Introduction

The reach of print and pattern is seemingly endless. Designer collections have been inundated with them for a number of seasons now and they’ve been rapidly applied to everything from shirting and footwear to tailoring.

It comes as no surprise that this trend has reached t-shirts – although not in the more generic form of slogan-laden and graphic tees that are available year in, year out. This year’s offering is supported by vibrant, all-over prints ready to pep up your off-duty ensembles.

From floral to animal, menswear’s bold turn continues as print looks to supersede plain and simple in the t-shirt department. Today we tackle the current top five t-shirt prints you should be considering for your wardrobe for the remainder of 2013 and the transition into 2014…

1. Animal Print

We kick things off with one of the most daring prints to infiltrate collections this year: animal. Much like floral, animal print has long remained the domain of our female counterparts, yet more and more men are beginning to embrace their inner wild side.

Leopard has become the frontrunner within primal prints and it is available in a number of variations – from traditional skin to contemporary takes featuring alternate palettes. The other beast that has made its presence known is the zebra. Its monochromatic colour scheme makes it slightly less conspicuous and thus the easier of the two to get to grips with.

Make no mistake though, whichever animal you decide to sink your teeth into, confidence is key to pulling off the look. These prints are eye-catching at the best of times and a full print tee is a rather unrelenting statement; it will turn heads without fail.

If going full animal isn’t your thing, integrating it via detailing is a much easier way to build up your confidence. Printed detailing has been applied to sleeve roll-ups and contrasting pockets, sleeves and panels – it is up to you to find just the right amount of statement for your wardrobe and personal style.

As always, be wary when mixing prints and patterns, especially ones with such bold intent. A leopard print tee would look great in an all black ensemble, channelling your inner rockabilly, so try combining one with your staple black jeans and leather jacket for an edgier look. Juxtaposing it with camouflage trousers or floral shorts, however, just isn’t going to work.

  • Worland Leopard Pocket TeeWorland Leopard Pocket Tee
  • Asos T-shirt With Leopard Print Roll SleeveAsos T-shirt With Leopard Print Roll Sleeve
  • Native Youth Leopard Print Pocket T-shirtNative Youth Leopard Print Pocket T-shirt
  • Topman White Hem Leopard T-shirtTopman White Hem Leopard T-shirt
  • River Island Grey Zebra Print Crew Neck T-shirtRiver Island Grey Zebra Print Crew Neck T-shirt
  • Burberry Prorsum Animal-print T-shirt 163198Burberry Prorsum Animal-print T-shirt 163198
  • Pro Green X Puma T-shirt Honey B Leopard PrintPro Green X Puma T-shirt Honey B Leopard Print
  • Topman Grey Denim Wash Leopard High Roll T-shirtTopman Grey Denim Wash Leopard High Roll T-shirt
  • Acne Animal-print Cotton-jersey T-shirtAcne Animal-print Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • River Island Pink Leopard Print T-shirtRiver Island Pink Leopard Print T-shirt
  • Burberry Prorsum Giraffe-print Cotton-jersey T-shirtBurberry Prorsum Giraffe-print Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Acne Men’s Fine Print T-shirtAcne Men’s Fine Print T-shirt
Mini Trend: Animal Motifs

On the subject of animal, it’s not just prints that have been advocated by the industry, but motifs as well. Everything from lobsters to lions has made the cut. The origins of this mini trend can be traced back to the now iconic Givenchy ‘Rottweiler’ t-shirt – which has been spotted on the likes of Kanye West, Usher and Professor Green – with knock-offs variations now trickling down to the high street:

Kanye West, Usher & Professor Green In Givenchy's Rottweiler T-ShirtKanye West, Usher & Professor Green Have All Been Spotted In Givenchy’s Rottweiler T-Shirt

The range of styles encapsulates everything from statement baroque pieces to more subtle motifs set against plain, neutral backdrops. Whichever direction you take, it will help inject a focal point into any look, especially if worn simply with a pair of shorts or trousers.

