The History of Embroidered Patches – From Function to Style

Fashion has always been a way of expression, allowing people to showcase their personality and style through various pieces of clothing. With today’s mass-produced garments and fast-fashion, people are looking for new ways to separate themselves and stand out in a crowd. A current trend that gives them this opportunity comes in the form of embroidered patches that have made a comeback in recent years and are having a moment in the fashion world today. Even the biggest fashion brands are incorporating them onto their garments and many celebrities are rocking this popular trend as well.

However, before they became an accessory used to embellish an outfit, they were used for covering up holes in clothing and for labeling people in uniforms. Over time, they symbolized many different things to different groups of people. So let’s take a look at the history of embroidered patches and how they evolved from something functional to something stylish.

The Beginning

Although the exact origins of embroidery are uncertain, it is estimated that it first appeared in China around the 3rd century BC. The Chinese used a variety of sewing techniques to mend and patch clothing which then evolved into a decorative form. Over time, other civilizations started decorating clothing, tapestries, cloth, and more with some of them turning smaller and more intricate eventually becoming patches.

The 1800s

During the Industrial Revolution, Alphonse Kursheedt invented the first embroidery machine that used a combination of looms and hand embroidery. Inspired by this, Isaak Groebli created the Schiffli embroidery machine in 1863 which used a continuously threaded needle and shuttle.

Today, most patches are made using high-tech, computerized machines, although there are still some that are handmade. Numerous companies make and sell custom patches, allowing you to own something that will fit your taste and is unique. To learn more about this, you can visit

The Seventies

The hippie movement affected trends across the world and became not only a movement of morals but one of fashion as well. They abandoned all forms of traditional attire and were getting second-hand clothing and military attire that they embellished with cloth patches. They were often printed or embroidered and were satirical, radical, and cool, often showcasing the icons of the movement.

The Eighties

Young people continued to defy social norms well into the 80s, with the counterculture changing and taking the form of what is known as the punk movement. Using peace and love to solve problems morphed into using anger and spikes. Peace signs and flowers were exchanged for embroidered patches of bands and mantras spreading the spirit of anarchy across the globe. They were roughly stitched or pinned onto vests and leather jackets but continued to be a token of identity, solidarity, and personality.

Modern Day

Today, they no longer need a special cause to be relevant and are constantly being revived and adapted by fashion brands. Still, for many, they continue to be a way of expressing one’s identity and personal fashion.


In the past, they were considered to be the furthest thing from fashion, but today they have become a symbol of self-expression. There is no way of telling whether embroidered patched are here to stay, but there is no denying that they have forever left their mark on the world of fashion.