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Horiyoshi the Third: Tattoowear with low-key luxe

August 3, 2010 |  6:00 am


We're thinking the whole tattoo art/clothing line thing may have just about run its course, but if you still find yourself hankering for some threads covered in tattoo flash art but worry about being mistaken for a "Jersey Shore" housemate, check out Horiyoshi the Third, a line of high-end men's and women's casual clothes, scarves and jewelry that's so to the market its second stateside season's just now hitting store shelves.

The namesake (and co-founder) of the line is Japanese tattoo artist Horiyoshi III, who has been inking skin in his Yokohama studio for the last 35 years, specializing in a classical Japanese woodblock print style and imagery of mythological creatures, warriors and the natural elements.

Although Horiyoshi III and co-founder Steve Suk launched the line overseas back in October 2008*, and the brand is already distributed in Japan and Europe, the collection didn't reach the tattoo-art-saturated shores of the U.S. until about six months ago -- where, it was promptly picked up by some of the highest profile boutiques around (locally that means Ron Herman at Fred Segal Center Melrose and Maxfield in West Hollywood).

We just spent some time flipping through the label's Fall/Winter 2010-2011 online look book, and the clean, monochrome depictions of masks, tentacles, bamboo and feathers on merino wool turtlenecks, T-shirts, shawls, hoodies and scarves is a welcome departure from the cacophony of clutter that defines most tattoo-inspired apparel.

What remains to be seen is now that Horiyoshi the Third has opened a beachhead in the U.S. market, will the American consumers have the intestinal fortitude to open their collective wallets for $160 tattooed T-shirts and $950 inked-up outerwear?

We're guessing that if it can happen anywhere, it'll be here in Los Angeles. So stay tuned.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Pieces from the Fall/Winter 2010-2011 Horiyoshi the Third tattoo-inspired casual wear collection, the second season to be distributed in the U.S. Credit: Adam Whitehead

[*UPDATED 8/5/2010: An earlier version of this post listed the wrong year for the brand's launch.]