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Fashion Patches Through the Ages

Fashion Patches Through the Ages

Patches were originally used to cover a hole in a garment and were associated with the poor. They were later incorporated into uniforms or other formal garments to represent status––I often think of army uniforms, factory workers, or of the embellishments on the jacket of a member of the royal family. Today, patches are popular for a number of different reasons and have become quite mainstream in the fashion world.

The History

In the 60s we began to see an increase in the use of patches as a fashion statement. The counterculture of that period can be held mainly responsible for the start and spread of the patch trend. In the 60s we saw symbols of peace and love, or patches that also covered garment holes but with a different intention––one that represented being anti-consumption versus living in poverty. The message here was generally positive. 



The “happy hippie” 60s patches soon morphed into antiwar patches or patches with a message as the Vietnam war took hold of the United States in the 70s. In the 70s and 80s you can see the more explicit “statement” patches that came from the frustration people were feeling from a lack of change in the 60s. Patches were being used to speak about the causes people cared about, a visual “voice” for the wearer of the patch. As punk and heavy metal music took over the counterculture as the music of choice, the patches became much more “punk” in design too with darker colors and more aggressive symbols or phrases. 


In the 90s, patches became much more mainstream with patches for kids making their way onto the scene as well as adult members outside of the counterculture showcasing patches on their clothing. Major fashion brands started to utilize patches in their designs and finally luxury brands began to use them too, coming full circle from the original use which signalled poverty. 

Now you can see patches on a very wide variety of wearers as musicians and brands create patches for their fans. Sometimes patches mean something, but other times they don’t. At M&J patches always have a meaning as the maker is an artist working to create a more sustainable and fair world. We love working with our customers, so if you have an idea for a patch, send us a message! We’d love to give you the opportunity to be part of our creative team. Contact us here!

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