Fashion was never a simple business by any means, but it did used to have unwritten guidelines as to what was considered part of it. As the industry continues to expand and grow, fashion has broadened its acceptability to the breadth of “accessorizing” to cope with drastically changing social trends. What used to be about colors, fabrics and cuts has now extended to the body itself and helps explain why “inking” is a recession proof business. Just to look at the obvious facts for moment, the 2012 Harris Polls show 1 in 5 Americans have at least one tattoo on their body (21%). This is up from 14% in 2008. Currently 80% of poll testers think they make no difference to the respect or attractiveness of the person and only half of participants think body art is rebellious. A rather dramatic difference from 10 years ago where body art was considered a bold statement.
Some celebrities seen using body art to compliment their outfits (which in the past had be unannounced but rather noticeable) are Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox. In the past, Jolie would pick out outfits that display her tattoos making them the center of attention, wisely selecting mostly whites and blacks to avoid drowning out the notable scripture on her back. Fashion designer Nicole Richie currently a mentor on NBC’s hit show “Fashion Star” made famous the ankle rosary of a cross necklace to supplement the heels she often wears. However, it might be more useful to see how the average person uses tats to their fashion advantage. After all, us “laymen” don’t have stylists at our beck and call. There is a great user-based tattoo social media site Slingerville.com site with a section on ink fashion to see the do's and don'ts of fashion tats to give everyone some ideas for the planning stages! With permanence comes risk, but risk has always been an attractive factor in fashion.
Many tattoo parlors across America (up 20% from last year based on current trend reports) have seen an increase in requests for body art in easily spotted places such as shoulder’s, upper back, chest and lower stomach for women, mostly to go with today's current fashion trends. Celebrity tattoo parlor in West Hollywood, The Velvet Grip (velvetgripfamily.com), which has worked with celebs such as Drew Barrymore and Bam Margera, has visibly seen this increase in body parts that flaunt rather than personalize their designs.
But what makes body art such an attractive idea to include in fashion? I think the answer lies in the permanence of it. It is a primal, exciting desire seeping its way slowly but steadily into the business. No matter how the industry evolved into different trends, its values always laid in expression of ones self. Having a permanent brand on your body exclusive to personal thoughts, values, and experiences is about as custom and expressive as you can get.
I hope to see this phenomenon gain even more exposure and prominence within the community, because once it is brought to the forefront of fashion consumers we may see a new era for the industry.