They work exceptionally well under a plain bomber or leather jacket for a rough and ready streetwear-inspired ensemble:

  • River Island Ecru Baroque Leopard Print T-shirtRiver Island Ecru Baroque Leopard Print T-shirt
  • River Island Ecru Mirrored Lion Print T-shirtRiver Island Ecru Mirrored Lion Print T-shirt
  • Givenchy Doberman-print Cotton-jersey T-shirtGivenchy Doberman-print Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Topman Criminal Damage Rottweiler T-shirt Topman Criminal Damage Rottweiler T-shirt
  • Katie Eary Lobster-print Cotton-jersey T-shirtKatie Eary Lobster-print Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Topman Black Bear Head Print T-shirtTopman Black Bear Head Print T-shirt
  • Soulland Owl T-shirtSoulland Owl T-shirt
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Space Bear T-shirtMarc By Marc Jacobs Space Bear T-shirt
  • Supremebeing Lobo Lunar TeeSupremebeing Lobo Lunar Tee
2. Nautical-Inspired
Nautical Motifs

Give an almighty nod to nautical this season with these maritime-inspired prints. As a trend, nautical refuses to die down, and like military it enjoys peaks in popularity but will always have a place in our wardrobes due to its influence on many menswear staples.

This more literal interpretation is fronted by graphic motifs, especially anchors, which have been applied to tees, shorts, jewellery and knitwear – proving it is one trend that can be worn all year round.

Anchor and general maritime prints are extremely versatile and work well in any casual ensemble. They don’t make the statement that animal print does nor are they as fresh as floral but they are incredibly easy to wear. Requiring very little thought, they will inject a touch of detailing and character into any outfit.

These prints are also very easily dressed up, especially when Riviera favourites are incorporated – think navy blazers and slim white trousers.

  • Topman Abandon Ship Anchor T-shirt Topman Abandon Ship Anchor T-shirt
  • River Island Grey Friend Or Faux Pirate Radio T-shirtRiver Island Grey Friend Or Faux Pirate Radio T-shirt
  • Asos T-shirt With All Over Nautical Print And Roll SleeveAsos T-shirt With All Over Nautical Print And Roll Sleeve
  • Asos T-shirt With All Over Nautical PrintAsos T-shirt With All Over Nautical Print
  • Selected Homme Anchor – Basic T-shirt – BlueSelected Homme Anchor - Basic T-shirt - Blue
  • Asos T-shirt With Anchor Print PocketAsos T-shirt With Anchor Print Pocket
  • He By Mango Ship Print T-shirtHe By Mango Ship Print T-shirt
  • Moncler Maglia Hand-painted Anchor T-shirtMoncler Maglia Hand-painted Anchor T-shirt
  • London Collections. Men J.w.anderson Flocked Cotton-jersey T-shirtLondon Collections. Men J.w.anderson Flocked Cotton-jersey T-shirt
Stripes

Sticking with the nautical theme, stripes have been big news within the industry this year. Of course, a classic Breton tee will never go out of style, but for SS13 stripes dominated collections in every manner possible. With the nautical influence remaining as popular as ever, stripes continue to be an integral part of this aesthetic.

When it comes to printed tees, horizontal remains top of the pile – although size and colour aren’t so entrenched. Standard Breton and navy/white stripe versions are no longer your only option, though they do possess a genuine timelessness so shouldn’t be disregarded all together.

Big and bold variants are worth looking into for those that want to stand out from the crowd. Alternatively, muted stripes that step away from the traditional navy/white palette are great for giving your casual looks a subtle, understated spin.

Stripes are a print that can be easily styled up, especially when applied to a t-shirt. Dressing up tie-dye is sartorial suicide whilst floral and animal prints present a much more complicated style conundrum. However, stripes work flawlessly with a blazer, especially when the nautical influence is prevalent.

Their versatility should not be underestimated and, ultimately, it makes them a great option for those who adhere to the capsule wardrobe concept.

