Embroidered Patches Show Artistic Talent of U.S. Drug Cops

 

green airHere at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’ve made a variety of law enforcement patches over the years, but this piece from Christopher Ingraham, originally published on Washington Post’s Wonkblog, shows how the DEA and other agencies have used embroidered emblem artistry to showcase their varied missions.

On one patch, from the DEA’s Cocaine Intelligence Unit, cocthe Grim Reaper sits on a bomb and does cocaine. On a patch made for the DEA’s International Conference on Ecstasy and Club Drugs, he goes to a rave holding glow-sticks and a pacifier. Other patches feature dragons, unicorns, camels and bald eagles swooping down on marijuana plants, talons outstretched.

Federal agencies began adopting patches in the 1970s, according to Raymond Sherrard, a retired special agent with the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division. Sherrard is the author of “The eradEncyclopedia of Federal Law Enforcement Patches,” generally considered to be the bible of the federal patch collecting community. It contains thousands of color photos of federal agency patches and was compiled by Sherrard with the assistance of hundreds of collectors, law enforcement officers and organizations.

In the 1970s, Sherrard says, different federal law enforcement agencies began to team up to tackle big cases. In his own IRS division, which investigated drug traffickers and money launderers, “we had probably dozens of people from different agencies, most of whom had never seen each other before,” he told me. When raiding suspected drug operations, the agents needed a quick visual way to identify one another. “In the ’70s, everyone looked like drug dealers,” he said, commenting on the style of an era distinguished by long hair, mustaches and flamboyant fashions.ecstasy

So the offices started making custom “raid jackets” with the seals of the respective agencies on them. “As time went on, there were more and more task forces created,” Sherrard said. “Pretty soon every federal agency had all these patches.”

The patches soon began to evolve beyond their original purpose. These patches are often not produced in an official capacity, or with the knowledge or approval of an agency’s higher-ups. In his book, Sherrard writes that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of “commemorative, anniversary, special unit, ‘giveaway’ and local team patches, many of which are unknown or unapproved by headquarters.”tech

Many of the DEA patches likely fall into this category. A DEA spokesman, who declined to be quoted by name in discussing the issue in an interview, said the patches are typically designed and paid for by the agents themselves. “They reflect an esprit de corps, used as a memento, or a token of gratitude to other officers” who help with major missions, he said. The agency itself only commissions and pays for official DEA seals and badges.

DEA IntellSome patches celebrate the completion of a major initiative, such as the patch for Operation Green Air, a partnership between the DEA and FedEx to bust a major marijuana smuggling operation in 2000. Others are given to cooperating local agencies as tokens of appreciation. “Most are never worn,” Sherrard writes, “but are used in displays or sewn onto a baseball cap, or simply kept in binders. Some are very collectible.”

Fred Repp Jr. is an active duty officer with the Bureau of Prisons in New Jersey. He runs Fred’s Patch Corner, a site for buying, selling and trading patches online. He’s particularly interested in the narcotics patches, especially ones that come from task forces overseas.Kabul

“DEA agents are in Afghanistan right now, working with local police to destroy poppy fields,” he told me. “Those patches are being produced in such low numbers by the teams, you might have 12 guys,” which means 12 patches, maybe a couple of spares. On such overseas assignments, Repp said, patches are usually manufactured on-site by locals. Patches produced in such small quantities are hard to come by.

“The whole thing about collecting is the seeking out,” Repp said. “A lot of guys have a story about how they came across something for their collection.”

There are as many different types of patch collectors as there are patches. Some, like Repp, are interested in patches from a particular agency or task force. Others only collect patches shaped like states, or that contain representations of birds.heat

There’s a brisk trade in DEA patches on eBay, and on the sites of individual collectors like Repp. Sherrard, the author, estimates that there are about 20,000 different federal law enforcement patch designs, some more sought-after than others. He’s known some of these to sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, although most sell for $5 to $10.

Sherrard says patches from FBI hostage rescue teams are among the most sought-after, because only a few are ever made. Patches from the CIA and NSA are also difficult to come by, because teams in these agencies are highly protective of them and don’t typically give them to people outside the organization.

“Most of the collectors are cops,” Sherrard said. “They’re either active or retired.” But some people collect the patches for other reasons.

