Embroidery is making a comeback – the intricate designs that date back to 3500 BC are working their way into pop culture, inspiring trends around the globe. The craft originates from a variety of rich cultures, all weaving their own traditions into their art.
In China, little stones and pearls were looped onto silk thread and woven into clothing for the elite. Young Persian girls told stories through their needlework, stitching fine gold onto large tapestries to recount victories and marvel at the strength of their noblemen. Examples of embroidery can be traced from ancient Japan, Mexico, India, Vietnam and medieval Europe.
The possession of elaborately embroidered household objects and clothing was an indication of wealth and social class. Embroidery no longer has this connotation; it is simply a form of personal expression.
“The 60’s had edge; the 70’s had embroidery,” says American comedian Gina Barreca. This fashion trend arose in the 70’s but has resurfaced recently and found a place in European style.
Traditionally, embroidery was done on silk, linen or wool, but contemporary designs have made their way to denim. Flowery vines wind across the back of jean jackets, clusters of roses accent a simple pair of jeans or embellish the back pocket.
The European-based brand Zara has recently adopted the style, decorating pretty white blouses or pinstriped collared shirts with the ornate designs. Another Spanish chain, Desigual, offers vibrant embroidered dresses and skirts. Established brands such as Gucci stock embroidered flare jeans for a costly sum of $2,390.
As the demand for this unique style increases, the prices skyrocket, giving teenagers and young fashionistas a reason to search for an alternative – embroidering their own clothing by hand. At first, the task may seem daunting, but with a needle, colorful string, and Pinterest’s endless realm of inspiration, it becomes possible, and does not always require skillful artistic abilities.
I would recommend picking a shirt you’re not too attached to, and sketching lightly with pencil before diving in with your needle. Be whimsical; make your designs unpredictable! While machine embroidered patterns have precision, they lack the character and charm that hand embroidery creates.
Trends come and go, but embroidery will never fully go out of style; it will always find its way back into pop culture.
gallery: point reyes trail