  • River Island Navy And White Striped T-shirtRiver Island Navy And White Striped T-shirt
  • Topman Green Stripe Crew Neck T-shirtTopman Green Stripe Crew Neck T-shirt
  • He By Mango Striped Slub-cotton T-shirtHe By Mango Striped Slub-cotton T-shirt
  • Shore Leave Burgundy Mock Stripe TeeShore Leave Burgundy Mock Stripe Tee
  • American Apparel Pinstripe Jersey Short Sleeve T-shirtAmerican Apparel Pinstripe Jersey Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Asos Stripe T-shirt With Cut And Sew PanelsAsos Stripe T-shirt With Cut And Sew Panels
  • Burberry Brit Striped Cotton-jersey T-shirtBurberry Brit Striped Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • J.crew Striped Slub Cotton-jersey T-shirtJ.crew Striped Slub Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • J.crew Austin Striped Cotton-jersey T-shirtJ.crew Austin Striped Cotton-jersey T-shirt
3. City/Place Name References

Another print style that appears to be trending within both high-end and high street collections is that of city/place reference graphic tees. Between the usual NYC, London, Tokyo, Paris and Milan references that make the rounds due to their obvious fashion links are cities like Berlin, Amsterdam and Dublin as well as summer destinations such as Santa Cruz, Hawaii and Rio. The print has certainly enjoyed a geographical expansion for the SS13 season.

High fashion designs have a somewhat reserved feel, often featuring toned down illustrations/graphics or typography, which makes them great for adding some simple detailing to your off-duty looks and enables them to transition effortlessly through to autumn/winter.

On the other hand, the high street has, by and large, taken the opposite route – the majority of styles feature bolder graphics and photography that is designed to grab the attention. These are probably more suited to the spring/summer season, where colour reigns supreme, but both styles will add a point of interest to casual looks, especially artfully done jeans and tee ensembles.

  • Saturdays Surf Nyc Nyc Printed Cotton-jersey T-shirtSaturdays Surf Nyc Nyc Printed Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • A.p.c. Printed Cotton-jersey T-shirtA.p.c. Printed Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Kitsune Tee Ny Tokyo ParisKitsune Tee Ny Tokyo Paris
  • River Island White London Print T-shirtRiver Island White London Print T-shirt
  • River Island Blue Miami Sunset Print T-shirtRiver Island Blue Miami Sunset Print T-shirt
  • River Island Ecru Hawaiian Print Honolulu T-shirtRiver Island Ecru Hawaiian Print Honolulu T-shirt
  • Reclaimed Vintage East Coast Baseball T-shirtReclaimed Vintage East Coast Baseball T-shirt
  • Asos T-shirt With Oslo PrintAsos T-shirt With Oslo Print
  • Stussy T-shirt World TourStussy T-shirt World Tour
  • Topman Burgundy Burnout Nyc T-shirtTopman Burgundy Burnout Nyc T-shirt
  • Topman White Santa Cruz Crew Neck T-shirtTopman White Santa Cruz Crew Neck T-shirt
  • Burton White Tokyo Printed T-shirtBurton White Tokyo Printed T-shirt
4. Florals

The current industry obsession with floral print presents us with a new opportunity to push our style boundaries and stand out from the crowd. They are incredibly popular with the team here at FashionBeans as the majority of men still shy away from them – even though Shane recently proved that there is a floral style for everyone this year.

Banishing all thoughts of gaudy shirts circa 1980 and approaching them with an open mind is imperative. Thankfully a floral tee isn’t as loud as, say, a pair of trousers or a full suit in the print and with the t-shirt being such a casual piece their boldness is immediately toned down slightly.

The eye-catching nature of floral print can be neutralised further by utilising your tee as an under layer with lightweight knitwear or a jacket worn over the top. That being said, a simple t-shirt and neutral jeans/shorts/chinos combination provides just the right amount of statement without becoming garish or over the top.

After all, ‘wacky’ slogans and uninspired graphics appear to be the go-to option for many sartorially challenged men, making your choice of floral a much more stylish statement among the sea of tees.