“A reflection of the mentality of law enforcement”

Larry Kirk, a police chief in Old Monroe, Mo., has closely followed the patch trend. He was initially interested in the special unit patches. “I was interested in the culture behind them — it’s kind of a neat story,” he said. But in the past 10 years or so, he’s noticed a change in the iconography used on many law enforcement patches, even at the local level.forfeit

Many have “become reminiscent of military unit patches,” he said. “A lot of them are very aggressive, some of them have skulls, rattlesnakes, vipers. … It’s another sign of that warrior soldier mindset now that’s throughout law enforcement.” As law enforcement agencies have increasingly adopted military weapons and tactics, the patches suggest that they seem to be embracing military iconography as well.

Asked about this pattern, the DEA spokesman said that on some patches, “you’ll see the specter of death because drug abuse is dangerous. It reflects the dangers of drug abuse and the violence associated with drug trafficking.”

Other patches celebrate controversial practices and programs. The DEA’s asset forfeiture program, for instance, has allowed law enforcement agencies to seize millions of dollars in cash and property from citizens without charging them with crimes. The practice has come under criticism from lawmakers in both parties and was recently sharply curtailed by the Justice Department. The program’s patch contains the slogan, “You make it, we’ll take it.”dal

Surveillance themes also show up in a lot of narcotics patches. In the DEA Technical Operations patch, above, a scorpion with a radio dish for a tail listens in on signals from a nearby cellphone tower under an arc of lightning bolts. This type of imagery may not play well with members of the public who are concerned about the federal government monitoring their communications.

Some law enforcement agencies are “painting the picture that this is some type of war, on crime, or gangs, or drugs,” Kirk said. “It’s a reflection of these units taking on paramilitary ideas. It’s definitely a change in the culture that started taking place in the mid-’90s until now.”imrs

“Reminders of the absurdity we are up against”

For some, the patches have come to represent the excesses of the drug war. Aaron Malin is the director of research for Show-Me Cannabis, an organization working to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Missouri and a critic of Missouri’s drug task forces.  “When I first saw some of these patches, I didn’t think they could be real,” he said in an interview. “But after spending the last year and a half investigating the horrific ways in which the drug war is carried out, they don’t seem inconsistent with the mindsets of the officers who wear them.” (For many years, Missouri led the nation in methamphetamine busts as numerous state’s drug tasks forces sought to address abuse of the drug.)

One patch for a DEA Maryland Metro Area Task Force depicts a bloody skull impaled on a sword against a background of the Maryland flag. The skull holds a set of scales between its teeth.

A patch from DEA’s “First Virginia Cavalry,”  which operated out of Roanoke, Va. vrgin the late ’80s and early ’90s, shows a skull wearing a cowboy hat featuring crossed hypodermic needles against a Confederate flag background.

Sherrard notes that nowadays the DEA “is a much more politically correct agency than in the past” and that the patches are used less frequently. But Malin says the extreme imagery “represents a manifestation of the most absurd levels of the drug war. I more or less collect them as reminders of the absurdity we are up against.”

Not for public consumption

The other important point to consider is that many patches are essentially private documents, made by law enforcement officers for law enforcement officers. “They’re made as collectibles,” Sherrard says. They’re for internal morale-boosting and team-building. Officers from different agencies trade them with one another, “like a business card in some ways,” Sherrard says.strik

When we talk about large federal agencies like the DEA, it’s easy to forget that every monolithic bureaucracy is composed, essentially, of individuals.

It’s one thing to dismiss the asset forfeiture program as terrible policy, for instance. But it’s another to remember that the individual agents who carry out that policy are, in many ways, just regular people doing a job they’ve been assigned. Field agents don’t write policy — Congress does. Why wouldn’t we expect the people who carry out that policy to take pride in their work, and to wear that pride on their sleeve?
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You don’t have to be a drug cop to get a cool embroidered patch, we’ll work with you to create a distinctive emblem for your group, team, business, club (or police department). Check us out at www.c-emblem.com , e-mail to sales@c-emblem.com or call us 312/664-4232. For more than 127 years, The Chicago Embroidery Company has been creating this beautiful, vibrant art with only fabric, a needle and thread.

