Embroidery is one of the oldest textile techniques. But, with streetwear it is living a renaissance.
The origins of embroidery probably date back to in China. It is a very old textile technique and it is shared by many cultures through history. In The Middle Ages, needlework was extremely developed and continued to grow in Europe and throughout time.
Embroideries played a major role in defining someone's status in society. The most wealthy or important people could have their clothes embroidered by skilled artisans with high quality and very expensive fabrics such as thread of gold and silver. (1)
Portrait of a Lady dressed in a gold embroidered dress by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – c. 1656), 17th century
Artisans usually embroidered by hand or with Jacquard loom. Picture very 'well to do' English ladies sat in their drawing rooms for hours on end, with a needle and thread, needlepointing the days away, or impossibly wealthy Kings and Queens being kitted out in the finest garments known to man at the time, But from the Industrial Revolution in 19th Century, everything changed.
Textile production evolved and became mechanised. The first embroidery machine appeared and kept evolving and improving. (2) Nowadays, machine embroidery are computerised and can quickly design and embroider any garment, with any thing the designer can imagine and create into a CAD file.
With the development of these machines, anyone can now have their own clothes embroidered or buy embroidered clothes at an affordable price. You can even have your own embroidery machine at home (but for something of high quality, were talking £8000+ so maybe best to out source that particular venture!
Even though the traditional handmade embroidery with expensive fabrics still exists in Haute Couture, nowadays embroidered clothes have been largely democratised and do not longer specify your social status.
Embroidery really is for the masses now, from the catwalks of Paris, Milan and London, right down to the grittier streetwear brands, anyone who is anyone can we seem wearing this super slick style.
When Embroidery meets Streetwear
Embroidered clothes are now everywhere and also in streetwear fashion. Just look at the embroidered Palace caps , the embroidered Supreme bombers or the embroidered Vans shoes just to name a few…
With embroidery, designer can add their brand’s name, cool original patterns, embroider a message, a funny picture, the list is endless, embroidery is a much more artistic way of getting something across, it goes deeper than printing, it seems more thought out, a process and a skill all in itself.
For instance, the Greek brand We are Still Bold and Beautiful loves adding embroidered drawings on its T-Shirts and sweatshirts making them so unique and quirky.
We are Still Bold and Beautiful
The London-based brand INGMARSON also designs embroidered T-Shirts to picture bees for instance or sharing a good vibe or tongue in cheek message like the photo depicts below - "focus on your own shit" reminds everyone reading, to maybe not read?! Who knows, but what we do know is its funny, its punchy, and it is sure to turn heads for all the right reasons!
And of course, the fantastic Wiino, embroider highly detailed images of footballers, or flies, flowers, and weightlifters amongst other intricate designs onto the highest quality tees imaginable. Embroidery is definitely a trend well worth following!
I myself, have even taking my hand to it! My own line of embroidered t-shirts will be hitting the website shortly, so watch this space guys! Its a fast moving bandwagon and its one I'm super excited to be jumping on!
For designers and brands, embroidery is a magic tool to add something special to their garment. And we just love it!