Patches - the new make do and mend

By Andrea Carlotta Montaguti

The Trend
Walking around the streets, leafing through the magazines, browsing on Pinterest and Etsy, we’ve all noticed how patches and pin badges are becoming quite a thing in today’s fashion trends. Why do we see embroidered patches just about everywhere these days? Where do those cute cloth badges come from? 

The Origins
The one of the patches is an art decades old; their history lays its roots back to thousands of years ago, in ancient cultures of the Mediterranean, Mideast, China, India and South America. The art of decorating fabric used to be employed to embellish the robes of the ones who played a distinctive role in the 
society, especially for Royals and religious figures. Here are some examples below.

The Kidult
The embroidered patches trend broke through not only western countries but also eastern: China's and Japan's markets are especially influenced by the kidult, a social phenomenon spreading in the last years. The new term is a result of the words  “kid” and “adult”, and refers to “a so-called grown-up who doesn’t want to grow up”. 

What is the reason behind this social trend? Psychologist Pei Xiuqing argues that especially adults born in the 1970's and 80’s, are willing to express themselves though colours and patches to contrast their square shaped working lives.

More recently
Patches were worn to cover holes or labels or damaged parts of garments, especially in military and scouting clothing. But it’s back in the 60s when they became part of a fashion trend, turning into symbols of identity, personality and solidarity. At that time, cloth badges started to display motifs such as,

  • favourite bands;
  • mantras;
  • religious emblems;
  • peace symbols;
  • flowered and colourful designs;
  • gang membership.

High Fashion
The embroidered patches are now back in fashion with their colourful and various designs. Even the most desirable luxury brands realised it.
Butterflies, snakes, tigers, swallows, birds, bees and flowers are recurring themes in Gucci’s 2016 collections. Moreover, at the end of the past year, a do-it-yourself service was introduced in selected Gucci's stores. Moschino is following the flow, too, with contrasting and coloured applications on bags and clothes.

Back in 2014, Anya Hindmarch opened her Sticker Shop. It got a huge amount of press for its playfulness. Now luxury stickers could be applied to any kind of bags or accessories. 

During the past year, Goodordering has introduced the possibility for customers to personalise their bags with initials or embroidered patches. Also, we are currently selling a limited edition backpack decorated with vintage embroidered leaves found in a dusty cabinet left by old neighbours in Hackney. These unique products are being offered as one-off items. 

With the increasing demand of patches, new brands spring around. Belinda Chen, the founder of Bel’s Art World, is passionate about illustration, DIY culture, pin badges and embroidered patches; she sells her creations through Etsy, with the aim of bringing "colour and imagination to your world”. 

Look out for Goodordering's collaboration with Bel's Art World coming soon. 

Patch brands to watch

In conclusion
In such a busy world we live in, it’s always good to have our own way to express ourselves, personalise our style and stand out from the crowd. Patches are not just for kids or patching up holes, its now become part of mainstream fashion adding a big dose of playfulness to even the dullest of outfits and accessories.

About the author
Andrea Carlotta Montaguti is a master graduate in Advertising and Branding. She has work experience with Leo Burnett and Poplar Harca, advertising agency and housing association, and is currently based in London. 


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