Worn like a small piece of jewelry, custom lapel pins, also known as enamel pins, are typically adorned on a suit, dress, coat, or jacket and are a classy way to show off your personality. People wear them for a variety of reasons. Some like to show their love of country with a flag pin, others like to express support for a particular cause, and many simply like to collect them. No matter the reason, rest assured that there’s a pin out there for you. Or, you can custom design one to your liking.
Did you know that lapel pins date back to the 13th century? Using a specific metalworking technique called cloisonné; the precursor to the lapel pin was developed near the Byzantine Empire and was popularized during the Yuan Dynasty in China. This type of enamel technique has been refined since and is also used to produce other ornate pieces such as jewelry, fine art, housewares, and hairpins.
While lapel pins don’t have any actual purpose, many would argue that they make a political statement. Still, others would steadfastly contend the pins are all about fashion flare.
For hundreds of years, lapel pins or brooches have been used to show affiliation to a specific sector of society. In contemporary times, for many companies, large and small, lapel pins have become an integral element of corporate identity. Often times, the design of their lapel pin is the corporate logo or simply the name of the company.
Businesses also use lapel pins to recognize and reward employees who achieve certain milestones or accomplishments within the organization. They can also make corporate events more memorable for those win pins during competitions.
As a gift, lapel pins are lasting and demonstrate a real sense of thoughtfulness when customized.
Perhaps the single greatest influence on the popularization of lapel pins is the military. The connection between pins and the armed forces dates back to the Legion of the Roman ear when their state-sponsored army could not distinguish the enemy from their allies on the battlefield. The solution came in the form of a custom badge, or pin, for each legion.
In the medieval period, aristocrats and knights of various levels designed complex custom badges (or pins) and displayed them on their shields as a means of identification. The composition of such badges generally has a specific format, including the symbol, the owner of the badge, history, mascots, auspicious colors, and maxims.
Like many products over the past 20 years, nearly all manufacturing of lapel pins takes place in China.
The design of each pin starts off very much like animation in that they are all hand-drawn with a blue line. From there, the drawing will be either digitized or finished on a light-box to capture all the intricate details of the design. Once approved, the design is inked, colored, and transferred onto a mechanical sheet. The sheet serves as a blueprint that identifies the measurements and call-outs for manufacturing the parts.
Whether you’re designing a custom pin for personal or professional purposes or collecting custom pins you like, lapel pins are globally popular and there’s a vast assortment to choose from–so here are some tips. When designing your own custom pin, get as much information as possible about your pin’s audience and how your design can best engage their needs or interests. Also, whether you’re working with a single color or a full pallet of shades, color choice is one of the most important parts of pin design. Remember, custom pins can be a compelling visual medium and your color choice helps to immediately communicate ideas and release emotions tied to your overall design.
While lapel pins have been used historically for many purposes, today they’re largely used as a fashion accessory. From floral lapel pins that mimic a boutonniere to badge pins that show affiliation (e.g. country flag) to collar pins, lapel pins come in all shapes, sizes, and forms.