Social battle #10: Have patches from punk origins been ruined by high fashion houses?

Embroidered patches were one of the biggest fashion trends of 2016 and are still continuing to prove popular this year. How has this trend come to be?

It started in the military and was then adopted by punks as a form of rebellion and to be different to the ‘authority’ and has now become a status from ‘fashion authorities’? With fast fashion and mass produced garments, patches started as a way to stand out, but have now become so ‘samey’ that they all blend in. It goes into a bigger question of: is anything in fashion original anymore or is everything just based on imitation?

Patches are now being used outside of fashion as a way of rebellion or protest and to make political statements – as the punks intended them. An example of this (although directly the same) is the right use of clever protest banners used during Trump rallies or Katy Perry wearing a ‘persist’ armband at the Grammys.

Are all these things bringing originality back to patches, or are the high fashion brands destroying their roots as a meaning of ‘faux’ originality in their clothing?

“Expressionism is more present than ever and people are thinking of more inventive ways to express themselves: patches being a great example, signs at rallies and even social media statuses going viral can show this need to be heard.”

Patches create a sense of personal identity like it did for the counter-culture movements before us (punks and hippies).

Patches used to be everywhere the mainstream wasn’t. However, the accessory is no longer just for the poor, but has become a loved and accepted part of the high-fashion world and beyond. It is a great way to show personal storytelling, as it always has been in the past.

Identity is key. Patches were always used to make statements in fashion from the hippies to the punk aesthetic and they are still continuing to do so, but the statements are just more inclusive.

Expressionism is more present than ever and people are thinking of more inventive ways to express themselves: patches being a great example, signs at rallies and even social media statuses going viral can show this need to be heard. Today everyone wants to make a point and we have the chance to do it. We express opinions on social media and we make statements in fashion. We’ve the power to decide (or at least we think we do).

Does the re-emergence of the patch trend have different aesthetics, maybe. But the same need to express ourselves outwards. High-fashion may have adopted the patch, but they by no means own it.

“The origin of patches hasn’t been ruined by high fashion houses, instead it’s been improved.”

For many years, clothes have played a symbolic and communicative role and I personally think that the patch is an excellent example of that, even in high fashion houses. A huge portion of the iconic fashion houses have really been supporting various different movements through social media and with what they wear.

The origins of patches hasn’t been ruined by high fashion houses, instead it’s been improved.

From Marc Jacob to Miu Miu, iconic fashion houses have incorporated embroidered motifs and powerful messages in recent seasons. To really understand the movement, we just need to have a look at the last Prabal Gurung collection, one of the most feminist iconic collections from this New York 2017 Fashion Week.

Thanks to engaged designers, the patch has become an accepted part of the luxury-fashion world. It can be playful and at the same time hold a mirror to the modern and old zeitgeist. It can influence social unity or be a means of political expression and personal storytelling. And in addition to its social and political functions, identity seems now to be the word of the day when it comes to the patch of 2017. From the streets of Soho to the runways in New York, embroidered patches are undeniably having a moment in today’s fashion world and history. It’s proof that the word of the street can be fit into the high-fashion and not become ‘faux’ originality.

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