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Uncovering the Evolution of Print

Uncovering the Evolution of Print
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When it comes to fashion, we’ve all heard the saying “one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out” – thank you, Heidi Klum a la Project Runway. With a widespread (albeit changing) mentality that clothing is disposable, it seems as though trends truly come and go.

But, that’s not necessarily the case and what’s really happening here is an evolution. This process is ever changing thanks to outside factors (looking at you, COVID), social media virality, and practicality – just to name a few.

To put this into concrete terms, we can check in on the evolution of prints over the course of recent seasons.

Leopard → Tiger & Zebra

One of the most notable trends in print over recent seasons has certainly been the reintroduction of animal print. Although always a classic, leopard print sparked this resurgence back in Q3 of 2018, according to our global data set, with a 51% introduction rate when we quite literally saw this spotted style all over the runways, streets and ‘Gram alike.

Over time, this print has ebbed and flowed as it is classically seasonal, but within the last year, interest in other animals has picked up, specifically tiger and zebra. On the Fall 2021 runways, we saw this at ultra-cool brand R13, cult classic Louis Vuitton, and the always chic Rochas. Already, product introduction has started to spike in these prints across categories with tiger and zebra at 34% and 32%, respectively, in Q4 2020.


Traditional Plaid → Colored Checks

Another undeniable classic that’s gotten a facelift is plaid. Typically seen in outerwear, plaid has evolved from a tried-and-true outerwear print, to making its way onto RTW pieces like dresses and skirts, to evolving into more simplistic and forward-thinking checks. These checks are showing up in neutrals as well as punchy shades for a fun twist on the look. Keep an eye on trendsetting labels like Giambattista Valli, Jil Sander and Private Policy to see where they’re taking this print. Over the past year, it has steadily been on the incline and reached 24% of introduced womenswear product in Q4 of 2020.


Fashion Illustrations → Abstract Art

Fashion illustrations were a whimsically feminine trend we’d frequently see on branded tees and dresses at labels like Karl Lagerfeld while we simultaneously saw kitschy graphics at Coach and Comme des Garcons. Now, designers have taken a more abstract approach when it comes to artful elements. On the Fall 2021 runways, we’ve spotted crafted sketches and graphics that look like they may as well be hanging on the walls of The Met at Roksanda, Schiparelli and Vivienne Westwood. We can see this illustrated in the data through a spike in introduced tops in abstract graphic prints (37% of introduced product in Q1 of 2021).


Tie Dye → Dye Effects

We first saw tie-dye make a comeback in 2019 when it was splashed all over the runways in its true rainbow form and peaked at a 48% product introduction rate in Q1 2019. Now, we’re seeing tie-dye show up as a “dye effect” per sé as it’s no longer a multicolor spiral but a minimalistic dye treatment, appearing as dip dye, stripes, monochromatic effect or interesting wash. Keep an eye on trendsetters like Proenza Schouler, Altuzarra and Etro who have been key players in the resurgence of this nostalgic print.


All in all, the cycle of fashion is ever-changing, and thanks to a keen eye and StyleSage data, we can stay on top of the key evolutionary details. If you're a subscriber, keep up-to-date through our weekly trend reports.

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