Three’s a Trend: Patchwork Denim like It’s ’92 Again

Get out your glue guns, ladies and crafters.


I remember very distinctly that my younger brother Henry, when he was six years old, had a pair of mom jeans festooned with embroidered renderings of Taz the Tasmanian Devil, strategically placed across both butt pockets and on the pants’ left knee. I had a similar pair but mine contained images of Tweety Bird, who I kind of hated because the way he inflected pissed me off, so I never wore them.

I remember even more distinctly that in 2005, when I was still in high school and Uggs were more popular than Céline Birkenstocks are now, I went online and ordered iron-on patches from a website that I am pretty sure catered exclusively to Grateful Dead fans of the heavy drug-taking persuasion. I bought some rainbow colored “teddy bears” which I realized even then were emblems of the anterior band but also understood they were, hello!, rainbow teddy bears, dammit. When they arrived, I ironed them onto my Uggs and for about six months, I felt like — nay, was — the coolest girl at school.

Then I forgot about patchwork. Somewhere along the way, I was reminded of Melissa Joan Hart’s alter ego, Clarissa, and it was way too soon to be paying homage to such a recent, catastrophic amulet of the 90s. My parents also asked that I take a drug test given my effusiveness about the teddy bears and that seemed like a crude case of racial profiling as far as I was concerned.

But the September before last, Phillip Lim and Isabel Marant debuted their (decidedly different) versions of patchwork jeans while Junya Watanabe just rolled out his, appearing a season after Dries Van Noten did his version of the embroidery-tango. Additional denim suppliers (see: Mother) have followed suit and save for the oldest homage: manipulated JNCOs, here they are again, between the lines in street style photos from the recently departed (hallelujah!) fashion week season.

Me, personally, I am now contemplating the exact approximation of that first, devoid-of jam-band-paraphernalia slideshow image and I’ve so far come up with the following items:

Are you with me?

Come on, let’s shop. Or, you know, DIY.

Get more Shopping ?
  • Angel

    Love patchwork denim ! they can be dressed up and dress down.Very chic for this season.
    check out my fashion blog . NEW posts every Sunday , Tuesday , Thursday and Saturdays.

  • I distinctly remember in 5th grade wearing patchwork jeans from the boys’ section at GAP. Everyone thought I was “gangsta” for a hot minute. It didn’t last.

    Your Friend, Jess

  • clara

    i love that trend its so funny

  • Christina Daniels

    I LOVE this trend! Super eager to try it out! Hoping to find some great patchwork at my local thrift store to DIY it!!

  • Amelia Diamond

    I used to have NOFX and Misfits patches on my backpack because I was soooooooooooooooo xXpunk rockXx.

    • what about KO(backwards R)N?

  • Aubrey Green

    I had this amazing vest with patchwork in junior high and I no longer have it – I’ve been thinking about that damn vest for years now, it’s a shame I didn’t keep it!

  • Actually, I love patchwork, in fashion and in home decor, so yup, I’m definitely with you. I, too, used to have some jeans with the USA flag on the left back pocket when I was 12, and would stop wearing them, until one day they ripped apart at school – embarrassing moment, yeah! 🙂

    thanks for sharing

  • Max

    where is the coolest girl? You know the answer! Short tip: 2 of them are cool…

  • Elisa Taviti

    I really love these photos!!

    My Fantabulous World

  • I’m gonna need to get used to that one. I always find it difficult to go back to a trend at first, but I always embrace it!

    Mafalda ❤

  • lavieenliz

    so funny!! back in the 80s my parents had a line that started the patchwork denim trend!

  • Lily Zeltser

    But what do you think about normcore?

    • Leandra Medine

      before it was called normcore it was either just called people who wear adidas or high-low.

  • Brie

    oh, i’ll be DIY’ing those junya jeans freakin asap. they are too cool for school.

  • Kelly

    definitely ironed on patches to my favorite pair of light blue flares. does anyone else remember handbags fashioned from the upper portion of ladies’ jeans? I think that trend transpired in 2002.

  • Fee_DP

    While I absolutely love this trend, I’m still not sure if I’m going to go with it.
    This will probably be something that I’ll start wearing a year from now, when no one does it anymore and you can’t find it anywhere.

  • Ranim

    No. Just no.

  • Angelia

    I think you mean, the 1970’s we were doing this due to lack of money and access to interesting clothing.

  • pinkschmink

    As long as this trend sticks around for next season, so I can iron motor racing patches all over my jeans and wear them with Zoë Jordan’s badass patched sweatshirt … I’m in.

  • Oh, man. I have a denim jacket that used to be festooned with all kinds of patches, but I took them off a few years ago in an effort to be more “grown up.” Figures. I still have all those patches, but since I already took them off, I’m going to have to stick to my naked denim jacket purely out of principle.

  • I love patchwork Denin. But I do prefer the DIY version, because it turns your jeans in something unique and original.

    XX Fi

  • Leslie Gesini

    Good blog with many style!

  • I really love patchwork denim jackets!! 🙂

  • john