Of course, fashion and crafts have long been bedfellows; designer Jonathan Anderson launched The Loewe Craft Prize in 2013 to celebrate exceptional international artisans, while sustainability pioneer Bethany Williams has impressed with her environmentally-friendly pieces with a social conscience since 2019.
What crafts renaissances throughout history have in common is the way they’re used as a quiet form of rebellion against the status quo. “In a way, punk could be seen as making-do-and-mend,” says Oriole Cullen, the V&A’s head of modern textiles and fashion.
“The original punk aesthetic was much more about what you found in a charity shop and recreating and reworking things in a new way – that cutting and slashing of images and the naive way of printing. Peaks in craft are usually tied into a social movement – it doesn’t tend to be something that sits on its own. In the ‘70s, the rise of the handmade was a reaction against the shiny, new and plastic of the ‘60s. At the moment, it makes sense for fashion to adopt this slow fashion approach.”
Fashion and Textiles Museum curator Dennis Nothdruft agrees that the current rise of crafts is a form of self-expression and a backlash against dictated trends. “I have picked up a sense of subversion, and an undercurrent of small rebellions against the norms,” he explains. “An awareness that the current fashion system is flawed and needs to find new ways of working that are sustainable has permeated this approach to crafting and making.”