Prints & Patterns Round-Up
It’s not breaking news that for the past few seasons prints and patterns have dominated menswear. And whether or not you’re a fan of this new bold direction, there’s no escaping their influence on current SS14 collections.
Offering an easy way for men to differentiate their traditionally stripped-back summer looks from one another while simultaneously adding a touch of personality to an outfit, the right print will have a positive effect on your warm-weather wardrobe.
We here at FashionBeans felt it would be useful to provide you with a brief round-up of the key motifs that are trending this season (with an eye on SS15), so you know exactly what key pieces to add to your wardrobe in the current summer sales.
A timeless pattern that will always have a place in menswear, checks have been predominantly applied to formal wear for SS14. Adding a new and refreshing dimension to your timeless block-colour suiting, a subtle Prince of Wales or windowpane check will make you stand out for all the right reasons.
It’s a trend that’s particularly apt for those men who work in corporate environments and want to add a bit of variety to their often uninspiring and monotonous tailoring collection.
Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton showed just how polished and professional check tailoring can look in their SS14 collections, sending check suits in traditional blues, greys and whites down the runway. Bottega Veneta went on to include checked trousers worn as separates, shifting the focus to the lower half of the body in a move that referenced SS14’s printed legwear trend.
Louis Vuitton took a slightly more adventurous approach by including brighter madras-style check suits in shades of blue, black and white. It was an ambitious move to apply such a natty print from head to toe, but the aesthetic managed to retain a sense of wearability:
Elsewhere, Issey Miyake were out to create a statement, applying large black-bordered checks in shades of blue, red and white to oversized band-collared tunic tops and shorts. The same brash pattern was later used on a two-piece suit and matching baseball cap:
Going against the grain, Kenzo produced a casual collection that included a black and white grid applied to a bright red sweatshirt and loose shorts for a sports luxe feel.
Taking the concept one step further, the brand went on to feature check patterns that incorporated additional motifs within each square – for example, a black check with the grey crest of a wave image. This created quite a complicated, busy look yet demonstrated pattern mixing within a single garment:
A wide variety of checks were again prominent at the recent SS15 fashion weeks, with key collections coming from Brioni, Alfred Dunhill and Emporio Armani.
Brioni applied them to a superb collection of cropped summer bombers and Harringtons; Dunhill went the traditional route with checked tailoring and overcoats; and Armani used them on various forms of outerwear as well as a selection of Cuban-collared short-sleeved shirts:
Although checks can be found across all items (see below) this season, key pieces to keep your eye out for include checked outerwear (particularly cropped styles), tailoring and trousers.
All are perfect for making a refined and effortless statement:
- Topman White And Black Check Shirt
- Topman Red Check Skater T-shirt
- Topman Blue Checked Skinny Suit
- He By Mango Check Print Scarf
- Selected Suit Trousers In Check
- He By Mango Check Silk-blend Tie
- J.crew Regular-fit Check Cotton Oxford Shirt
- River Island Dark Blue Tartan Blazer
- Reiss Perry Grey Check Shorts Light Grey
- He By Mango Slim-fit Gingham Check Linen-blend Shirt
- Gant Rugger Slim-fit Madras Plaid Brushed-cotton Shirt
- River Island Blue Check Slim Suit Jacket
As FashionBeans reported earlier in the year, polka dots are making their presence felt this season with good representation across both designer and high street collections.
Traditionally, circles and dots are applied to accent pieces, with spotty pocket squares and scarves a particular highlight of the Ermenegildo Zegna SS14 showcase:
But in recent seasons this subtle and timeless approach has given way to the rise of the statement dot and all-over micro-prints.
Hermès were a strong advocate of micro-dot patterns for SS14, with the fashion house choosing to apply them to wide-legged trousers, sports jackets and blazers, demonstrating the versatility of the print.
