The Perfect Fit: Wearable Art

Peggy Russell and her team hand-dye each large silk chiffon “Pareo/Wrap” scarf at Iro Design. Credit: coleimage.com.

Say goodbye to the days of oversized, loose-fitting jackets, tops and coats. Artists know what customers want—and it’s a more tailored fit that is both attractive and comfortable.

“It is very important to make a design that is flattering and a pattern that fits well,” says Anja Broenink of Anya SF. “I like the piece to fall naturally on the body,” Danielle Gori-Montanelli says of her felt collars, “to become one with the top the person is wearing.”

Color can also determine best sellers, which is why artists pay such close attention to it. Whether the line is focused for professional wear, with complementary muted tones, or for special occasions and casual events, offbeat and vibrant, color is always one of the first considerations.

“Color combinations are an essential part of marketability,” says Lauren Dreiling of Hopestone Studio. “We try to offer combinations for every skin type and hair color, while offering fresh and new combinations that will spice up a wardrobe.”

Fabric choice is also critical. Designers range from favoring silk—“I’m a big fan of the flow,” says Peggy Russell of Iro Design. “It’s resilient, shimmery, matte and it lasts.”—to skin-soft cotton and eco-friendly fabrics. Anna Shapiro of Annaesthetic, for instance, fell in love with bamboo fiber in 2005, and Broenink reinvents old T-shirts, leveraging the patterns to great effect.

But what all of these designers are out to prove is how often women (and men) of all ages gravitate to their work for its uniqueness, durability, perfect fit and, above all else, connection to the artist.

“My customers express great satisfaction for having the opportunity to buy and wear handmade accessories and clothing created by a domestic artist,” explains Shapiro. “This one degree of separation between the maker and the wearer transcends the actual object, creating an attitude that both find essential to their identity.”

Click through to read profiles of five American artists who offer everything from silk tops splashed with bright colors to felt collars that liven up everyday outfits.

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