How the Needlework Industry Inspired but Also Failed the New Gen of Crafters

In late 2020 an online clothing company UNIF produced a “Stitch Bag” that retailed at $252. It sold out. Except it was a dupe of a ’70s Columbia Minerva Ecology Tote Bag. And it was made of yarn and plastic canvas.

Swipe!!!!!!!

UNIF is an online clothing company that caters to the demographic of Gen Z particularly those of TikTok and other platforms where the young fashion creators can showcase unique styles typically of vintage clothing. UNIF is also known for their dupes so much so that someone created an Instagram account Unifcopied, but… well… they also benefit via affiliate links.

According to this article by The Zoe Report, the UNIF Stitch Bag obtained viral status in late 2020 because of its craftcore style. Craftcore meaning handmade plus fashion. Apparently the bag quickly sold out, but admirers were left wanting so they started making their own. It is hard to say what platform came first to help, TikTok or sites like Depop where unique clothing resale is vogue (yes, the adjective and yes, I had to look it up.)

daisydazed a seller on Depop created patterns of the motifs used on the bag. They were getting bombarded with questions about how to recreate the bag that daisydazed had to say this, “Hey guys I wont be answering any more messages to do with this post 💗 i love keeping it up for you guys to use but i tend to get 5-10 messages a day on this pattern 🧚‍♀️ My best advice is to test and trial and message in the comments with your advice to help others!”

Help each other they did because they had no where else to go. The UNIF post only called it a “Stitch Bag”. Even before realizing it was a copy, I could see that it was needlepoint (a US term, tapestry or canvaswork are UK terms) from the image because it used the tent stitch. Then vintage clothing gurus recognized the bag, and it was pointed out as a copy of a needlepoint tote bag from the 1970s. I have been around that long and knew what terms to Google for. Heck, I eventually remembered seeing the dang thing. The new generation of crafters did not. They did not know where to go or what keywords to search for, nor was our industry on any of the platforms young crafters frequent.

Some of the young recreators used the term needlepoint because they saw the original kit with that word. And so they used the tent stitch to make their own bag perhaps not knowing stitches like continental or basketweave. Others went with cross-stitch probably because that is a relatively popular and recognizable term and needlework style. Both are fine and great! Look at them doing it anyway. Good.

Where we failed as an industry is the part where young people paid $252 for a vintage bag made of acrylic yarn and plastic canvas. My questions are: How does our industry help? Could we have done better? Where do we go from here?

Again:

  • This was Part 1 for the Industry: The History
  • Part 2 is for the New Crafters: The Resources

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  1. DIY Info on Making Your Own UNIF Stitch Bag or Mini Stitch Bag – Frogging News

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