As any wannabe sartorialist or religious fashion follower knows, the fashion seasons work in advance – so when we have blue skies and sun aplenty outside, fashion designers have already set their sights on what wares they can create and peddle come the winter months. Recently, I have decided to imitate the fashion greats and launch a series of articles detailing the upcoming trends and themes for autumn/winter 2012.

However, fear not, these articles are designed to showcase upcoming trends with a spring/summer 2012 twist – so you can start getting involved ahead of the trend and become the forward-thinking fashion visionaries you really are. Next on the fashion agenda is the use of a print/graphic that takes inspiration from our furry, feathered (and in some cases) scaly friends – the use of animal motifs in menswear.

Animal Motifs

The AW12 menswear collections featured a plethora of prints and patterns across a range of garments, with one of the biggest influences the use of animal motifs – featured by several fashion designers.

Jil Sander’s collection featured knitted sweaters with dinosaurs, whales and fish motifs created from almost childlike drawings, applied to both the chest and oversized panels at the back of the neck. These were worn displayed over the top of blazer jackets, adding an interesting shape and dynamic to the outfits. The dinosaur motif was also featured on accessories such as scarves, beanie hats and ties, adding a quirky twist to otherwise standard accessories.

What I found most interesting in the Jil Sander collection was that these animal motif garments offered a complete contrast to the majority of the collection – most of which was leather-heavy, with a lot of tailoring and a monotone palette of black and grey. In fact, despite there only being a comparatively small number of animal motif garments in the Jil Sander collection, the dinosaur and whale sweaters made more of an impact than the rest of the collection due to Raf Simons’ unique take on this menswear trend:

Animal Motifs on The Jil Sander Men's AW12 Runway

Burberry Prorsum also featured several items of knitwear and shirting displaying fox and owl faces, which were created using beading, studs and coloured panels to add an interesting textural and colourful dynamic. The way the owl and fox faces were displayed almost created a geometric, pagan-like design, which is quite quirky and unexpected – especially from Burberry which normally tends to be more classic in their autumn/winter collections:

Animal Motifs Burberry Prorsum Menswear AW12

Perhaps the cleverest use of animal motifs by a high fashion designer featured in the Dior Homme collection in Paris. The animal of choice by Dior Homme was a white bird, with the image repeated within individual garments to create the illusion of a camouflage-like pattern – cleverly complementing the military feeling of the whole collection.

This bold pattern was applied all over to aviator-style cropped jackets, thigh-length shearling collared coats and even floor-length cape-style coats to create a real impact. The same pattern was also applied to trousers, and another popular AW12 accessory we featured recently; the baseball cap. The use of repeated animal motifs to create the illusion of a pattern was an innovative idea and the result created an eye-catching and interesting effect for the audience:

Animal Motifs Dior Homme Menswear AW12

Other designers to feature animal motifs included Paul Smith, whose collection had a nautical theme and therefore featured aquatic animals such as jellyfish, sharks, lobsters and octopuses applied to sweaters and other knitwear items.

Up-and-coming Italian designer Andrea Pompilio featured large images of ‘Cheetah’, the chimpanzee star from classic Tarzan movies, printed onto shirts and t-shirts to add a simian vibe to his already quirky collection.

In addition, the Louis Vuitton collection moved away from the motif trend but retained an animalistic theme by making frequent use of bird feather pins, which added a sense of dandy refinement to their collection. These colourful feather pins were nonchalantly hung from jacket lapels and breast pockets and featured in both smarter, tailored looks as well as more casual looks:

Animal Influence - Paul Smith, Andrea Pompilio and Louis Vuitton Menswear AW12

The Animal Influence

If we look at the recent history of the use of animal images/motifs in the industry, it is clear to see that our furry and feathered friends have often had a strong influence. For a start, animals have clearly had a big impact in specific logos for certain designers and high-street brands. Lacoste have their classic crocodile, Aubin & Wills have their fox wearing a top hat, and Hermes have their horse and carriage to name but a few.

Speaking of Lacoste, their autumn 2012 capsule collection by Lacoste L!ve features colourful animal prints by acclaimed US illustrator Micah Lidberg and was recently featured in Shortlist magazine. These bold, brash prints feature bright dinosaurs and Lacoste’s trademark crocodile in colourful, natural surroundings and are applied to t-shirts and the classic Lacoste polo shirt.

