As more and more brands opt out of working with fur – Prada, Burberry, Gucci, and Chanel, to name a few – the concept of wearing an actual animal pelt as luxury clothing appears to be on its last legs. Great news for minks, but potentially bad news for the estimated one million people who work in fur production. To hammer the nail in the coffin, last year London Fashion Week announced that it was banning the use of fur entirely, which is a pretty good way to discourage any new designers from even going near it.
Perhaps as a reaction to this, or perhaps as a way of expressing our more primitive, primal urges by replicating the skin of exotic animals, there has been an explosion in brands turning to synthetic reproductions of animal prints. These new designs are elevating stripes, spots, and scales beyond the usual outerwear staples and into loafers, wallets, scarves, and shoulder bags.
Amid a fashion landscape that has been leaning into technical fabrics and futuristic iridescent treatments, there’s something to be said for a piece of clothing that references the greatest designer of all: mother nature herself.
Take a look at our favorite pieces exploring the new animal prints for the season.
In terms of nature-inspired prints, surely the biggest player in the fashion sphere last year was surely snakeskin – first spotted on the 1017 ALYX 9SM runway back in 2018. The print is seen below on a pair of Off-White™ snake-embossed leather loafers. There’s also a pair of Python-effect sandals, courtesy of Suicoke, an ultra-loud snakeskin print shirt from PushBUTTON, and a super cozy pair of loose silk pants from Edward Crutchley.
The cow has been woefully neglected in the world of animal prints. However, 2019 has brought cowboy culture back into modern relevance, thanks to the Yee Haw Agenda, Lil Nas X, and the fact that cowboys have always been valid style icons. Below, there’s a brown cow colorway on a Suicoke slipper and a pouch from Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry, and a classic black/white cow pattern on a leather shoulder bag from Marques Almeida.
Tiger stripes have been on our radar thanks to the exceptionally decadent coat from Celine’s FW19 collection, but there are many brands doing interesting things with the regal pattern. Notably Saint Laurent, who rendered the print in a red silk short sleeve shirt with a camp collar, and NEIGHBORHOOD, who adopted the orange/black tiger stripes into a chic neckerchief.
Leopards – arguably the most beautiful member of the big cat family – sport a print so illustrious, it will probably never go out of style. However, our favorite leopard print piece of the season comes from Japanese label Wacko Maria, who have designed a military-inspired jacket from durable cotton ripstop with a photorealistic rosette pattern and a contrasting red “Disco Devil” print on the back.
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