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When Art Becomes Wearable

An introduction

We often hear the term “wearable tech” floating around social media, news outlets, trendy bars, and grocery stores as the public clamors to products they can wear that also make their lives easier, or more fun. Fitbit fitness trackers, VR headsets, and body cameras are some of the most buzzed-about wearables on the market today.

But have you heard of a new phenomenon, called “Wearable Art?” This “new” phenomenon isn’t really new at all though. In fact, it dates back to the 1930s. Here’s what it is:

Wearable art to put it plainly that you wear. It involves, often handmade clothing or accessories that are created to be worn as an expression of art. Pieces of wearable art can be sold or exhibited as any piece of art would be, in modern-day art galleries.

Wearable art can take many forms including 3D, sculptural, or flat and is often made with techniques like knitting, leather tooling, weaving, dyeing, and sewing.


The origins of the wearable art movement date back to the early 1930s as evidenced by Marbeth Schon's book on modernist jewelry which refers to a "wearable art movement" between 1930 - 1960. Her book has now become somewhat of a bible for the art as jewelry industry.


The Trailblazer

Perhaps one of the earliest creators of wearable art was Vera Neumann. Vera Neumann and her husband began creating placemats and napkins based on her original artwork in their tiny NYC apartment. Putting her signature in the corner of each and every piece she made, Vera was unknowingly starting a revolution.

This revolution would lead to an empire of scarves, blouses, sportswear, and home decor adorned with her artistic creations.


Currently, The Museum of Arts and Design has an exhibition called “Vera Paints a Scarf” which analyzes and celebrates her contributions to the art and wearable art community. There are over 200 objects on display including her original paintings, scarves, dishes, table linens, press releases and more detailing her impressive ride to becoming a household name.*


Wearable Art for the Modern Era 

Today, wearable art is seeing a comeback for its unique and versatile form of expression. You can browse hundreds of sellers on websites like Etsy who sell their art in a wearable fashion or even search for local artists.


Morgan Udoh is a Baton Rouge based artist who embraces her African ancestry be crafting polymer clay jewelry and art inspired by Africa’s vibrant landscapes, cultures, and wildlife.

She currently offers two collections. The Sorrel collection is inspired by earth-tones and the African sorrel plant and the Iboga collection which pays homage to the Iboga plant with its orange and green notes.

You can view her creations here:


As for the future of wearable art, no one can really say. As wearable tech  develops, and people search for more unique ways to express themselves through fashion and accessories, we may be only scratching the surface of what’s to come in wearable art.