The majority of the looks came in one of SS14’s go-to shades, blue, while warm terracotta tones emphasised a summer vibe:
In addition to their polka dot scarves and cravats, Ermenegildo Zegna’s collection saw medallion-style prints applied to shirts, which were paired with relaxed-fit suiting for a 1970s feel.
A similar retro approach was adopted at Saint Laurent, where polka dots were carried on open-collared shirts in shades of burnt orange, charcoal grey, jet black and vivid red. Saint Laurent went on to feature a black leather jacket with all-over metallic studs that created a similar effect, epitomising Hedi Slimane’s signature rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic:
Statement dots were all the rage within SS15 collections, with Dolce & Gabbana, Kenzo, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani all applying large spots to formal garments such as suiting, blazers and shirting.
This oversized take on the print is a natural development and looks set to become a major trend next year:
Polka dots will always look classic and refined when applied as micro-dot prints to accessories and shirting. However, as proven at the SS15 fashion weeks, now is the time to keep your eye out for larger, more eye-catching circle motifs:
- Allsaints Farsta Shirt
- Asos Polo With Polka Dot Print
- Asos Slim Fit Smart Cropped Trousers In Polka Dot
- Herschel Settlement Backpack In Polka Dot
- He By Mango Polka-dot Silk Pocket Square
- Topman Navy Spot Skinny Trousers
- Saturdays Surf Nyc Polka-dot Print Cotton Shirt
- River Island Grey Bellfield Mixed Polka Dot T-shirt
- River Island Dark Grey Polka Dot Jumper
- Asos Smart Scarf With Polka Dot
- Saturdays Surf Nyc Mid-length Printed Swim Shorts
- He By Mango 2 Pack Polka-dot Socks
One trend that is almost always exclusively reserved for womenswear is animal print, but over the past couple of seasons menswear designers have been embracing their wild side and including a range of wildlife-inspired patterns in their collections.
The animal print of choice this year? It has to be snakeskin, which goes hand-in-hand with the leather trend that (premium) designers have been trying to push for SS14.
Brands as varied as YMC, Saint Laurent and Trussardi all made use of snakeskin patterns for SS14, applying them to a wide range of garments including blazers, shorts, shirts and trousers – typically in conventional shades of brown, green and khaki.
Elsewhere, Richard Nicoll incorporated snakeskin within his showcase in bright shades of blue, creating an interesting colour dynamic. Likewise, the collection by Sibling followed a similar route, incorporating leopard prints in a variety of blue tones. The ambitious pattern was applied to shorts, hooded sweatshirts, sweatpants and sleeveless shirts for a relaxed and sporty aesthetic:
Finally, Saint Laurent’s dark and edgy collection featured extremely ambitious animal prints, including a cropped leopard print blazer in yellow and black shades, and a daring pair of black and white zebra print skinny trousers paired with hot pink boots:
Clearly the use of animal print, and particularly exotic skins, in the industry remains a controversial issue and it’s certainly not something that will appeal to all men – but the fact that some of these motifs have made it as far as the high street suggests that there’s a niche market for it.
Animal prints were slightly rarer within the SS15 collections, although there were a couple of high profile proponents: Roberto Cavalli and a certain Mr Tom Ford.
Cavalli applied snakeskin in classic earth tones to trousers and shirts, with the overall aesthetic surprisingly masculine and rugged. Ford, on the other hand, utilised leopard and tiger prints on tailored swim shorts and a striking cobalt blue blazer:
If you’re unsure about animal print, or it’s your dipping your toes into the trend, try sticking to easy to wear pieces such as accessories or t-shirts. A leopard print tee paired with classic black jeans creates an edgy rock ‘n’ roll-inspired aesthetic that oozes rockabilly cool. Combine with a high pompadour and you’re good to go.
