Updated: May 2
As we know already, fashion trends and cycles reflect the social, political, economic and cultural values of society. It’s as though we’re holding a mirror to the world in the form of the fashion industry! As society evolves, fashion does so as well, which is why it is so important to study fashion with reference to the particular period and geographical location when studying history.
Two years ago, the world came to a standstill. As traveling and communication got reduced to the minimal level because of COVID-19 restrictions, we were all forced to stay at home, to find new hobbies and keep ourselves occupied in all the extra free time we were suddenly faced with. This gave rise to the popularity of handcrafted items. A 100 years into the future, when studying history, we will certainly attribute the major trend of the early 2020s to this style — craftcore!
What is craftcore fashion?
Craftcore fashion is a style that has risen in popularity as a modern subculture in the last two years. Of course, handcrafted items were already seen often, but the pandemic truly made it popular! As people stayed isolated at home with lots of time to spare, we started focusing on hobby crafts, like crochet, knitting, patchwork, etc. As this DIY (do it yourself) culture started appearing on runway shows of high-end designers, Gen Z brought it to social media and caused it to become a global movement! Today, a lot of fashion-savvy individuals gravitate towards cute and quirky clothes and accessories, which come in a baffling variety of styles, from colorful and bold to chic and elegant.
Similar to the hippie fashion of the 1970s and punk of the 1980s, craftcore fashion items are made from the materials available. They’re most often handmade so they are not perfect and have a humanistic touch to them which makes them all the more special! Due to this rough quality in a age where clean and precise designs are hailed superior, craftcore (just like hippie and punk culture) has also been described as a rebellious approach to fashion.
Techniques used in craftcore fashion
Has reading about craftcore fashion inspired you to make something of your own, but you don’t know where to start? Don’t you worry! Let’s familiarise ourselves with some of the most common handicrafts used in craftcore fashion.
Crochet is by far the most common, and also the most versatile! According to Wikipedia, crochet is “a process of creating textiles by using a crochet hook to interlock loops of yarn, thread, or strangs of other materials.” Originating in Europe, this craft is now popular globally! It is used to make all kinds of things, from tops to hates to purses to full ensembles! There is no limit to your creativity when crocheting. To start crocheting, all you need is yarn, a crochet hook, and a basic tutorial to guide you through your first stitches!
Knitting is another method of yarn manipulation. While you finish stitches one-by-one in crochet, in knitting multiple stitches are open at any given time! Thus, knitting is considered more advanced than crochet. However, it’s just as versatile!
Do you have lots of fabrics scraps or clothes too cute to give or throw away? Repurpose them into something new! Put together fun patterns, prints and colours to make something quirky and unique, and flaunt your creations. Pathwork jeans and jackets are especially popular, but you can get creative and make anything!
BEADING AND BEDAZZLING
Need to add some glam to your favorite purse or shoes or jeans? Whatever you pick, some beads, studs, and sequins will definitely do the trick! Beaded jewellery is also quite the trend lately. This technique also offers a lot of room for creative interpretation, so you can bling it up your way!
As we move from chic muted colours to bold and bright ones, we’re sure to see more of this technique in the coming months. Tie-dye is a way to turn any basic T-shirt or sweatshirt into something fresh and new, and no two pieces are the same. You are sure to find businesses on Instagram who sell their own tie-dye creations, but if you feel up to the challenge, you can try this at home!
Embroidery is a craft that we are all familiar with. In recent times, it has become especially popular on various items of clothing and accessories, from denim jackets to canvas tote bags! This embroidery can be delicate and dainty, like tiny floral motifs, to bolder and more graphic designs. This is also an excellent life skill to have!
.....AND MANY MORE!
Along with the six techniques we’ve acquainted ourselves with, there are many more, like quilting, macrame, applique, hand-painting, and hand-printing fabrics! When it comes to craftcore, experimentation and having fun is key.
Why craftcore is the future of fashion:
FOCUS ON HANDICRAFTS
The focus on handmade crafts puts the spotlight on artisanal communities. These crafts, in the 21st century, have slowly been declining because of the use of modern machinery and industrialization. As a result, many of these communities are losing their livelihoods. The culture of craftcore keeps the communities that do traditional embroidery, knitting work, etc. thriving. As handcrafted items get more popular, labels and designers can outsource more artisanal work. Of course, this is only beneficial if these companies are paying their artisans fairly. To avoid supporting labels that do not pay their workers fairly and participate in exploitation of labour, we must do prior research before shopping from the particular label.
The main and core values of cratfcore fashion are sustainability and mindfulness. As each item is often individually made by hand, with a lot of love and care, they’re much more sustainable and ethical than fast fashion. This might make them a little more expensive, but this teaches and promotes mindful shopping. This means that we think before buying the product and check if we really need it instead of buying unnecessary items that we won’t actually use.
Another major way to achieve a craftcore look is to upcycle existing clothes. This, more often than not, proves that a new wardrobe can be made out of an existing one! This can be achieved through techniques like quilting and patchwork.
BOOST INDEPENDANT ARTISTS
If you’re on Instagram, chances are you know a small business owner, or you know someone who knows one! The pandemic has brought in a surge of online small businesses on social media platforms like Instagram. These sell everything from crochet tops, handsewn scrunchies, customized bags, accessories and shoes. Most of these shop owners are artists themselves, who work hard on every single product! They make these products made-to-order or in small batches, which means their business model is much better for the environment than fast fashion brands. And when you support them, you can be satisfied knowing you supported a hardworking artist instead of a rich corporation!
NOVELTY AND UNIQUENESS OF EACH PRODUCT
Since craftcore items are most commonly handmade or made from existing items, they allows for much more unique products! This makes them so much more special and give each one more sentimental value than something machine-manufactured that you can buy from the mall.
Craftcore, at its very core, is a way of creative expression. The emphasis lies on the methods used to make the clothing, so the output can look whatever you want it to look like! This is one aesthetic that, surprisingly, does not confine you to an “aesthetic” at all! So let your minds run free, and explore all the possibilities that handicrafts have to offer.
- Maitreyee Joshi.