Bike Week visitors patch up for Daytona rides

A Patchplace reader sent this nice story about the importance of embroidered patches to bikers and Bike Week, written by Casmira Harrison of the Daytona Beach [Fla.] News-Journal:

Posted Mar 15, 2017 at 4:34 PM Updated Mar 16, 2017 at 11:46 AM

By Casmira Harrison

DAYTONA BEACH — The return home from Vietnam was so emotionally taxing, for years biker Jules Shubuck kept his military service mostly to himself.bike weeks day

“I was in the closet, so to speak,” Shubuck said. Then, in 2006, he rode from California to Washington D.C., to the Vietnam Memorial. During the “Run for the Wall,” Shubuck rode with veterans and met others along the way. Connecting with his brothers helped him regain pride in his military service, and he bought a Vietnam service patch at the Wall.

As part of the 76th Annual Bike Week, Shubuck is wearing that service patch in a place of honor — over his heart. People see the patch and connect with him.

“I have reached out to so many veterans here on the street that saw the patch that were also there,” said Shubuck, recollecting how they welcomed each other home. “It was kind of rough when we came home.”

Shubuck arrived from Pennsylvania with others from Murrysville Alliance Church to hand out Bibles along Main Street. He pointed to his church patch as his favorite, but says his Patriot Guard Rider patch is a close second. Patriot Guard Riders attend the funerals of fallen U.S. servicemen and servicewomen to show respect and have in the past guarded military families from protest groups.bike week day

Patches — and the traditions they’re steeped in — are a staple of Bike Week. For some, the real estate on a vest — or cut — is a sacred space reserved for those pieces of stitched fabric, earned over time in a motorcycle club. But for many others who roll into the motorcycle mecca each March, the trip isn’t complete until they’ve solidified it with a new patch.

One of the busiest places for patches during Bike Week is PatchStop, which has six locations: two on Main, two at Daytona Beach International Speedway and two at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona, said Office Manager Cristina Kibler. Its home base is on the second floor of an office on Main Street.

By the time the last biker rides away from Volusia County, PatchStop expects to sell between 10,000 and 15,000 patches at just one of the Main Street locations, Kibler said.

“Everybody buys about 3 pieces each time and we usually average about 300 to 400 sales each day,” Kibler said, adding that many of those have been patriotic, political or pro-gun. “Right now, one of the biggest things that we’re selling would be the Second Amendment patches,” she said.

But patch vendors don’t survive on Daytona’s Bike Week alone. Rallies are a nationwide occurrence and the PatchStop crew will barely get a break before Kibler and her team split into two teams and head to to Leesburg Bikefest and the Laughlin, Nevada, River Run.

“We’re on the road four to six weeks at a time,” said Kibler, who estimates they attend about 25 rallies a year.

Patches = storiesbike weeeek

Neil Durfey chose a few more patches to add to his vest, including the official Bike Week 2017 patch. He brought his bike down from Buffalo, New York, and will be heading back to the frigid north soon.

“I collect every time I come,” said Durfey, who also snared one with a masonic logo and adding that that one had a more sentimental meaning. “My dad was a mason,” Durfey said.

Like Durfey’s and Shubuck’s, each person’s patches contain stories.

PatchStop seamstress Heather Williams has heard a ton in her six years sewing them on for customers, and she loves when someone finds something they’ve been looking for.

“There was a guy last night. He was a firefighter in 9/11. He walked in and saw this patch up at the top,” Williams said, pointing to a patch with the number 343 embroidered on a firefighter’s helmet and gas mask along with the job’s tools of the trade. “His wife walked in and she started bawling.”

“There’s so many, many, many examples of stuff like that,” Williams said, wishing aloud how she’d like to video record each time she heard a memorable story at her sewing machine.

Colors outlawed

On a ride along Main Street this year, one might notice something conspicuously absent from the landscape.

The brand of the outlaw biker — denoted by the “1%” patch worn over the heart — was a rare sight. In fact, a large percentage of Main Street gawkers and partiers replaced the motorcycle club cuts with Harley Davidson sweatshirts and plain, black leather.

“Big Ben” Bowers, a member of the Leathernecks motorcycle club out of Central Florida, was one of the few wearing his colors on Main with a few of his club members.

“You know why, right?” said Bowers. “Because we’re not welcome.”

Bowers was referring to the “No Colors” rule for bars on Main. While occasionally you’ll see a few motorcycle clubs sporting their territory on their cut, the emblems are usually stowed away in bikes for a Daytona Beach run.

Bowers said even though his is a military club — United States Marine Corps, to be specific — as long as the vest is a club cut, he can’t wear it in a bar. “But we’re not going into a bar,” he said. “We’re just hanging out here.”