Alternatively, bombers or sweatshirts with contrast animal print sleeves help contain the pattern to your arms and therefore reduce its impact slightly:
- Selected Vest With Leopard Print
- Asos T-shirt With Leopard Print And Long Length Skater Fit
- Topman Green Short Sleeve Leopard Print Smart Shirt
- Topman Iuter Jaques Snake Sweatshirt
- Paul Smith Jeans Bomber Jacket In Animal Print
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer In Leopard Design
- Saint Laurent Zebra-pattern Cotton-jersey T-shirt
- Alexander Mcqueen Skull And Snake Skin-print Silk Scarf
- Cayler & Sons Leopard Print Uptown Backpack In Black
- Saint Laurent Baby Cat-print Sneakers
- Anthony Miles Hearn Snake Derby Shoes
- River Island Black Leopard Print Panel Plimsolls
Geometric prints are interesting as the success of these often depends on the size and format of the pattern. Anything deemed as too busy or overly-complicated is unlikely to have widespread appeal.
For example, in his SS14 collection, Raf Simons applied a black and white triangular print to a cropped bomber jacket, and a green and white criss-cross pattern to an oversized sleeveless t-shirt, complete with a logo emblazoned across the chest. These prints worked well because although vivid, they are not too busy.
Similarly, Paul Smith incorporated small-scale geometric patterns onto warm-weather staples such as short-sleeved shirts and shorts, which were often anchored with muted garments. These are the type of pieces that would slot seamlessly into any summer wardrobe.
Marc Jacobs was another designer that favoured geometric prints within his 1970s-inspired collection, choosing to use them on jumpers and cardigans in both monochrome and striking multi-coloured palettes. These pieces were combined with slim-cut trousers in neutral colour ways to really allow the knitwear to take centre stage:
At the ‘unwearable’ end of the spectrum, Givenchy incorporated wild geometric prints within nearly all of their SS14 looks. Many of these were digitally-influenced, with the patterns applied to a wide variety of garments and worn all over the body in shades of beige, red and blue.
The overall effect was extremely busy and in your face – we’re not even sure that splitting them into separates would help in this instance.
Likewise, Walter Van Beirendonck’s collection demonstrated pattern mixing to the extreme, with multiple prints often applied to a single garment. For example, one blazer contained a graphic horse motif combined with a repetitive moth print and a second blue block-panel complete with a diagonal striped pattern, which subsequently continued along the length of the trousers.
Unfortunately for Van Beirendonck, this mish-mash of patterns really is too much and pushed the clothing into the realm of costume. As always, less is more:
Geometrics were heavily favoured at the global SS15 fashion weeks, with everyone from A.P.C. and Boglioli to Louis Vuitton and Prada favouring repetitive motifs.
Set to become a major trend for 2015, the great thing about the patterns sent down the runways was that they were all extremely wearable. Whether applied to outerwear or shorts, these smaller scale, muted prints are sure to appeal to the everyday male:
There is a wealth of geometric prints currently available on the market, although subtle patterns in subdued shades are the most wearable and will offer increased longevity:
- Nudie Crew Knit Jumper Carion Intarsia
- Asos Polo With Geo Print
- Ted Baker Bywater Printed Short
- Balenciaga Printed Cotton-jersey T-shirt
- River Island White Geometric Print T-shirt
- Ps By Paul Smith Patterned Knitted Sweater
- Next Geo Riviera Swim Shorts
- River Island Brown Holloway Road Geometric Print Shirt
- Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Patterned Cotton-blend Socks
- Paul Smith Jeans Geometric Colour-block Jumper
- Canali Square-print Silk Pocket Square
- Jigsaw Linen Geometric Print Scarf
Undeniably, prints and pattern offer an easy way of injecting a sense of variety and excitement into your looks – and summer is the perfect time to become a bit more ambitious with your styling.
Some patterns will clearly have a wider appeal than others, but if you really want to stand out from the crowd then these days it’s important to consider all the options on offer to you.
Tomorrow we will bring you part two of our round-up, breaking down four more popular motifs that should be on your radar for 2014/15.
But what do you think – what was your favourite pattern showcased today and why? Are there prints that you would never try? Or does anything go?
As always, we welcome your thoughts and musings below…