Print, pattern and more print! That is all you have heard us banging on about recently on FashionBeans. If last spring/summer was all about bright, pop colour, this season it is the turn of pattern and print to truly stamp its mark on menswear. Instead of generically discussing the pros and cons of pattern and print, we here at FashionBeans felt it was about time to give you guys a breakdown of the main variations that are currently making an impact on the menswear scene.
Now we understand that confidently wearing and owning patterned garments for men is not the easiest of things to do. In fact, I think a lot of men prefer to dress in plainer, more muted colours in order to remain classic and not look like they are trying too hard to follow the most recent trends. The key here is to pick a patterned garment and anchor it with neutral items which complement the print – rather than trying to cover all print trends at once to show how ‘sartorially clued up’ you are.
With this in mind, in part one of this guide, we will be breaking down 4 of the major print/pattern trends that have come directly off the runways. By the time we have wrapped up another 4 prints tomorrow, hopefully even the most reserved of readers will have found one that they think would work within their wardrobe this season. So without further ado, what are the principal print trends making waves right now?
It’s official, florals are no longer largely associated with the female of the species. Men can wear floral patterns and remain masculine.
One of the biggest designer advocates of the floral pattern trend for SS12 was the collection by Prada. The advertising campaign used talented actor Michael Pitt as the model, and the amount of floral print garments featured is astonishing. Floral patterns not only adorned Prada’s shirts – the print also made its way onto shorts and even full length trousers in playful pastel pinks, oranges and greens.
Kenzo supported the trend in a slightly different way, with floral and foliage print shirts, jackets and matching hats in more muted tones – channelling a 70s wallpaper meets decadent upholstery feel. Other designers who also backed the floral print trend were Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and Brioni.
For a more whimsical take on the floral print trend, Hawaiian shirts are remaining popular this season – despite polarising opinion – and brands such as Topman, ASOS, YMC and even Polo Ralph Lauren have featured Hawaiian-style shirts in recent collections.
A recent publication of Another Man magazine actually teamed both types of floral shirts in one of their editorial shoots, layering Prada’s floral print shirts over Hawaiian shirts by Carlo Manzi, for a real melange of pattern and colour. It cannot be denied that of all patterns, florals are a mighty popular choice in menswear this season.
Geometric patterns represent one of the print trends that tend to be highly cyclical and come around every few seasons or so – SS12 is no exception.
Burberry Prorsum were one of the biggest supporters of geometrics and the collection consisted of several round neck tees and jumpers with triangle, square and rectangle embellishments in bright primary colour patterns extending around the neckline and down the top half of the garment. The geometric colour patterns were also echoed in the Burberry Prorsum choice of footwear – woven leather, fringed lace-ups with sharp injections of aqua blues and mustard yellows.
Other high fashion designers to feature geometric prints have been Gucci, Jonathan Saunders and Giorgio Armani (whose SS12 collection was actually titled ‘Printwear’) with a cropped blouson jacket in a geometric zigzag, black and white pattern, dually supporting the sports trend which is an underlying presence this season.
Geometrics have also been making an impact in the fashion press. Esquire magazine recently featured a two-piece Calvin Klein geometric print suit – admittedly a hard pattern to pull off head-to-toe, but the subtle silvery-grey colouring of the suit means the pattern isn’t too overpowering. In the same issue of Esquire, Miles Kane modelled a silk double-breasted blazer and matching shirt in an attractive burgundy geometric print by Hardy Amies. Even Orlebar Brown, famous for their simple, plain swimwear, have backed the pattern trend and featured geometric print swim shorts in GQ USA.
Another type of geometric print that seems to be increasing in popularity is the medallion print, where a series of medallion shapes are repeated to create a pattern. Again, Prada have made extensive use of the medallion print in their collection – especially in their ties which feature the print in 70s-esque shades of brown, orange and mustard yellow. Hermes have followed a similar pattern in their ties too, although they have opted for more muted pastel shades and have left the ends of the ties raw to add a textured, frayed effect.
Camouflage is another trend which has seen a surprising surge in popularity recently. I often find that camo print is something avoided by the sartorially savvy as they feel it is common and can appear scruffy rather than stylish. Fellow FashionBeans writer Alex Woodhall recently covered the camouflage print trend, so I won’t bang on too much about this – but one thing I will say is that I totally agree that it’s time to give camo another chance.
The military trend is one that is ever-present in nearly every season of menswear, and camouflage goes hand-in-hand with military influences. Designers who agree and have also decided to give camouflage print it’s day of glory include Dsquared2, with their interestingly coloured camo print hooded parkas.
However, perhaps the biggest proponent for the camouflage print trend has been Tommy Hilfiger, with camo patterning appearing on a wide range of items of clothing, from blazers, coats, hoodies and shorts, down to desert boots and loafers. The camouflage print also works fantastically well with their ad campaign for SS12, which has a real safari feel and was shot in the great outdoors featuring tents, jeeps and themes of camping under the stars.
One of the patterns that I feel is underused in menswear is the polka dot. The cousin of the polka dot, the stripe, is used prolifically, both horizontally and vertically, in menswear collections every season – but SS12 seems to be the time for the polka dot to shine.
Many men may think that polka dots can be garish and OTT, and of course there is always this risk depending on the colours and size of the spots used. No man wants to look like the love child of Minnie Mouse and Spotty from SuperTed. The key to channelling polka dots successfully is to ensure the dots are small and the colours not too bright, or you risk entering clown/court jester territory.
Topman Design currently have an interesting navy and white polka dot denim jacket available, which adds an inspired twist on the traditional denim jacket, whilst in a recent publication of Another Man magazine, a polka dot Louis Vuitton shirt was featured that almost looked as if the pattern had been finger painted on, creating an interesting, raw effect.
Polka dots also work excellently on accessories; in the recent ad campaign for Ralph Lauren, silk polka dot ties and pocket squares were featured for a sophisticated dandy-esque look.
We all know by now that prints and patterns are going to dominate menswear for the spring/summer season, and based on the recent AW12 shows, the rest of the year. However, finding the type of print or pattern that matches your personality and existing wardrobe can be tricky. Luckily, there is so much variation and choice this year, you should be able to find something that complements your personal style. Whether you want the youthful, edginess of camo, or something more sophisticated, such as polka dots, the designers and high street have you covered.
So what do you think?
Let us know in the comments below, and check back tomorrow for the 4 other key prints you should be considering this season.
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