Too many patches?

Beyond signifying the solemn loyalty to biker clubs, patches have different meanings for different people.

“It’s about experiences,” said Larry Watkins, who was visiting Daytona from Port St. Lucie. After moving south, he noted he needs to replace his Maryland patch with a Florida one.

He also has a patch from his time stationed in the Philippines. He likes that one because that’s where he met his wife. “For everybody, it means something different,” Watkins said.

Joe Miller, who two weeks ago moved to Daytona Beach from Ohio, said he has four vests.

He has an entire vest dedicated to his involvement with the Patriot Riders, another for “odd sayings,” and yet another for his Air Force service.

The service vest is where his favorite patch lives.

“It’s in memory of my father,” Miller said. “He was in the Army for 13 years. Served in the Korean War and died of complications from Agent Orange.”

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Don’t Need “Snowpocalypse” To Create Your Own Embroidered Patch

Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company in the Windy City, we know a thing or two about snow.  But while we just finished the least snowy January here in 117 years, we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the city’s largest ever snowstorm, 23 inches on Jan. 25-26, 1967.

Our friends in Boise, Idaho, have been deluged with the white stuff this year, and have the right idea, commemorating the event with this cool Snowpocalypse embroidered patch.snow1

This story, written by Katy Moeller of the Idaho Statesman, tells how the idea for a special patch came about.  The woman who designed the emblem, Chrysa Rich, is selling the patches, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

Don’t have an epic snowstorm in your area?  You can commmemorate ANY special event or occasion with a unique embroidered patch.  Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’ve helped customers create patches for birthdays, weddings, golf outings, bike rides and many other events.  Send us your design, even in rough form, and our art department can help you produce an embroidered masterpiece for less than you may expect.  Contact us at sales@c-emblem.com, visit our website, www.c-emblem.com , or call 312/664-4232.

 

Taking Embroidered Emblems Off Your Clothes?

We were amused by  Khadeeja Safdar’s recent story in the Wall St. Journal about consumers removing logos from their branded sportswear.  Seems like a lot of work, why not just cover up the obnoxious company logo with a cool embroidered patch?

Crocodiles (and Polo Ponies) Go Missing as Scalpel-Wielding Consumers Revolt

Since its debut in 1926, the Lacoste crocodile has adorned polo shirts on everyone from the brand’s tennis-star founder to President John F. Kennedy.

Yet you won’t likely find one on Max Ilich. The 47-year-old consultant has extracted the iconic reptilian from at least 10 of his Lacoste shirts. “It’s a tricky surgery,” he said. “But I was pleased with the results.”

Mr. Ilich, who lives in Hampton, N.H., borrowed a scalpel from an ex-girlfriend, a surgeon, to cut out the embroidered crocodile without tearing through the fabric. Then he washed the shirts about four times to hide his work.

He wears Lacoste shirts because of their quality but finds logos “pretentious,” he said, and resents being used as a marketing platform.

“Why would I do someone else’s advertising for free?” Mr. Ilich said.

A branding backlash has some people working hard to remove logos and names from their clothes and accessories. Blogs and online discussion forums offer tips on scratching off the Ray-Ban logo from lenses, peeling away the Ralph Lauren emblem from new pairs of leather shoes and using a felt-tip marker to hide the Under Armour symbol on sports gear.

For embroidered logos, some brand-phobics use a seam ripper—a small tool for unpicking stitches—but the method is time consuming. Each thread has to be pulled out carefully to keep the underlying fabric pristine.

Vinyl logos attached to sportswear are particularly challenging. Some people have tried to dissolve them with nail polish remover. Others just wear the garments inside out.

“This isn’t a trend we’re seeing with Ray-Ban,” said a spokesperson with Luxottica, the company that owns the brand. Ralph Lauren and Under Armour declined to comment.

In the 1990s and 2000s, consumers flashed brand names with pride. Some shoppers now, though, shun such uniformity and prefer unlabeled clothing, which has prompted a few logo-heavy brands to shift course.

“Nobody wants to be branded anymore,” said Aaron Levine, head designer for Abercrombie & Fitch.

Gabrielle Gutierrez, 33 years old, said Abercrombie shirts were an ideal fit, but she didn’t want to display the brand’s moose insignia. “It was a bit of a dilemma,” said the neuroscientist, who lives in Seattle.

