If we were to treat certain fashion elements' development in human terms, then pins and patches could be seen to be in its respectable creative professional phase. They experienced a prolonged adolescence stretching from hippy staples like the Peace pin and Steal Your Face patches all the way through punk and post-punk classics like the Black Flag logo. As the 90s and 00s led to increased access to handmade pin and patch-making materials, what was once a means of political expression and subcultural affiliation gradually evolved into more sophisticated and art-inspired forms. Then enamel pins blew up on Instagram (as did patches) and pretty soon everyone from punks to preps wearing just a handful of the hundreds of operations that have popped up in the past few years.
These days, millennial miscreants like Killer Acid and a host of other sellers are fixtures at unlikely events like Comic Arts Brooklyn, peddling their pins and patches alongside the many sleep-deprived illustrators and writers. Meanwhile, perennially zeitgeist-y brands like Opening Ceremony are selling Mitsubi's enamel alien pins. And what else to demonstrate the arrival of pins and patches as respected and uniquely artistic fashion accessories then a gallery show?
Last month, over 2,000 pin and patch enthusiasts gathered from literally all walks of life to check out the 10 companies who had met via DM on the Gram to put together "The Pin and Patch Show" at the 100-person capacity Chinatown Soup gallery in New York.
The person behind the show is 23-year-old Charlie Ambler, who graduated from NYU. Soon after finishing his degree over a year ago, Ambler was inspired to start his own pin company by a friend of his who had one of his own, Inner Decay.
After finding himself a manufacturer, Ambler soon set to creating a set of pins and patches that didn't neatly confine to any single one of the many micro-genres within the pins and patches world. Be it punk and occult-inspired, manga-derived, collaborations with artists, Brooklyn iconography like the Club-Mate logo, the Tolkien-inspired Gates of Argonath and other fantastical and woodsy imagery, or slogans that you'd otherwise see on your local bartender's t-shirts ("Fuck You You Fucking Fuck"), Strike Gently Co. stands out by dabbling in all of the above without any of it feeling in the least bit thirsty. And that's saying something for a year-old company run by an NYU grad.
So to highlight some of Ambler's savvy design work and smart selection in collaborators, here are some of the pins and patches we're going to be ordering from Strike Gently's online store right after we hit "post."