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The OBIKO Artwear Archive

The Obiko Artwear Archive documents and celebrates Bay Area clothing and jewelry designers whose work was showcased from 1970’s through 1990’s at Sandra Sakata’s Sutter Street San Francisco boutique, Obiko. The archive includes Obiko memories collected from selected designers, designer biographies, and a history resource index. It includes a collection of over 300 digitized photographs from its 28 featured designers.

Download the Obiko Archive (18 MB PDF)

The information on this page is adapted from 14th Annual Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings, The Obiko Archive, presented by Jean Cacicedo and Ana Lisa Hedstrom in September 2014:

The term Artwear defined objects artistically driven and hand crafted during a period in history where anti­‐establishment and anti­‐fashion attitudes prevailed. Artisans creating art wear were nationwide, from coast to coast, and belonged to this very American studio craft culture of handmade objects.

On the east coast, by 1976, Julie Schaffler Dale’s renowned “Julie: Artisans Gallery" on Madison Avenue, NYC, was well established and recognized as the premier Artwear east coast gallery. Central to the west coast phenomena was Obiko. First established in1972, Obiko designers played a significant role in the cultural identity of San Francisco and influenced many others working in the textile arts.

Sandra Sakata was a creative force in the art wear movement and became an icon in her own right as a brilliant stylist and muse. She had a unique talent for creating ensembles of various designers and her clientele embraced her ethic approach to fashion by walking out of the store, transformed and content in their new look. Together Obiko and her designers created a synergy extraordinaire. A seat at her fashion shows was the hottest ticket in town! Sandra died in 1997 at age 57.

Several books and publications have brought attention to the Artwear movement. Most notably, Art­‐To­‐Wear by Julie Schaffler Dale, published in 1986 and Melissa Levetons’ 2005 comprehensive catalogue that accompanied the exhibition Artwear Fashion Anti‐Fashion, at the Asian Museum. 

The concept for the archive began in 2011 with a desire to document Bay Area Artwear history. Research began in 2012 when the Textile Arts Council board of directors created a History Committee, led by board members Jean Cacicedo and Ana Lisa Hedstrom. Paramount to building this archive was to research and contact all the local designers involved with Obiko’s artist community. Letters were sent out to designers but not all responded. Obtaining photographs of objects created 30 years ago became either problematic or impossible for some and locating works to be re­‐photographed specifically for this archive was not an option nor our strategy. The final selection of photographs were scanned in a 72 dpi format as a means to avoid possible pirating of desirable high resolution photos and to also skirt copyright issues. All designers who participated agreed to this condition.

A very special thanks to all the participating designers featured in this archive. We thank you all for footing the bill to provide us with your own digitized images, biographies, memories and historical photographs. All of the images included in the archive are vintage photographs, taken during their time of execution and exhibit a stunning example of the work created during the Obiko era. The Textile Arts Council hopes that the archive will be a great discovery and resource for future generations.

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