Ms. Gutierrez said she learned one way to “de-Abercrombie-ify” her shirts. She bought iron-on patches from the clearance bin at a Jo-Ann fabric store to cover the Abercrombie moose. Her shirts now have eyeballs, smiley faces and palm trees, a style she described as “personalized and subversive.”

Abercrombie recently launched a marketing campaign and changed its logo to cultivate a new image for its clothing line, after its highly sexualized branding began to alienate too many buyers.

Ms. Gutierrez hasn’t revisited an Abercrombie store since the change. She stopped shopping there because the logo kept getting “bigger and bigger,” she said. “It became impossible to cover.”

Research shows that midtier brands often have the loudest logos because their buyers want to signal wealth. Seasoned luxury shoppers may prefer more subtle branding.

“People in the know can recognize a high-end brand from the little things such as the stitching,” said Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who dismissed logo removal as “ludicrous.”

Discerning shoppers who can identify a Brooks Brothers shirt from the six-pleat shirring at the cuffs or an Alden loafer from its distinctive stitching are “part of your tribe,” said Jerrod Swanton, age 37, of Springfield, Ohio.

eyeball-patch-afGabrielle Gutierrez used an eyeball patch to cover the Abercrombie & Fitch logo on a shirt. PHOTO: GABRIELLE GUTIERREZ

He writes a clothes blog called Oxford Cloth Button Down and said he prefers not to advertise how much he spends on clothing or where he shops. “It is becoming more and more challenging to find articles of clothing without the logos,” Mr. Swanton said.

He and several of his blog readers shared their disapproval, for example, when Brooks Brothers added a logo to one of its classic sweaters.

“Some styles come with logo and others without,” said Arthur Wayne, a spokesman for Brooks Brothers. “We leave it to the customer to decide.”

Lacoste was a pioneer in logo-branded clothing. By the 1980s, its shirts had become staples of preppy wardrobes, and its tiny green crocodiles seemed to spawn Ralph Lauren ponies, Tommy Bahama marlins and Abercrombie’s moose.

Professional tennis player Rene Lacoste was nicknamed “The Crocodile” after he won an alligator-skin suitcase in a wager with the French Davis Cup captain, the company said, and the logo first appeared on his blazer.

lacoste-croc

French tennis player Rene Lacoste wearing a blazer embroidered with a crocodile motif. PHOTO: TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Nothing personal, Mr. Ilich said, but he just doesn’t want it showing on his Lacoste shirts.

Lacoste said no executive was available to comment.

Jeff Taxdahl, owner of Thread Logic, a custom logo embroidery company based in Minneapolis, has a warning for logo tamperers. “Unless you’re fairly skilled at it, you would destroy the shirt,” he said. “And once you get the threads out, the outline of the image may still exist due to the needle holes.”

That is a risk some shoppers are willing to take. Ian Connel, 33 years old, who lives near St. Paul, Minn., said he tried it out on an Abercrombie shirt.

“I don’t want to be seen in their stores, let alone wear the moose,” he said, though he likes the brand’s snug fit.

He turned the shirt inside out and painstakingly removed each thread. “It has a few small holes,” he said, “but it’s still better than having the logo.”

* * * *

The Chicago Embroidery Company, in business since 1890, can help clothing manufacturers and others create distinctive emblems that consumer will want to wear, not scrape off.  Visit them at www.c-emblem.com , sales@c-emblem.com , or call 312/664-4232.

From Alia Bhatt to Parineeti Chopra: How celebs are wearing the ’90s embroidered patch

This originally appeared in Indian Express, showing the embroidered patch as a world-wide fashion phenomena!

If you are a follower of trends, then you probably know by now how fashionistas around the world have rekindled their romance with the ’90s. We are nearing the end of 2016 but crop tops are still big and so are chokers. Another trend which has managed to make waves is the embroidered patch. Considered as an emblem of one’s individuality, this trend which initially started as a DIY tip is still preferred to give a quirky and youthful spin to an otherwise sombre look.

