Embroidery is developing a bad-ass attitude. We profile four young London designers breathing new life into traditional techniques
Art and fashion come together in Arthur Yates’ unisex label with cult appeal, Bruta. When he started out in 2015, Yates had no formal design experience. Instead, he used his artistic background to shape the brand’s distinct identity, focusing on simple, high-quality shirts with a twist: in this case, the stitched emblems that adorn collars, sleeves and necklines. With a defiantly British sensibility at its heart, Bruta takes its inspiration from things like medieval jousters and the English seaside, and is proof that embroidery needn’t feel overly fussy or fanciful.
Clio Peppiatt’s playfully embellished designs are sartorial serotonin. The bright colours and bold textures are enough to make you feel giddy, but it’s her tongue-in-cheek embroidered motifs that have fast become a trademark. For her astrology-inspired AW18 collection, she stitched tarot and zodiac emblems onto velvet dresses and Working Girl-style check suits. “My embroideries develop from my own hand drawings, and allow me to bring the illustration to life through texture,” she explains. “This season, we’re using hand-embroidered hammered gold work, a modern take on the technique used to embellish the Egyptian pharaohs’ robes.”
Roberta Einer is a London Fashion Week must-see thanks to her party-ready looks for modern maximalists. The Estonian-born designer favours bold appliqués, colourful sequins, clashing textures and has an eye for clean, fluid shapes. Though her embroidery tends towards the avant garde, she first learned the ropes from her grandmother back in Tallinn. “Things that look so neat and graphic you’d think they must have been done by machine are actually hand-embroidered for weeks,” she reveals. Einer keeps her stitching fresh by “experimenting with unorthodox materials, working with everything from raffia and wool to Swarovski crystals and glass petals.”
The not-so-humble white shirt provides the perfect blank canvas for S.a.r.k, the new label from stylist Lauren Grant. Named after the 18th century Scots word for “short chemise”, the brand cleverly subverts the formality of each perfectly tailored piece with an irreverent embroidered motif. Whether it’s colourful Bic lighters on a collar, Prozac pills stitched onto a rodeo-style yoke or a box of cigarettes poking from a pocket, it’s stuff you’re not likely to find on the classic cross stitch sampler. Crafting each shirt in the UK, Grant has drawn inspiration from suburban adolescence and pulpy classic novel ‘Valley of the Dolls’ for her debut collection. We can’t wait for her sequel.