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Patterns In Fashion

Updated on August 11, 2012

Innovation and Creativity for the Future

I'm not a big fashionista. Still, skimming the pages of the Wall Street Journal, I came across an article by Christina Binkley entitled "A Pattern Emerges" and discovered something new in the fashion world that intrigued me. In her piece, she thoroughly investigates a new trend in fashion which has been going on for over five years now. This trend involves the use of patterns in a collection that act as a new form of signature for the designer, rather than boring old logos, something that would not be possible in the past but has now been brought to the catwalk as the technology has become more readily available.

If you're like me and appreciate a good piece of clothing yet hate feeling like a walking advertisement then this news is promising. So look past that great looking purse with that large "G" for Guess or those pair of earrings with the infamous pair of "C's" for Chanel. The most exciting part of this news is that the use of patterns instead of logos goes beyond the high fashion world and into regular old stores anyone can shop at. It might not be there yet, but it will be soon.

In her article, Binkley uses the example of the use of patterns in popular design with a designer's success at Target. There, Missoni's zigzag pattern was so infamous for the big time designer that when put into the inexpensive Missoni-for-Target collection in September they sold out on the first day.

Missoni | Source

This seemingly simple (and perhaps somewhat insignificant) fact for fashion is actually opening new doors for designers who haven't got many more boundaries to push when it comes to silhouettes. Anything can be used for a pattern, beyond zig zags or stripes. Mainly, designers use photographs that they manipulate and print onto fabrics for dresses, skirts, shirts, and anything else you could imagine.

Binkley goes on in detail about the evolution of the printmaking process for these designs. According to her, back in the early 200s, artists had to paint one screen per color before imprinting the fabric with dye to make the print. This was both tedious and expensive. The new age of digital printmaking has eliminated these issues, as it functions more like printing a photograph on paper. Now, designers can make patterns that are crisper, more intricate, and use almost any image they like.

So, if you want to impress your friends with some knowledge of designers and fashion, go beyond just knowing what those logos stand for and check out the different patterns out there and the names that are behind them. You'd be surprised what kinds of interesting stories you can find out there that make for a great conversation piece.

Still, as pattern making takes one giant leap into the future, there are those who turn to the past in order to add even more specialty to their pieces. Dries Van Noten, for example, created a tribute collection for Orbis Wirth for Fall 2008. Wirth is known for inventing a method of putting color onto fabric without screens in the 1920s, similar to the way ink jets do today. To do this, wax imbued with dyes was put onto a cylinder, which was then rolled onto the fabric. Van Noten's use of this technique was a success, making each handmade piece an original and reminding audiences of a forgotten method and its Swiss inventor.

Not only is it fantastic to know that those designers are no longer going to blatantly advertise themselves on every shirt and purse they produce, but it is also much more intriguing to don a dress with a print made from a photograph with a story.

© 2012 Lisa


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    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Lisa this is so cool and you're on the cutting edge of fashion. I'm one of those people who hates being a walking billboard for designers!