There is almost a comic-strip feeling to the pieces in this capsule collection and the designs inject a ferocious feeling of colour and pattern into AW12:

Lacoste L!ve Capsule Collection with Micah Lidberg

Animal Motif Lookbook

Men's Animal Motif Apparel Lookbook

Current Animal Motif Apparel

On the high street, several brands are introducing an animalistic feel to their collections and featuring items featuring animal logos and motifs. The animal motif trend seems to be best applied to tees, knitwear and accessories, and range from small animal logos to repeated animal prints to large, chest-covering images.

Topman have a burnt orange, short-sleeved shirt with an all over bounding gazelle print and in terms of accessories are also offering gazelle print socks, a blue and white zebra fish print bow tie and a chunky statement animal head collar necklace. For a more subtle take on the trend, Paul Smith have knitwear, hoodies and tees available with a small, colourful zebra motif (Paul Smith cleverly using the natural stripes of the zebra and adapting them to his iconic coloured stripes), and Ted Baker are also offering printed animal tees and all-over print boxer shorts featuring small silhouettes of deer, dogs and foxes.

At the higher end of the scale, Mr Porter are offering the popular Jil Sander whale and dinosaur sweaters along with other accessories featuring the same animal motifs, as well as the Burberry Prorsum owl and dog motif tees and knitwear. The site also features a menacing shark sweatshirt by Givenchy, a denim shirt with small hummingbird motif by MCQ Alexander McQueen and a colourful jellyfish print pocket square by Paul Smith.

My Wardrobe are also offering a Marc by Marc Jacobs tee featuring a plethora of animals from turtles to cockatoos to elephants to lizards, and for a real spring/summer vibe, Vilbrequin have a fantastically colourful pair of swim shorts available in bright turquoise with an all-over pink lobster print:

  • Jil Sander Mens Whale Print T-shirtJil Sander Mens Whale Print T-shirt
  • Paul Smith – Jeans 5501-p5475 Black T-shirtPaul Smith - Jeans 5501-p5475 Black T-shirt
  • Asos T-shirt With Fish PrintAsos T-shirt With Fish Print
  • Topman Red Gazelle Print Short Sleeve ShirtTopman Red Gazelle Print Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Topman White Lobster Print Short Sleeve ShirtTopman White Lobster Print Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Burberry Prorsum Owl-print Cotton-jersey T-shirtBurberry Prorsum Owl-print Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Topman Ecru Butterfly Print ShirtTopman Ecru Butterfly Print Shirt
  • Mcq Alexander Mcqueen Embroidered Washed-denim ShirtMcq Alexander Mcqueen Embroidered Washed-denim Shirt
  • Just Cavalli Eagle Hooded SweatshirtJust Cavalli Eagle Hooded Sweatshirt
  • Jil Sander Whale Intarsia Camel And Wool-blend SweaterJil Sander Whale Intarsia Camel And Wool-blend Sweater
  • Burberry Prorsum Hand-stitched Dog Sweater 127776Burberry Prorsum Hand-stitched Dog Sweater 127776
  • Thom Browne Ss13 Men’s Summer Fair Isle Crewneck JumperThom Browne Ss13 Men’s Summer Fair Isle Crewneck Jumper
  • Vilebrequin Turquoise Pineapple Lobster Moorea SwimshortsVilebrequin Turquoise Pineapple Lobster Moorea Swimshorts
  • Paul Smith Mens Printed Jellyfish TrouserPaul Smith Mens Printed Jellyfish Trouser
  • Ted Baker Animal TrunkTed Baker Animal Trunk
  • Topman Blue Zebra Fish Print Bow TieTopman Blue Zebra Fish Print Bow Tie
  • Jil Sander Dinosaur-motif Silk TieJil Sander Dinosaur-motif Silk Tie
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Printed Fine-cotton Pocket SquarePaul Smith Shoes & Accessories Printed Fine-cotton Pocket Square

So there we have it, another AW12 trend likely to become a big hitter on the high street later this year. Personally, I think some of the looks are a bit too extravagant to make it in the mass market and I feel that this kind of trend works better in more subtle ways – so the accessory market could do well out of this.

Saying that, for some strange reason I do like the Jil Sander whale and dinosaur knitwear options – autumn/winter collections can often be inundated by smart tailoring and monotone colours, so it is quite refreshing that some designers such as Jil Sander and Burberry Prorsum are retaining an element of whimsical fun in their offerings.

But what do you guys out there think? Do you see yourself going all animalistic this autumn/winter, or do you feel that this look is a little too wild? Perhaps you feel smaller logos work better than bold, large images or vice-versa.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and musings.