When Beyoncé and Blue Ivy debuted matching custom Gucci ensembles covered with embroidered rose and butterfly patches a month ago, it confirmed two things: One, that Blue Ivy has achieved levels of flyness at the ripe age of four that most adults are still striving to reach; and two, that clothing peppered with patches is officially fair game — even for people who have never listened to Bikini Kill.
Though this aesthetic may no longer belong solely to those entrenched in the punk and indie scenes, it still allows its adopters to embrace the DIY attitude valued by those who pioneered the look. Whether you add just one to a hat or cover an entire jacket, patches offer an easy way to make your clothing your own. Here, we highlight seven of our favorite patch brands to jump-start your efforts on the off chance that Alessandro Michele isn't designing personalized looks for you and your fam.
This Toronto-based brand was founded by designer Megan Campagnolo, who got her start making hand-embroidered patches inspired by imagery from Sailor Moon and "Twin Peaks." Her current collection features girl gang appropriate designs that are pretty but irreverent, like a Heathers-inspired image or rose-bordered "Give Em Hell" back patch.
Though Rosehound Apparel offers iron-ons, Campagnolo recommends sewing patches on instead. "I learned this the hard way when I ironed a patch onto my backpack that left an ugly glue mark on the bag when I got sick of it," she says. "Sewing does take a little bit longer, but it's super-easy and great to do in front of the TV. It's a lot more durable and your jacket will thank you in the future."
Stay Home Club describes itself as "design for the disgruntled," which explains why it's perfect for the Tumblr-scrolling, ironic-but-full-of-feelings demographic that tends to love patches. (Note: I am allowed to sound disparaging about this demographic because I am a part of it). Run out of Montreal by founder and illustrator Olivia Mew, Stay Home Club's collection features a good mix of the sweet — like delicate flower wreaths — and snarky, like the "Frequent Crier Program Lifetime Member" patch. The latter is perfect for wearing while you spill your feelings all over the Internet from the safety of your bed on a Friday night.
Though it's only a year old, Big Bud Press has already transitioned from selling just patches and accessories to boasting a customized women's clothing line. The Florida-based shop features patches in simple, limited-color outlines reminiscent of the neon advertising signage outside of a nail salon. Big Bud is also unique in that all its patches are made in the U.S., upping the feel-good factor of shopping there.
Like the rest of author and illustrator Adam J. Kurtz's work, his patches somehow manage to be funny, pessimistic and self-aware without coming off as obnoxious. Emblazoned with catchphrases like "At least you're cool on the internet" and "Young, dumb and full of existential dread," Kurtz's patches invite you to mock your own insecurities by wearing them on your sleeve. At least that way people aren't saying them behind your back, right?
To best care for your patches, Kurtz advises extra care when ironing on. "Lay a T-shirt or piece of cloth over the patch while you iron to avoid damaging it." He notes that ironing isn't for everyone, though: "Depending on your aesthetic, a bunch of big sloppy stitches might actually give you an extra edge."
Founded by Australian artist Steen Jones in 2013, Few and Far Collective sells casual apparel, fine art and even skateboard decks featuring designs inspired by tattoo culture. This look works particularly well in patch format, and Few and Far Collective's stylized animals with heavy black outlines do just what the best tattoos do — make art wearable.
Glasgow-based jewelry and patch designer Sally McAdam mixes sugary-sweet pastels with in-your-face slogans like "I'm Not Sorry About Your Fragile Masculinity" to create her signature look. If wearing the words "Feminist Killjoy" in rainbow colors on your sleeve seems a bit aggressive to you, she also offers tamer designs like a cotton-candy-colored Polaroid camera or multicolored gemstone.
A favorite with leading ladies like Tavi Gevinson and Lena Dunham, Buried Diamond designer Martha Porter is known for her rainbow-bright, kooky charms and patches. Porter comes across on social media like the crazy aunt that everyone in the family simultaneously loves and fears, and you'll feel similarly inspirational/untouchable when you cover your stuff in her three-eyed pink cat, witch hand or eyeball patches.
As far as Porter is concerned, more is more in this arena. "I love the impact of one statement patch, but I'm the kind of person who covers every inch of a garment with them. I think as long as you are adding patches that you personally love, there are no rules — if you love them, then they belong together!"