  • Worland Floral Tee In WhiteWorland Floral Tee In White
  • United Colors Of Benetton T-shirt With Floral PrintUnited Colors Of Benetton T-shirt With Floral Print
  • Asos T-shirt With Floral Skull Print In WhiteAsos T-shirt With Floral Skull Print In White
  • River Island Purple Floral Print T-shirtRiver Island Purple Floral Print T-shirt
  • Topman Serge Denimes Floral Print T-shirt Topman Serge Denimes Floral Print T-shirt
  • River Island Yellow Ones Supply Co. Floral Print T-shirtRiver Island Yellow Ones Supply Co. Floral Print T-shirt
  • Asos T-shirt With All Over Floral Print And Roll SleeveAsos T-shirt With All Over Floral Print And Roll Sleeve
  • Topman Black Floral Print T-shirtTopman Black Floral Print T-shirt
  • Raf Simons Flower-print Cotton T-shirtRaf Simons Flower-print Cotton T-shirt
  • Raf Simons Flower-print Cotton T-shirtRaf Simons Flower-print Cotton T-shirt
  • Mcq Alexander Mcqueen Floral And Chequer Board-print T-shirt 167018Mcq Alexander Mcqueen Floral And Chequer Board-print T-shirt 167018
  • Katie Eary Flower-print Cotton-jersey T-shirtKatie Eary Flower-print Cotton-jersey T-shirt
5. Tie-Dye

First the 1980s and now the 1990s – floral isn’t the only pattern to come full circle: tie-dye is once again doing the fashion rounds. Will Colman’s recent article on the print is a definitive one-stop shop on the style, including a guide on doing it yourself – ideal for introducing a completely unique statement piece into your wardrobe.

Tie-dye is an incredibly bold print, so it’s always going to make a statement. Unlike floral it can be difficult to subdue, unless of course you’ve gone for a subtle tonal dip-dye or ombre variation. With tie-dye’s natural ability to overwhelm it’s certainly best to keep everything else plain and simple; start introducing more patterns and you’re on the road to faux pas.

When it comes to summer style, nothing shouts relaxed and casual quite like a tie-dye tee or vest. Think 1960s, summer festivals and laid-back style and you’ve got it. Start trying to force it into a look that is predominantly smart-casual or dressed up and you’ve failed before you’ve begun. No notion of formality and structure here, please.

  • Asos T-shirt With Dip DyeAsos T-shirt With Dip Dye
  • Reclaimed Vintage T-shirt With Tie-dye PrintReclaimed Vintage T-shirt With Tie-dye Print
  • Indigo & Maine Spray TeeIndigo & Maine Spray Tee
  • Print T-shirtPrint T-shirt
  • Worland Spiral Tie-dye Tee In BlueWorland Spiral Tie-dye Tee In Blue
  • Levis Made & Crafted Mens Tie Dye Bay T-shirtLevis Made & Crafted Mens Tie Dye Bay T-shirt
  • Topman Pastel Tiedye T-shirtTopman Pastel Tiedye T-shirt
  • Topman Red Tie Dye Hi Roll T-shirtTopman Red Tie Dye Hi Roll T-shirt
  • The Elder Statesman Hand-dyed Cashmere And Linen-blend T-shirtThe Elder Statesman Hand-dyed Cashmere And Linen-blend T-shirt
  • River Island Blue Diagonal Dip Dye T-shirtRiver Island Blue Diagonal Dip Dye T-shirt
  • Raf Simons Bleed-dye Sweat Top 164822Raf Simons Bleed-dye Sweat Top 164822
  • Jonathan Saunders Ombré Print T-shirt 164430Jonathan Saunders Ombré Print T-shirt 164430
Printed T-Shirt Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Printed T-Shirt Lookbook

minimum summer 2013minimum express 2012Woolrich John Rich & Bros ss14pull & bear ss13topman denim 2013asos ss13scotch & soda ss13river island ss13river island ss12h&m spring 2013minimum express 2012h&m x gq 2013
Final Word

The printed tee certainly isn’t a new wardrobe concept. However, recent iterations have, in most cases, offered a bolder approach and a move away from your standard graphic prints.

These new variations signal an opportunity to reintroduce the print tee into your casual attire and be more creative with it, instead of playing it safe with the typically recycled Gothic prints we see each year.

But now we want to hear your view:

  • Which of the five prints do you like best?
  • What are your thoughts on animal prints? Can leopard work for guys?
  • Similarly, what do you make of florals?
  • Does tie-dye belong back in the 1990s?
  • Or does nothing beat your trusty white tee?

Let us know in the comments section below…