Patched: Expressions of the Journey

By Sabrina Hunt


Now-a-days if you walk into a clothing store, you’ll likely notice that you’re surrounded by patches. Commonly used as labels on what would otherwise be blank garments or paired with the subtle nods to the enlightened, patches act as souvenirs, repair kits, and expressions of their owners.

Most people don’t think twice about them, but over the past century, patches have weaseled their way into sub-culture, turning heads as stark portrayals of individuality.

Originally symbols of intense poverty, indicating a life of hard labor and the lack of means to buy new clothes, patches were not sought after (1). It wasn’t until the OG counterculture movement dusted them off for round two that they started to make their comeback. Members of the hippie movement used patches as symbols of their anti-war beliefs as designs could be created at home with simple tools and worn close to the heart (2).

Think back on your parent’s pictures – if they rocked peace signs and flowers on their denim jackets, they likely had a needle prick or two to show for it.

A decade or so later, the punk counterculture emerged and became the subculture most closely affiliated with the trend. Replacing the peace and love mantras with an angrier approach to youth’s frustrations, punks walked the streets with patches loosely safety pinned on ripped jeans and leather jackets (2). The attitudes of these subcultures were drastically different, but patches were used for the same purpose. They were a blatant portrayal of beliefs and identity to everyone who saw them.

Today, the patch continues on as an outward symbol of individuality. Though political and social beliefs are still regularly stitched on garments, patches have reached far beyond symbols of rebellion to express countless other traits. 

Fortunately patching clothes no longer coincides with the burdens of  poverty and has taken a stark turn towards a rare possession of awareness and action. If it’s ripped, patch it. 

Most things get better with age and with a generation valuing experience, the miles traveled in a garment are now considered expressions of the journey and are not to be discarded.

This sociocultural pivot may be a new wave of punk, signifying the knowledge that a slight deformity does not deem something invaluable and that newer is not always better.

Earlier this year, we released our first patch collection with the theme of Desolation Wilderness. With references to the earliest days of the region, our Devil’s Valley and Feet & Fingertips patches identify with those of us who revel in the thrill of climbing a rock face. The inspiration for these designs are rooted in the unrelenting desire for perspective. 

It’s our hope that these patches breathe longer lives into not only our garments, but anyone’s apparel that they value. Let them serve as poignant reminders that just because it’s ripped, doesn’t mean it’s garbage.

What we choose to add to a garment documents the travels and excursions of an individual that are anything but ordinary. There’s no such thing as a carbon copy of an experience, no adventure that can be identically lived through another pair of eyes, and no two garments will come out on the other side of a venture looking exactly the same. 

The head-turning capacity that ignited the history of the clothing patch is not lost in this collection, just as the unapologetic authenticity of the hippies and the punks is not lost in those who wear in their symbols.    

Please apply responsibly.

  1. https://www.sleek-mag.com/article/patch-fashion-history/
  2. https://www.asildastore.com/blogs/news/103889222-a-brief-fashion-history-the-role-of-clothing-patches-in-counterculture