A Stitch in Time?
Back in the sixties and seventies, those heady days of flower power, peace and free love, embroidered jeans were all the rage. Daisy chains and rainbows decorated denim when flares were flapping at peace protests and rock festivals everywhere. Embroidery was like tattoos for denim and created a look that is now synonymous with an era that is long gone. But wait a minute! Embroidery is back in a fabulous fusion of retro cool and contemporary imagery that could be the next big thing.
Embroidered and embellished denim made a bit of a comeback in the early noughties in a rather kitsch, blingy and frankly rather eighties sort of way. Sequins and rhinestones abounded in ornate and often over the top additions that were not to everyone's taste. However, whether you loved the trend or hated it, there was and is merit in individuality. Embroidered jeans are a personal statement but a decent pair, rather than a hastily machine decorated offering, don't come cheap.
The resurgence in embroidered denim is being led by styles from top labels and designers like Stella McCartney, Matthew Williamson, Versace and Bliss & Mischief. We are talking £500 and up for their extravagant creations which include jeans for men. Most people might baulk at such a significant investment in what could be nothing more than a passing trend so does this somewhat retro inspired move have legs? Is it cool or stone cold?
Well perhaps we could see an increased enthusiasm in DIY embellishments. If you can't afford Versace's new take on embroidered jeans then why not create your own? You can pimp your jeans with a suitable level of subtlety or otherwise to suit your personal style and the imagery can be self-expressive if you want the daisies and rainbows to stay in the seventies.
Embroidery does require some knowledge and skill but that is where the needlecraft enthusiasts in the family could come in handy for once. Persuade your gran to transfer her skills from samplers to denim and you could be on to a winner. Alternatively use patches which are easy to sew on and can be managed even by the cack handed beginner.
Of course pimping is nothing new but this trend is more a case of dressing up than the dressing down approach of ripping and distressing your jeans. Embroidery could breathe new life into a tired pair of jeans, conceal the odd hole and bring a splash of colour and humour to proceedings. There is also the significant attraction of being able to create designs using your preferred jeans in your favourite cuts. You have the perfect blank canvas to work with.
It is difficult to predict which way things are heading with embellishments. On the one hand the world has moved inexorably towards convenience and immediacy. The idea of having to work for hours on a pair of jeans is certainly not in keeping with the way that we generally live our lives right now. But, and it is a big but, there are signs that the tide is turning towards a more hand on approach to what we do. More and more people are returning to cooking food from scratch and shunning ready meals and home baking is getting bigger all the time. So could trends in our eating habits be mirrored in our fashion choices?
If you fancy decorated jeans but just don't have the time or the will to create them and cannot afford designer styles then what are your alternatives? Well there are plenty of patterned jeans about right now which could work for you. There are also a few styles in metallic finishes which are interesting but which won't cost the earth. Well they might cost the earth from an environmental point of view but that is another story! You could also look at painting your jeans which requires less time and frankly less artistic ability if you go for abstract designs. Take a look at our feature on painted jeans for inspiration.
Decorative jeans aren't for everyone. Many people prefer simplicity and treasure the versatility of plain denim and stick with their favourite Levi's, Wranglers, Edwin and Evisu styles. If you do like to make a statement though, embroidered jeans are certainly one way to make one and a very good way to revitalise denim that is looking a little tired. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months. Embroidery is back but for how long?