Contemporary fashion uses embroidery on clothing and fashion accessories in waves. It appears in the collections of haute couture fashion houses, followed by the manufacturers of cheaper clothes with more accessible and simplified versions. What would be hand-embroidered in haute couture can be turned into print or machine-embroidered elements.
Embroidery and haute couture
In high fashion, embroidery is made by hand and of the finest quality. Even the machine embroidery used here is done to a much higher quality than we see later on the cheaper fast fashion pieces. The champion in this field is Chanel, who owns the highest institution of hand embroidery in France: Lesage. Here students learn and masters make the most daring and expensive embroideries for wedding and evening dresses, lingerie and applications for other fashion accessories.
The luneville needle is most often used for luxurious dresses. Silk fabric is mounted on the embroidery frame, pattern parts are drawn on the fabric, the pieces are embroidered and only then the tailor cuts the pieces, which are sewn into the finished dress. Embroidery and lacework often merge into a beautiful product that amazes audiences watching the red carpet.
Embroideries on affordable fashion pieces
Large fashion clothing manufacturers ensure that their collections follow the trends of high fashion houses. They include embroidery, hand and machine made, even on pieces we find in nearby shops. Most common right now are embroidered inscriptions, logos and geometric designs.
We also see embroideries in the form of cut-out material (summer clothes), appliqués (the filling of letters is a different material) or abstract motifs (florals, geometric shapes, ornamental inscriptions). Here, the strict division between men's and women's collections is erased: colors, patterns and cuts are mixed and combined.
Machine or manual?
It always amazes me when I see hand-embroidered pieces of jewelry or hand-stitched beads on fast fashion items. Machines that embroider beads exist and are also used for such mass identical products. Much of this still though, still remains the result of manual labor.
As computers and other electronic equipment become more affordable, so does the use of embroidery machines. Embroidery is found in the form of personalized gifts: towels, hats, jackets, sweaters, vests, t-shirts and other clothing items.
The next time you visit a large retailer, take a closer look at the patches and embellishments. Are the threads thick or is the material underneath visible? Are there hanging threads? If the stitches are large and randomly spaced, it's very likely handmade - would you dare to try and make something similar?
contemporary fashion and embroidery
If you enjoyed bit of reading, stop by my insta page (@ajda_brez_veze) where you’ll get an idea for a gift, learn how to make a stitch or find some other useful embroidery information!
Ajda Zorko is a guest blogger. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Štikarca.