The Patchwork Effect

The trend that is saving the Fashion Industry one patch at a time


Trends are a huge part of the fashion industry; they keep everyone informed of what’s “in” and what’s “out”, but trends can also have a much bigger impact on the fashion industry than what we see on the surface. The patchwork trend has already left its mark, so let’s dive deep into what I like to call, the patchwork effect.

Anna Spencer, 2009

Of course, patchwork isn’t a newfound invention: it is a form of needle work that includes sewing pieces of different fabrics together to create a new garment. The earliest preserved patchwork pieces date back to the Middle Ages, when quilted fabric was used during the construction of armour to keep soldiers warm. The most recognisable form of patchwork is probably the patchwork quilt which was taken to America by the Pilgrims. Throughout thousands of decades it has been used to create quilts, bags and draperies, but in recent months we have seen patchwork take on a new twist.


The trend started during the Covid-19 lockdown when online shopping hit an all-time high due to shops being closed, and smaller businesses began to take off. It wasn’t long before Instagram was flooded with images of influences showing off pieces of unique patchwork clothing.



Instagram: @jjvintage__

The new version of patchwork is the epitome of sustainability and creativity. Old clothes and fabrics are upcycled into incredible pieces of patchwork clothing. This means that brands are throwing away less fabric and, as a result, there are less fabrics being sent to landfill.


Instagram: @jadedldn

A running theme for this new patchwork trend is the visible seams that contrast against carefully chosen colour schemes to create edgy pieces that wouldn’t look out of place on the runway. The more traditional way of patchworking has also made a comeback this year. It has popped up again in the more classic form of denim jeans, skirts and jackets but this time it has taken on the continuous theme of visible seams.


Not only has the reappearance of patchwork given us some new and very unique pieces to add to our wardrobes, it has also breathed new life into an old, beloved classic. But it doesn’t stop there.


The patchwork technique has also encouraged people to create their own patchwork clothing, which is one of the best influences a trend can have. Rather than directing consumers to fast fashion websites to buy the latest trend, the patchwork trend has led people to their own wardrobes to transform what they already own, or to buy from smaller businesses that are reusing old fabrics.


Illustrations by Lizzy Swinerd

Patchwork is such a versatile trend that can be interpreted in so many different ways. And it isn’t limited to one season only! Whilst it may have started in early summer with tops, skirts and dresses made of lighter materials, it can continue into autumn/fall and then into winter with the possibilities of patchwork jumpers, tights, scarves and many more essential winter garments.


Who would have thought that one simple trend could encourage sustainability, individuality, confidence, creativity and push people to support smaller businesses? I encourage you to follow at least one part of the patchwork trend, whether that'd be buying from a small business, making new clothes out of old clothes or wearing something that makes you feel confident. I hope the patchwork trend leaves a very positive impact on the fashion industry for years to come.


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