Print Prowl: Animal patterns surpass market territory

by Shubhi Srivastava

01-April-2019  |  8 mins read

Animal prints

Animal prints and wildlife-inspired motifs have been a favourite among the major consumer groups, putting them on the radar of buyers and manufacturers alike. This affinity towards the wild side was evident on all platforms, right from the runways and the street style of fashion capitals, trickling down to the high fashion and mass retailers along with exporters and domestic manufacturers.

The recent Spring/Summer 2019 runways were packed with leopard prints as Burberry released its silky midi-skirts and Saint Laurent’s flaunted daring bodysuits while the snake print took centrestage with Off-White’s neon garments. As per Alexandra Van Houtte, Founder of Tagwalk, the most popular search engine for fashion, “Animal print is still a Spring/Summer 2019 trend. It has gone up by 50 per cent since S/S ’18, with leading brands such as Burberry, Gucci and Calvin Klein leading the way.”

Lynn Aldrich's fake fur and animal print swatches
Lynn Aldrich’s fake fur and animal print swatches

As per reports by Edited.com, animal prints constituted the major chunk of product sell-outs in the mass market of US and UK for Fall 2018, with promising numbers of 15 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. This deciphered to about 8 per cent of sell-outs in the Chinese market and 6 per cent in the Indian domestic market as well.

Being one of the most popular sourcing hubs for the industry, India boasts of manufacturers that are at par with these international trends as they efficiently gauge the market demands to translate them into products that the buyer picks up instantly. Team Apparel Resources interacted with such manufacturers dealing with animal motifs and patterns in several ways, with explorations in fabrics, techniques, prints and silhouettes.

Kamarvy handbags with animal print andtexture
Kamarvy handbags with animal print andtexture

An Evergreen Trend with Promising Future

Deeming print to be one of the top picks by buyers for the coming season, Anbhay Sadh of Nehklank Textiles said, “We might be a manufacturing unit, but to cater to the buyers from the Chinese, European and American markets at the best levels, we have a team of designers that successfully bring in international trends for us. For Spring/Summer 2020, the trends they captured included a strong inclination towards animal patterns in a big way as big retailers like Zara are doing well with them. We are currently selling big numbers when it comes to cheetah prints and zebra stripes in earthy tones.”

Animal prints on runways for Fall/Winter 2019
Animal prints on runways for Fall/Winter 2019

Raju Agarwal of Mangalam Exports had similar views as he stated, “Every buyer is different when it comes to prints- some go for skin prints, commonly known as animal prints, some go for florals while others opt for chain and scarf prints. The trends that have been consistent since the past several seasons are florals and animal prints, with the latter regaining its popularity rapidly for the coming seasons. We do all of these in polyesters and its blends.”

Multitude of Techniques, Fabrics and Value Additions

Manufacturers are also exploring different techniques other than printing in order to normalise the saturation of animal print garments. One such export house is Jimmy Mode International. Bhavna Singh, the Sr. Merchandiser for the company shed further light on the kind of variations they are providing now by asserting, “We have several prints that are in trend right now- animal prints, scarf prints and chain prints. We want to offer the consumer something new, which is why we juxtapose different prints together. For our Spring/Summer 2020 collection, we mixed animal prints with stripes and chain prints. We even offer the lively animal motifs through different techniques- we use sequins to highlight cheetah patterns, flock print over sheer fabrics for leopard prints and we also offer them in several unconventional fabrics such as Mesh jacquards and pleated fabrics. The buyers are responding well to the trend, despite of the fact that it was fading at the end of 2018.”

Cheetah patterns in sequins by Jimmy Mode International
Cheetah patterns in sequins by Jimmy Mode International

When it comes to value addition, India is known for its embroidery prowess. Arnav Poddar from Cheer Sagar talked about how they include these patterns in their embroidery-heavy offering. He averred,“We specialise in embroideries, coupled with embellishments. Yet we found a way to explore animal motifs through our prints’ collections as they are selling well with both kind of customers- the ones looking for summer clothing and the ones more inclined towards winterwear. We are majorly doing polyester blends for this print collection as they are performing the best- fabrics like American poly-crepes, poly-dobbys. For finer and dressier silhouettes such as occasionwear dresses, we are using variations of viscose as well. Other silhouettes that are doing well in these kind of prints are loungewear, dresses and tunics. We add embroidery to the mix to uplift these garments as well.”

Animal Motifs for Smaller Segments

On the accessories front, manufacturers are putting their best foot forward to capture the trend. Umesh Kumar spoke on behalf of the manufacturer Kamarvy, which excels in high value addition products, especially handicraft banjara handbags and high fashion bridal jackets, “Animal-inspired motif has always been our go-to for bags as we provide them in mixed media such as leather and suede mixed with embellishments, cut-outs, tassels etc. Since these are faux goat fur and cowhide bags, you get the motifs as well as the texture to go with it. We add a touch of mirror work and beading along with leather cut-out works and our buyers are very satisfied with the final products.”

Animal prints by embroidery expert Cheer Sagar
Animal prints by embroidery expert Cheer Sagar

Animal prints have found a way to successfully thrive in niche segments as well. Nikhil Thukral, from Maharana of India, explained, “We are doing resortwear and bias-cut dresses in a big way. It is a very niche line in high fashion fabrics such as georgettes and chiffons. We go for all the bright prints and animal prints go well with absolutely any print that we do. The combination of such motifs with brighter counterparts such as tropicals, jewel prints go extremely well on our dresses that are aimed to provide the buyers with the perfect resortwear garments.”

Animal print resortwear collection by Maharana Of India

The strive towards sustainability might have reduced the fur and other fauna skin utilisation, but the drive towards animal-inspired aesthetics is rapidly popularising. Despite the dip in animal prints at the end of 2018, the wild flair of runways coupled with the promising offering of the manufacturers solidifies the presence of this pattern type for the upcoming seasons.

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