The Untamable Trend

Gabrielle DeMaria, Bao Le, Mya Methe and Paige White

The idea of animal print textile came about in 1930, when people started seeing upper-class members wearing luxury animal print fur clothing.  Many people who were not able to afford real fur wanted to be able to replicate this luxury trend without paying the costly price. Fashion brands decided to use animal print textiles as a new and efficient way for people to wear animal print without using fur. The animal print textile trend has been popular in fashion lines, featured in celebrity wardrobes and more. People were attracted to animal print due to the fact that it was cheaper, more accessible, and was a humane way of following the fur trend. The animal print textile material is different from real animal fur because the textile material is used to mimic distinctive fur patterns and animal skins without using real animals. Additionally, animal printed clothing expanded from just leopard print to cheetah, snakeskin, and zebra printed clothing. Animal prints allowed more people to wear this style of clothing not only for status, but also to express their individualism. According to the article, “Repetition is the Feature Behind the Attention Bias for Recognizing Threatening Patterns”, by Dr. Maryam Shabbir, human clothing evolved to use animal prints as a way to express an individual’s personality, self-pride and to make a statement to society. The boldness that came with this style gave wearers the same feeling of confidence from animal print textile clothing as someone would get from wearing the real fur. Given these points, it is more feasible for consumers to wear animal print due to the textile industry growing and making it acceptable for those who want to imitate the luxurious lifestyle of those who wear real fur or showcase their personality through animal print.

The animal print trend began when people were inspired following the premiere of “Tarzan and The Apeman”, after seeing the actors perform in animal print clothing. When the film made its debut in 1932, stars became fascinated and obsessed with the leopard and cheetah fabrics.The textile trend, specifically animal print, began later in the 1930’s, when leopard prints were produced with materials such as velvetine and chenille as an alternative to real leopard fur. Lanvin, a popular, high-end clothing brand, started designing silk, leopard print dresses in the 1930’s; however, Christian Dior was the designer that helped make leopard print textiles become mainstream. Animal prints textiles, specifically leopard print, made its fashion debut in Christian Dior’s 1947 spring fashion line. Dior’s line showcased Mitzah Bricard wearing a leopard print evening gown and a leopard print day dress. His inspiration for debuting leopard prints arose due to that fact that his muse, Mitzah Bricard, was an avid wearer of leopard fur. The fashion industry then started to incorporate leopard prints into fashion lines, making the trend the center of the fashion world.  The leopard print textile trend continued into the 1950’s, when designers like Normal Norell and Roger Vivier began incorporating it into their fashion lines. In the 1950’s, Vanity Fair introduced leopard print underwear, which led to the mass production of leopard print lingerie and swimwear. After leopard print began appearing on lingerie and swimwear, it became linked to female sexuality and femininity.

The animal print textile expansion occurred due to the high demand for animal print clothing clothing and development of synthetic materials. The process of making textiles started with spinning and weaving thread, silk, and fabrics together into manufactured goods. The next step is to dye and print patterns onto the fabric. Thousands of textile companies throughout the world contribute to the mass production of animal print clothing, making it cheaper for all consumers to purchase them. On the other hand, the process of making fur products is inhumane and extremely gruesome; living animals get taken from fur factory farms and slaughtered. It is an immoral and expensive operation to produce an authentic fur good. Real fur coats from high end fashion designers are usually sold for at least $10,000. Upper-class consumers who can purchase and wear lavish fur clothing do so to show off their high-caliber profile in society. This symbolizes the range of power and wealth that an individual possesses.

In contrast to the wealthy and famous, other people wear synthetic animal print textile clothing to highlight their characteristics, such as personality and exoticness. A large portion of the animal print wearing population is college students. Animal prints customarily have neutral shades and designs that coincide with a large selection of garments that exists in a person’s closet. In addition, textiles’ affordable and accessible features are responsible for the increasing popularity of animal prints among students. Many colleges students’ fashion senses are influenced by the animal print outfits that are showcased by celebrities. In efforts to stay stylish, college students will explore and investigate what is “trendy” by referencing celebrities’ outfits on the internet. Although many young college students cannot afford the high priced fur items, they can imitate the famous figures by purchasing digitally printed animal fabrics at their local boutiques. Despite the fact that people tend to wear synthetic animal prints throughout the year, animal print clothing appears reach peak purchase times at department stores during fall and winter seasons.