Considering how updated young style icons of Bollywood are, it’s not surprising to see them embracing this trend. Lead by the bubbly and vivacious Alia Bhatt, other celebs like Parineeti Chopra, Esha Gupta and Amy Jackson are following suit. Here’s a look at how they rocked the trend.

indian-jacqueline-fernandez21Jacqueline Fernandez in Ikai by Ragini Ahuja. (Source: Varinder Chawla)

Denim-on-denim is not an easy combination to pull off but Jacqueline Fernandez did more than well with the wide leg trousers, a denim crop top and a beautiful denim duster jacket with whimsical patches. She picked this look from Ikai by Ragini Ahuja.

indian-alia2-bhatAlia Bhatt in a cute patchwork dress. (Source: Varinder Chawla)

Alia Bhatt has been seen flaunting applique patches on her jackets, crop tops and shorts on several occasions. Here, the actress is seen in a comfy denim dress to beat travel blues.

indian-esha-1-ghuptaEsha Gupta shows us how to look sexy in denim patchwork shirt. (Source; Instagram/Sanjana Batra)

Esha Gupta gave us a masterclass on how to look chic by teaming a patchwork shirt with a pencil skirt. Perfect for a casual evening or even, a lunch meeting!

indian-amy1-jacksonAmy Jackson rocks an embroidered patch denim from Koovs. (Source: Instagram/Amy Jackson)

Amy Jackson was seen working really, really hard on her street style and we can easily say that she has taken it to the next level! The red bomber jacket from Adidas looks so good with those quirky denims from Koovs. Maybe, because that patch-work jeans is a thing of beauty but still, she wore it well.

At The Chicago Embroidery Company, we can help you create quantities of patches in your own custom designs.  Visit our website at http://www.c-emblem.com, send your image to sales@c-emblem.com or call us at 312/664-4232.

Aviator “Wings” Emblem Began As Embroidered Patch

avia-ww-2-d_13131

These wings date from WWII

The awarding of a wings emblem to newly trained pilots dates back to  the World War I era.  Pilot Billy Mitchell tried numerous times to be sent overseas to join the fight. He worked on some sketches for a new aviator insignia

aviator-badge-1913

This metallic badge was presented to newly trained pilots.

that sought to break away from the Army’s badge heritage. In August 1917, his design was incorporated into an embroidered patch — pilot wings were born. Mitchell finally managed to get assigned to a unit in Europe. Unfortunately, he

air-patch-post-11441-1272831249

These are early squadron patches from the U.S. Army Air Corps, circa 1920

arrived in theater on Nov. 11, 1918— the same day as the signing of the armistice agreement that signaled the end of the war. He oversaw the demobilization of aviation units with the help of his new executive officer, Captain Carl A. Spaatz.

In World War II, the shoulder sleeve insignia worn by all personnel of the Army Air Forces (AAF) wherever stationed was approved on 23 February 1942. The patch was designed by Mr. James T. Rawls, an artist and a member of General Arnold’s staff. He made many designs, most incorporating pilot wings, but Arnold rejected them all. Rawls, dejected byavia-080311-f-1234p-001 his lack of success, was shown a picture of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill giving his well-known “V for Victory” sign. Rawls made a quick sketch bending the wings up, and Arnold said, “That’s just what I wanted.” Arnold, incidentally, is said to have designed the first Air Force pilot wings in 1917 when he was a major.

In March 1943, shoulder sleeve insignia were authorized for each overseas air force, and the winged star was limited to those AAF personnel not in overseas commands.

On June 25, 1943, personnel in all air forces, including those in the United States, were authorized distinctive insignia, and only Headquarters AAF and a few other independent commands continued to wear the winged star. It is sometimes known as the Hap Arnold emblem, named for General Henry H. Arnold who commanded the AAF in World War II.

The ultramarine disk represents the medium in which the Air Forces operated, and the white star with red disk was the identifying symbol of U.S. Army and Navy airplanes since 1921. (The red disk was removed from aircraft markings in 1942 to prevent confusion with Japanese insignia.) The golden wings symbolize victorious operation.

Although the patch is no longer worn on Air Force uniforms, the design appears on U.S. Air Force uniform buttons.

