Patches have been making history since the early 70s, and they’ve become on-trend once again, from the streets to the catwalk.
Why? Because patches hold the same power they did 50 years ago. They are the perfect form of self-expression.
You only have to look to contemporary designers to see these fashion pieces make a statement.
Read on to discover why patches are still so popular and how you can join the fashion trend.
History of Embroidered Patches and Culture
The power of patches is part of their long history. To understand why they are still popular in 2023, you have to understand the history of these embroidered materials.
As Coco Chanel said, fashion has everything to do with how we live and what’s happening in our world. Sometimes to understand the world, we need to understand fashion.
Before the 1970s, patches, as a fashion item, weren’t popular among the masses. Although they could be seen on military uniforms and sewn onto clothes to cover holes, these uses were purely practical.
Although they weren’t popular in the 1960s, the political spirit of patches has roots in this decade. By the 1960s, political unrest was growing in America due to its involvement in the Vietnam War. Millions would go on to protest, particularly young people, and this spirit of process and change carried into the 1970s.
Thus, in the 70s, the “hippie” culture was born, which focused on going against the grain in terms of politics, lifestyle, and particularly fashion. The tailored suits and dresses from the 50s and 60s gave way to flowing clothes and a more relaxed approach.
To make a change to their clothes, hippies often wore patches to showcase icons of the movement. These early patches ranged in statement and style, expressing hippie slogans like “Peace, Not War” and “Love.”
It was also this era that saw the rise of different activist groups. They would make their patches to identify group members and express their identity.
By the 80s, peace and love gave way to a fascination with rock music and unrest. Out of social unrest, the punk movement was born.
Although no less political, patches weren’t what they were during the 1970s. Punks were still wearing them to make statements of personal identity and often solidarity with marginalized groups, but they also began using patches to represent their favorite bands or motos.
Patches during this era also underwent some transformation. These weren’t always sewn but often pinned on. It was rough and ready in the true punk style but no less impactful.
By the 1990s, patches were no longer just for the counter-cultural movements of the 70s and 80s. They were something newly accessible to children and adults alike and didn’t have to belong to those fighting the status quo.
In fact, by the 1990s, patches had become a part of a fashion norm, with people often sewing them onto denim jackets, jean pockets, backpacks, and more.
Today, much like in the 1990s, patches no longer need social causes or cultural movements to be relevant. Top fashion magazines now encourage wearing them as a throwback to the 90s.
Whether you want to harken back to the spirit of the punk rock era or channel the peace and love of the 70s, using the inspiration of the past is a great way to make a fashion statement.
And you can now go one step further by customizing your patches so that whatever you want to say in response to today’s world, you can. You can create a design that is truly unique to you, making your fashion a unique expression of your identity.
Why You’ll See Custom Patches Trending in Fashion
Patches have taken over the fashion world—but why? Here are three reasons.
Patches are a beautifully versatile fashion piece because you can sew them onto almost any item of clothing, from a white tee to a denim jacket to a pair of jeans. Wherever and on whatever item of clothing you choose, they can create your desired look.
The fashion expression doesn’t end with clothes. Why not place patches onto accessories like handbags or purses? As a versatile fashion statement, you can pick where you want to make it and how, making your backpack, purse, handbag, or tote deliver your unique fashion statement.
Literal Statement Piece
Patches don’t just make a statement; they’re a statement piece in and of themselves. By wearing a patch, you’ll be current with trending fashions.
As the history of these fashion items shows, they’re always a part of a fashion trend, even when they aren’t involved in counter-cultural movements. So use your literal statement piece to be a part of fashion itself, whether going against the norm or simply expressing yourself.
Showcase of Personality
Fashion is the perfect medium of inner self-expression to the outside world. Fashion isn’t just in an item of clothing but in our sky and ideas. Every day, whether wearing sweats to watch TV or a fancy outfit for a party, you’re showcasing your personality to the world.
Although that might sound daunting, it’s not. Fashion is just visually expressing yourself, and what could be more visual than patches? Particularly customized patches, where you can choose a design that suits you.
Common Fashion Items People Are Customizing With Patches
Many items in your wardrobe could easily have a fashion re-vamp with a couple of patches. Today, people are customizing:
- Baseball caps
- Tote bags
- Denim jackets
- Bomber jackets
- (P)leather pants
With patches, the possibilities are endless. Make your wardrobe truly your own, and get creative!
Customizing patches is also a great way to respond to the dangers of fast fashion. Many designers, including Stella McCartney, are trying to find ways to make fashion more sustainable. After all, fashion is about speaking to the here and now. When the here-and-now inevitability changes, so does fashion.
However, patches are a great answer to updating your wardrobe. They let you make your style so personal that you’ll never want to let clothes go. By customizing them, you’ll be more likely to keep them, which means you won’t have to waste any money and contribute to the excess waste produced by fast fashion.
Also, the versatility of patches means you can hide marks or stains with them, so you don’t have to throw away your beloved jacket or hat. Add a patch, and it’s like it’s brand new.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Fashionable Are Custom Patches?
The short answer is: very.
While there is no barometer to measure how fashionable an item is, when top designers like Gucci and Marc Jacobs are embracing patches in their runway designs, it’s clear that they’re on-trend and fashionable. With patches appreciated and utilized by the world’s top fashion designers, they’ll be seen and loved everywhere.
It’s worth adding that while they’re popular and fashionable, customized patches are not just a fashion statement but a stylistic one. Even when fashion changes as it did in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, your style is something you can mold and get creative with—it’s timeless!
With custom pieces, you can speak to the timeless inner you and still alter items to express tomorrow’s latest trends.
What Fashion Designers Are Using Custom Patches in 2023?
Many designers incorporate patches into their designs, even in subtle ways. Vogue recently wrote an article on Victoria Beckham and Mia Regan’s collaboration, which subtly features sewing patches in the designs.
Other designers include:
Even if you don’t follow what the designers put onto the runway, the patches in their clothes show how on-trend patches are in 2023.
Looking to Create Your Own Custom Patches? The/Studio Can Help!
Customizable fashion patches are the perfect form of self-expression and fashion statement, so why not start today? The customization process is super easy to follow.
Perhaps you’re sitting in a cafe when inspiration strikes, and you draw a design on the back of a napkin. Or maybe you’ve been working on a design for months. No matter how rudimentary or precise, send us your sketch. Our in-house design experts will transform that into a digital mockup in 24 hours! So your design can speak to the here and now.
We’ll work with you to edit your design until you’re happy. We’ll even send you a photo of the physical design for your approval so you can get the best idea of the final product! Whatever your deadline, we’re here to help you and give you the best possible design to suit any occasion.
While you can order as many patches as you need, we’re also happy to accept designs for as few as one patch. Whether you’re looking for many stylish patches for a whole sports team or just one patch to add to your denim jacket, we’re excited to help.