled sweatshirts and t-shirts are renewed with popular designs, like smoking skeletons and demonic interpretations of Spongebob, which have gained notoriety among skate fans and incorporate elements of contemporary art. Kai-Isaiah Jamal’s Virgil Abloh tribute t-shirt has been making the rounds on social media.
One of the key factors contributing to wearable art’s rising popularity may be its tangible nature. Undoubtedly, one of the motivating factors is the idea of wearing clothing that took hours to make at a time when the majority of the things we own are mass-produced and lack character and uniqueness. Hand-illustrated clothing places a significant emphasis on craftsmanship, which is unattainable in the fast-fashion industry. As a result of seeing clothing as an investment and fortifying a bond that will endure forever, the relationship between art and fashion is not just a passing fad.