Founded in 1890, The Chicago Chicago Embroidery Company made millions of insignia for the military during World War II.  Today, we continue to do custom embroidery work for the government, veterans groups, associations, youth sports and more.  Check out our website, contact us at sales@c-emblem.com or call 312/644-4232.
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Playful [Embroidered] Patches Created by Friends

Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’re excited that the fashion patch craze shows no signs of abating, as evidenced by this recent Huffington Post piece , a profile of a Swedish band sporting patches on their denim and an Aimee Farrell story from last month’s NY Times Style Magazine:

Fashion 1  “Patches have always been symbols of identity,” says the illustrator Christabel MacGreevy. “They’re a way of marking allegiance and signing up to something, whether it’s your school, the band you like or a 1970s motorcycle gang.” MacGreevy, 25, is herself outfitted in patches on a recent morning in London: her black jeans are worn with a baseball vest that has the word ‘chic’ stitched onto the front. She is discussing the ethos behind Itchy Scratchy Patchy, the playful line of decorative patches — and now clothing — that she co-founded with her lifelong friend, the British model Edie Campbell, a year ago. Decorated with brightly stitched marigolds, toadstools, centipedes and sumo wrestlers, her leather biker jacket, which is nonchalantly slung over the back of a chair, is a vivid scrapbook of the brand’s embroidered iron-ons, which have become popular with Courtney Love and Gigi Hadid.

For today, the elegant kitchen belonging to Campbell’s mother, the fashion stylist turned architect Sophie Hicks, doubles as the Itchy Scratchy HQ. The minimal space’s white walls embroidered-patches-19-1200x800serve as a counterpoint to the irreverent aesthetic of the brand — which began on a whim, and without outside investment, as an antidote to the samey, normcore looks that have become so dominant. The marble-topped kitchen table is littered with laptops, phones and safety pins, all the accoutrements of their self-described cottage industry. Even Campbell’s nearby West London apartment has become a makeshift storage unit for the pair’s latest project: An 85-piece clothing collection of vintage Levi’s denim and Sunspel T-shirts, all lovingly embroidered, patched and painted in their inimitable decorative style, which goes on sale this weekend at London’s Dover Street Market. It’s the first time the pair have ever produced a capsule of clothes bearing their own iron-on designs — as a way to show how Itchy Scratchy patches can be worn and styled.

MacGreevy and Campbell first met as children at St Paul’s School in Barnes — and whether they’re scaling fashionAmountains of fabric at recycling plants in search of the perfect Levi’s jean jacket or touring the meticulous T-shirt production line at Sunspel’s factory in the north of England, a youthful energy pervades everything they do. For the last two months, they have been embellishing the pieces they hand-sourced — including Levi’s jeans from the 1980s and 1990s, denim jackets and plenty of reworked monochrome Sunspel tees. Picking the pieces, Campbell says, was simple: “If we wouldn’t wear it ourselves, it doesn’t get made.” She continues: “We’ve both studied the visual arts, so we’re decisive and confident about what we like. We know what works, even if we don’t know why. It’s not like we’re trying to push the future of fashion forward — this is about having fun.”

Campbell’s experience inside the industry (she was first discovered by the photographer Mario Testino a decade ago) allows her an innate understanding of fashion that comes in handy when shooting the collections, though she’s the first to admit that styling clothes is very different from designingfashion monki-denim-aw16-8 and producing them. “There’s no database, it’s a case of calling everyone you know and saying ‘help!’” says Campbell. She credits the British designer Henry Holland with helping to make Itchy Scratchy happen. “He let us sit in on a production meeting at his factory where we produced our first patches. We may never have done it without him.”

This week, between taking the Eurostar to Paris, where she opened and closed Chanel’s fall couture show, Campbell could be found in MacGreevy’s Camberwell studio sorting out logistics and stitching on labels (every piece is sewn with its own edition number, she says, proudly). Luckily, and somewhat unusually in fashion, they’re both early risers: “If I haven’t had a text from Edie by 7 a.m., it feels weird,” jokes MacGreevy, the originator of the brand’s trademark cartoony figures, who studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. At times of stress, MacGreevy often finds herself furiously pinning and cutting things out. Campbell takes a different tack, seeking solace in more surprising quarters: Excel spreadsheets. “I love them!” she says, her voice raising an octave. “When everything starts getting out of control, I find it soothing.”  Itchy Scratchy Patchy, $85-$325, launches at Dover Street Market July 9, doverstreetmarket.com
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But don’t fret fashionistas, you can create a contemporary look for your line for much less than you might imagine.  The Chicago Embroidery Company sews custom embroidered emblems, based on your design. Send image for free quote.  sales@c-emblem.com, http://www.c-emblem.com or call 312/664-4232.  NOTE: Individual patches are not sold, the company manufactures emblems in quantity.