High Fashion Has Gone Full Arts-and-Crafts

Pablo Ramirez runs a small embroidery business called Stitch Me in West Hollywood. He keeps up an Instagram but doesn’t have a website, unless you count a Yelp page with solid reviews. Like any screenprinting and embroidery shop, Ramirez remains in business primarily by making bulk custom orders for corporations—I Survived the ‘17 Company Cookout! That’s about 50 percent of his business, he tells me. In that regard, Ramirez is about as removed from the world of high-fashion as an apparel business can get. But the other half of his business, the stuff on display in the pictures on Yelp, gives a different impression: there, embroidered on denim jackets, are slithering snakes, tigers bellowing in between branches of roses, and butterflies fluttering near a full English garden. You don’t have to look hard to find the comparison: it looks like a Gucci lookbook. That, Ramirez tells me, is the point.

The trends have been a boon for businesses with stylish customers. “When fashion magazines put something in their magazine with embroidery that picks up business,” says Max Louie, the owner of New York-based embroidery business ABCDE (short for Any Body’s Custom Design Embroidery). Across the board, every embroiderer I spoke to said they felt a bump in business over the past year or so (Michele was appointed as Gucci’s creative director in 2015). Design Like Whoa, a San Francisco-based shop specializing in screenprinting, recently started offering embroidery “due to higher demand and requests,” general manager Sabrina D. Brown tells me. And the embroidery gold rush isn’t just limited to the Guccis of the world, or your local shop down the street recreating Gucci designs. There’s also a wave of extremely hip embroideries like Fort Lonesome—making pieces of “embroidered, wearable art,” its website reads—and Lot, Stock and Barrel, which customizes vintage clothing.

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