Currently, there are an estimated 21 million quilters in the United States. But while this craft is certainly popular, it isn’t usually considered to be particularly sophisticated or cutting-edge. That is, until now. Quilting really showed up in a big way on this year’s New York Fashion Week runways, proving that this classic art form might just have cemented a stylish place all its own.
The recent renaissance of quilting in high fashion can be partially attributed to designer Raf Simons, who has worked the craft in to his debut lines with Calvin Klein as a complement to prairie-inspired pieces. But Bode, Libertine, and Mimi Prober also included crazy quilts in their collections this year.
Emily Bode, the designer behind her namesake label, explained that her patchwork pieces are made almost entirely from repurposed vintage materials — a sustainable and surprisingly in-demand approach that’s brought the young innovator much success. The fact that many of her pieces are almost one-of-a-kind, due to the limited availability of the fabrics she sources, may have something to do with it. But the Bode line also manages to be nostalgic and fresh all at once, encouraging consumers to buy special items on the spot to cherish, rather than to throw on and throw away soon after.
At present, the global clothing and textile industry is worth an estimated $2.560 trillion, and New York Fashion Week isn’t the only runway in the world where quilting is in. London Fashion Week designers recently debuted their winter collections, and for many, quilting was in the spotlight — albeit in a slightly different format. Rather than the patchwork style that screams Americana, this style of stitching usually encompasses just one type of material. It adds texture to metallics and wild patterns, making for ideal cold weather looks with a fashionable flair.
But whether in America or across the pond, it’s clear that in fashion, the adage that “everything old is new again” continues to remain true — in more ways than one. As Emily Bode explained to Vogue, quilts have their own stories to tell, just like fashion collections, and both quilts and clothing are meant to be both beautiful and functional. It’s clear from consumers’ reactions that customers are open to giving this craft and technique new life on the runway and in their own closets.