Skip to main content

Madonna (pictured with her son, David, and daughter, Lourdes) wears an Ed Hardy tee in Malawi earlier this year.

If you're rocking tattoo prints these days, don't even consider partying at Edmonton's The Pint, where the garish apparel inspired by biker culture is strictly verboten . That's right, Jon Gosselin: You wouldn't make it past the bouncer in those eye-popping threads you're so fond of wearing. Even Madonna, who donned an Ed Hardy tee in Malawi this year, could be kicked to the curb.

"It's associated with douchebags," David Frazier, The Pint's manager, says of the street wear, which is banned along with sweats, gang colours and blingy jewellery. According to Frazier, the aesthetic has been linked to bar fights. "Weekend millionaires? Those aren't the types we want in here."

Maybe not, but tattoo chic has nonetheless made a big splash in mainstream circles, from high-school hallways to high-fashion runways.

Story continues below advertisement

For spring 2010, high-end labels such as Chanel, Marchesa and Rodarte featured models sporting vibrant hand-painted tattoo impressions.

The defining brand, though, is Ed Hardy, an aggressively audacious tattoo-patterned clothing line from French designer Christian Audigier, who we also have to thank for the Von Dutch trucker hat craze of several years ago. The label's namesake, Iowa-born Don Ed Hardy, started as a tattoo artist before moving over to clothing design, his ink on fabric inspiring many knockoffs. Shopping sites such as, which promises "cutting-edge fashions," carries similar brands including Projex and Sailor Jerry Clothing.

What's the attraction? "Tattoo clothing sends a message of being faux tough," New York fashion stylist Colin Megaro says. "Every time someone passes me dressed in a piece of tattooed clothing, I immediately think of an aging rock star who hasn't developed a sense of style."

While Megaro has never dressed anyone in ink-inspired garb, he has a suggestion for people who "must" wear a tattooed tee: Slip a jacket overtop. "Let it peek out just slightly. Less is always more when it comes to these pieces."

And zero may be more when it comes to sunglasses, leggings, boots and bags branded with tattoo prints. After all, tat-covered babe Kat Von D of the reality show Miami Ink and the guys from Orange County Choppers can get away with such duds and accoutrements because they're genuinely immersed in ink and/or motorcycle culture.

But if you aren't tough enough to get a tat yourself, you probably shouldn't wear one on your hat.

Report an error Licensing Options
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at