Apr 16th, 2021, 01:45 PM

Beware of the Leopard

By Kate Tuttle
Image Credit: Ivanov/Unsplash
After years of hibernation, it looks like animal prints are back in fashion

There are few fashion trends as divisive as the animal print.  Depending on the type, style and time period that the prints are worn in, it can be perceived as anything from cheap and gaudy to trendy and chic. Like other statement pieces, it can make or break an outfit. But whether you love it or hate it, animal print is consistently breaking into the new waves of fashion. Recently, animal print has made a comeback, but with new patterns and new ways of styling it. 

A Woman Wearing Leopard Print. Image Credit: Lovaski/Unsplash

Animal prints have been in fashion since humans first started wearing clothing. As the original clothing we wore was animal skin and fur, the concept of having animal prints on an article of clothing is nothing new. Animal furs were often a sign of wealth and strength, and wearers of the fur would proudly don their animal prints to show off their power. Animal print entered popular fashion as early as the 18th century, when items such as fur coats and animal-inspired silks became the craze of fashionable upper class women. These days, animal prints usually don’t come from an actual animal, and instead are printed onto the fabric of choice. Modern day animal print trends kicked off in the 1930s with popular movies such as Tarzan the Apeman popularizing the iconic leopard/cheetah print. A resurgence of animal print came in the 1960s with the bohemian fashion movement, experimenting with new patterns and styles. As the animal print movement started off with patterns of wild animals from Africa and Asia, such as leopard and tiger print, they thus gave the image of exoticness to the wearers. Because of their bold design and association with wildness and power, they began to become a symbol of sex appeal.

Last year, with a new season of styles inspired by the Old West, we saw an emergence of cow print in the forefronts of fashion influencers' closets. The monochrome colors as well as the simple, asymmetrical design of cow print gives this pattern a more modern and minimalist look, and thus is more palatable to the modern day fashionista. Small hints of cow print have been slipped into the wardrobes of fashion influencers from all walks of life -- transcending age and style. Usually the cow print is worn as an accessory, often on a mini-bag, a heeled boot, or even a phone case. The cow print follows a trend of a similar pattern: the zebra print.  Like the cow print, the zebra print’s simple black and white stripes made it an easy-to-incorporate pattern into any wardrobe, making it a hit in the beginning of 2020.

It seems like for now, animal print is trendy, but only in certain styles. Much of the general population still do not own animal print pieces, and it is still mostly reserved for the bold.  Now that we are transitioning into Spring, animal prints are being swapped out for brighter, more seasonal patterns.  As the cow print fad starts to fade out, we can only wonder what the next animal print trend will be. But I expect we won't have to wait long to find out.