The person who sent me this is not to be offended, this is an opening but not an example. I actually mislaid her response which addressed my questions in a satisfactory way but this situation could have been like so many others. Let’s call her Carol. Carol writes:
I’m buying pfd fabrics, manufacturing the women’s tops and then hand painting and dyeing them. I have gleaned that there is a less than desirable connotation to the term ‘art wear’ in the industry. What is that? Where does this come from? I’m not planning to change the name anytime soon since I think it most accurately describes what I am doing, but perhaps I can avoid the pitfalls which have been so closely associated with the name. Thank you for your thoughts.
What you mean by “tops”? These days, a lot of people think a tee shirt is a blouse and a top can be anything from a tee to a blouse.
What are the retail prices of your items?
Where do you sell them and do you intend to go wholesale?
In your opinion, what is artwear?
You say artwear has a negative connotation. Why do you think this is and do you have any clues as to why?
Like I said, I lost her response, eaten in that h-hole I call an inbox.
For many, negative connotation can arise due to confusion and conflict between marketing vs selling strategies. As I mentioned before, designers pitch to a buyer the same way they pitch to a consumer and it doesn’t work (follow that link if you want to know what does work). If one goes wholesale, “artwear” is not an accepted segment so nobody knows where you fit into their mix. Artwear is not useful context for them to know if they want to buy from you. Buyers want to know if your stuff is contemporary, moderate etc. And since they’ve likely been pitched by innumerable artists with artwear -which can encompass anything from truly stellar individual pieces to puffy paint appliques slapped on a tee shirt- they’ll paint all comers with the same (worst) brush.
Artwear may be a useful term to put in your consumer directed marketing but you’ll have to be more descriptive using accepted apparel price point categories if you want to get the buyer’s attention. Like consumers, buyers get jaded having been duped many times (again, the old IKEA Effect ) because artwear, like couture, is in the eye of the beholder.
Maybe I am too traditional but I still think people should write proper garment descriptions. The product used in this example is from an artisan weaver yet it still works and looks very professional. Read that and then consider how you would describe your products now.
Speaking of, all of the photographs in this entry are the top ranked returns for a google search on artwear so as grudging as we may be to admit it, buyers have a point.