It’s hard to imagine a time when patches were less fashionable and more functional. First used in Ancient China as a nifty tool to repair clothing, creative seamstresses helped this practice evolve with intricate embroidery. As the Industrial Revolution was ushered in, the painstakingly slow process was sped up by slick machinery and came to be closely associated with authority. March into the late 19th century and police and military forces started attaching patch emblems to their uniforms as identification.
The 1960s saw fashion rules loosening up with the help of hippies, peace signs and a liberal helping of flower power. Structured dresses were switched for tie-dye frocks and tees featuring statement-making patches that symbolised youth and freedom – think burning bras and banning bombs. They wore their hearts on their sleeves, quite literally.
A decade later, these radical slogans were replaced with hard-edged punk drama. Rebellious ‘it’s called anarchy’ and ‘so what?’ designs adorned studded leather jackets and ripped denim vests. Against a backdrop of social and economic turbulence, patches felt like
a vital badge of identity.
Today, patches are a firm favourite with pop culture royalty. Fashion-conscious celebrities from rapper Drake to ex-teen heartthrob Joe Jonas keep their off-duty dressing cool in jackets with vivid patches. Bollywood star Ranveer Singh rocks this trend on and off the red carpet, regularly topping the best-dressed lists with his quirky style.
Digitization has made it easier than ever to find appliqués to suit your look. Bomber jackets with cleverly placed patches add a modern edge to your everyday wardrobe. Keep the rest of your outfit simple so that this key piece can happily steal the limelight.
Patches are having their moment on the streets, and these artistic pieces are often snapped by photographers and fashion bloggers. So wear yours with pride, because now you know you’re carrying a piece of history with you wherever you go. No pressure!
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