Statement Trousers

It’s no exaggeration to say colour and print has dominated every aspect of menswear over recent seasons – and spring/summer 2014 is no exception.

We’ve seen patterns such as checks, stripes and florals applied to everything from shirts and tees to blazers and accessories, with the modern gent now much more open to donning a bold statement piece that marks him out from the crowd.

This season designers are looking to push the concept of prints one step further, applying a wide range of motifs to trousers. Undoubtedly, this is a trend for brave and confident men – so are you ready to step outside your comfort zone? The pay-off could potentially be huge…

On The Runways

Printed trousers were prominent across all global fashion weeks, coming in a number of guises.

Marrying statement legwear with SS14’s hottest print, florals, Ami and Tom Ford favoured bright, tropical-inspired motifs in vivid shades of green, yellow, red, blue and purple.

Showing exactly how the everyday male should approach this daring aesthetic, both designers anchored their legwear with muted, monotone garments in order to let the trousers – and, in Ami’s case, shorts – take centre stage:

Ami SS14 Tom Ford SS14

Collections by Valentino and Gucci went down a slightly edgier floral route, with both brands electing to use a palette of grey, silver and black for an altogether more Gothic feel.

These muted tones ensured the patterns were subtler, which is likely to appeal to a wider audience:

Valentino SS14 Gucci SS14

Multiple forms of animal print were popular within designer collections, with Michael Bastian featuring leopard print trousers in shades of grey/blue and dusky pink/red, while Saint Laurent included a black and white zebra print pair.

Other common motifs included bold oversized check patterns from Vivienne Westwood and Comme Des Garçons, and statement stripes from Ami. Vivienne Westwood also featured an interesting pair of tailored trousers with grey and orange vertical stripe detailing, which were extremely wearable and would make a superb addition to any smart-casual wardrobe.

Elsewhere, camouflage print shows no sign of relenting, with Ami applying a traditional brown and green version to a pair of slim-cut trousers, while Valentino offered a more contemporary navy and purple take.

Valentino followed this up by applying an interesting oriental-style motif – complete with subtle scenes of trees and wildlife in red and blue – to a pair of beige trousers.

Last but not least, we have to mention the bizarre print that Michael Bastian opened his show with – the designer applied an all-over pineapple motif to a striking pair of white trousers. Insanely fruity, they epitomised the summer season by adding a sense of fun and frolic to the collection:

Valentino SS14 Vivienne Westwood SS14 Vivienne Westwood SS14 Michael Bastian SS14 Saint Laurent SS14 Ami SS14 Ami SS14

Fashion Press Reaction

Although the application of prints to trousers has been highly publicised by the fashion press, it’s fair to say that this is a trend that will most likely be approached with much trepidation.

As long ago as May 2012, when prints first started to infiltrate contemporary menswear, The Guardian ran an article simply titled ‘Are British Men Ready To Wear Prints?’. The general consensus was that prints and patterns were likely to be quite a hard sell to the everyday male and would take a few seasons to really make their mark – yet all contributors agreed that modern men were certainly more willing to “have fun with fashion” than ever before.

Several seasons later and they have been proven right, with patterns and prints now a firm fixture within the majority of contemporary wardrobes. Not only that, in the quest for individuality, the modern style-conscious gent seems to be more confident, comfortable and – most importantly – capable of pulling off bold statement pieces such as printed trousers or blazers.

Reinforcing this viewpoint, back in February 2013, Jeremy Langmead predicted in his Esquire style column that printed trousers would become a major trend for SS14 – rightly pointing out that men these days are much more fashion forward and experimental.

Elsewhere, Details recently published a detailed analysis of Michael Bastian’s SS14 collection, highlighting the underlying French influence that led to the inclusion of leopard print, balloon motifs and that now infamous, pineapple pattern.

Bastian is even quoted as saying: “This season I wanted to do something more colourful, more joyous – play around a bit more with pattern mixing and unexpected styling, in a loose, easier, sexy way that typifies, to me, the best of French men’s style.”

His collection certainly didn’t disappoint in terms of colour and vivacity. Although the fruity, almost comical nature of some of the prints may not appeal to the majority, it’s just another example of a designer pushing the boundaries of contemporary menswear, which can only be applauded.

Modern Lookbook Inspiration

scapa ss14 zara man spring 2013 scotch & soda ss14 banana republic aw13 ti for men ss14 scotch & soda aw13 amsterdams blauw gant rugger ss13 bal aw13 gant pre spring 2014 paul & joe ss13 urban outfitters ami ss14

Key Pieces
  • Dockers Alpha Khaki Chinos Skinny Fit Paisley Print
  • Topman Black And White Printed Ultra Skinny Trousers
  • Carhartt Sid Pant Skinny Fit Camo Print
  • Topman Blue Camouflage Skinny Trousers
  • Topman Vito Paisley Trousers
  • Topman Black/white Checked Skinny Fit Trousers
  • Ami Mens Black Green Printed Chino Trousers
  • Jigsaw Hawaiian Flower Print Trousers
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Printed Garment-dyed Chinos
  • Incotex Slim-fit Printed Washed-cotton Trousers
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Check Linen Chinos
  • Edwin Jeans Blue 55 All-over Printed Chambray Chinos
  • Hentsch Man Tapered Printed Cotton-canvas Trousers
  • Valentino Slim-fit Cotton And Silk-blend Trousers
  • Rake Check-print Tailored Trousers 189120
Final Word

Without question, the printed trouser trend is one which will divide opinion – as most adventurous trends tend to do – but the fact that it was so prevalent across all major SS14 collections means that designers definitely think there is a market out there for them.

The high street seems to agree, as the wealth of printed trousers currently available on the market, combined with their prominence in SS14 brand lookbooks/campaigns, proves.

FashionBeans will shortly be publishing a follow-up ‘how to wear’ printed legwear guide but, as always, the key to pulling off any bold piece is to anchor the statement garment with more restrained, neutral staples. In this case, linen blazers, Oxford shirts, monochrome polos, denim jackets and the like would make the ideal partners.

So, what do you think? Are any of you brave enough to add a printed trouser to your warm-weather wardrobe this year, or is this a trend that you can NEVER see yourself entertaining?

We welcome your thoughts and musings below…