A quick flash of safari-based graphic print is enough to bring tears of joy to the likes of fashion advertisers; a concept at pun central. Boohoo, Nasty Gal, and retailers alike have all jumped aboard the bandwagon and lit up our screens with catchy phrases like ‘Walk On The Wild Side’; designed to entice us by providing an image of the perfect exotic break, taking us far away from the dull UK weather we endure day-in day-out.
People have traded in their neutrals for eye-catching, statement designs. The majority now having left behind the stereotype that animal print reads tacky, this rebrand is emblematic of the modern woman: a reminder that we all have a leopard waiting to pounce somewhere inside.
Whatever your opinions on this invasion of fashion zoology, animal print has certainly been at the forefront of many a designer’s mind. Tom Ford and Victoria Beckham have paid particularly articulate homage, exhibiting a snake-skin suit, and leopard-print longlined coat respectively.
However, animal prints are not the only product that has seen an impact upon catwalks; leather has also been redefined. Gone are the days of leather being synonymous to stereotypical bikers with their ripped jeans and unbrushed hair. Now, leather is tailored with subtle detailing to produce a sophisticated, modern aesthetic. Fashion labels such as MiuMiu and Huishan Zhang did not disappoint with their takes on the matter, encompassing leather with prominence.
Such trends though are fleeting, and by the next season prints and leather will be replaced by new ideas, such is the way with fashion. Though there do appear to be crazes where longevity exists, shaping the fashion sphere and beyond. For some, fads are an experiment. For others, it’s a lifestyle.
Already we are half way through March, having months ago clobbered together unrealistic new year resolutions which we have more than likely already given up on. Our goals of heading to the gym and drinking less have been substituted for hibernating from the cold and dreaming about that perfect summer bod instead of earning it. But not all hope is lost.
Veganuary saw 168,500 of us taking part, helping us ditch those naughty left-over Christmas choccies. According to Plant Based News, veganism is set to emerge throughout the fashion and beauty industry in a much bigger way. Though, perhaps it is important for us to question whether it is right for animal welfare movements to be considered a ‘trend’, as this may put them at risk of being deemed as trivial, seeing cruelty-free activism coming and going just as fads do. Whilst infusing animal print in fashion could be seen as a tribute to our furry friends, the presence of leather begs to differ. Ethical fashion seems to have taken a break, whilst onlooking vegan and animal rights activists have continued to campaign.
Supporters of animal welfare have called for major changes in attitudes of clothing brands over the years, with riots against Canada Goose being some of the most profound. Mohair has also been criticised. According to The Guardian ‘high street retailers from Zara and H&M to Topshop and Gap are making a stand: the evidence was so damning, they have pledged to ban the fabric from their products’. Progress though has been slow though and it is only recently that fur finally left the runway completely with Gucci being one of the last fashion houses to ditch it, but this is not the same story with other products like leather and wool; only a handful of designers are completely cruelty free, the most famous being Stella McCartney.
Even with being vegetarian and striving to make an effort to use cruelty-free products, I have never managed to make that step to Veganism. Primarily because I remain unconvinced that animal alternatives are beneficial for the environment. The plastic crisis is debatably much greater than our current animal welfare issue, and steps have been taken in attempt to find other, more sustainable materials. However, their use is not yet widespread and for the most part, Veganism appears to in fact encourage long-term unsustainable production processes.
Not enough people are aware of the serious environmental implications these cruelty-free alternates have, and looking ahead we must find viable and accessible substitutions; substitutions that look and give the same effect as leather, minus the negative consequences. It is impossible to guess the future, and whilst there is much work left to do, I wait keenly to see what will unfold.