Recently, animal prints have been seen on countless runaways during 2018 fall fashion shows, and they are predicted to still be trending in 2019; according to fashion blogs, animal patterns will be seen on runways during the Spring 2019 Fashion Week. Many celebrities, including Cardi B,

cardi b
Figure 2: “Cardi B loves D&G.”

Kendall Jenner,

kendall jenner
Figure 1: “Kendall Jenner stepping out in NYC.”

and the Hadid sisters have been seen sporting this trend as well. As seen in Figure 1, Kendall Jenner is wearing red Tom Ford, leopard print pants. Jenner is showcasing the trend while putting a twist on it. Cardi B, pictured in Figure 2, is dressed from head to toe in Dolce and Gabbana animal prints; similar to Jenner, Cardi B is putting a twist on the trend by combining many different animal prints in one outfit.

This shows how the animal print trend has been consistently popular among women in power. In Figure 3, Michelle Obama is wearing a form-fitted, embellished, leopard print cardigan from J Crew; Obama’s take on the trend is simple, yet chic.

michelle obama
Figure 3: “Michelle Obama looking fierce.”  

Obama’s outfit displays that animal prints are a worldwide trend that even the most sophisticated people can be seen wearing.  Celebrities are not the only ones that support this trend.

Animal print is now more common among people in our society, especially on LSU’s campus. The article “Cheetah, Leopard Print: Acceptable LSU Gameday Fashion…” by Digital consist of opinions from LSU football fans who witnessed multiple women wear different animal prints during gameday. Many fans were disturbed and could not quite understand why so many female, LSU football fans found it acceptable to wear any animal print on game days. A lot of fans feel that people who wear leopard, cheetah, snake or zebra prints to a game are not “accurately representing” their team.

“Our team wears purple and gold. Our mascot is the tiger. These things are not suggestions, they’re part of our grand tradition of our brand of football, specifically, caring a little too deeply about it. We clothe ourselves in regal purple and rich gold and wrap our bodies in the stripes of a tiger…because we are a proud people who believe in hard work, fellowship and defensive backs (Gomila).”

This quote is relevant to animal prints on campus today because this reflects the opinion of a significant portion of the LSU community. LSU football traditions are extremely important  the state of Louisiana as a whole. The colors purple and gold represent royalty and riches, which were selected in the 18th century after LSU won their first baseball game against Tulane University (Scott).The LSU mascot, Mike the Tiger, is a reflection of LSU’s student athletes’ drive for success (Pontchartian). Spiritually, tigers represent a powerful reminder of overcoming obstacles and fears by reclaiming your place of power. The imagery of a tiger represents the ability to manage strong emotions more effectively (whatismyspiritanimal). The public may feel betrayed when they see leopard print or snake print because it does not value the symbolism of tiger stripes. LSU fans should take into account that many may feel offended. Each Saturday, hundreds, possibly thousands, of fans go tailgating and support LSU wearing other prints. Animal print has not yet faded away in today’s fashion and is a versatile product that can be incorporated in many different forms like, skirts, handbags, coats, lingerie, jewelry and in home furnishing items.

Since animal prints are so common amongst LSU students, people wear it to our sporting events, as shown in Figures 4

Figure 4: “LSU Students Wearing Prints to Game Day”

and 5. These images show how gameday fans on LSU’s campus wear non-tiger prints. In “Game Day Fashion: Leopard Print is Not Tiger Stripes” by Gomila, it suggest that many people mistake leopard print for tiger print. Even though some fans might feel others are devaluing the meaning of tiger stripes, it still gives off similar meanings of power. In a blog post, “Callin’ Baton Rouge LSU Gameday Outfit With Animal Prints”,  Leslie mentioned how LSU has accepted leopard print on game days because it is “close enough” to tiger print and exhibits a fierce wild side for her fashionable outfit. Leslie also mentions how basic gold and purple can become boring, while preparing an outfit with different prints satisfy the “LSU look” of the distinct patterns.

party prints
Figure 5: “LSU Students Fiercely Wearing Animal Print to a Party”

Due to the fact that the obsession with animal print began with the symbolism of luxury and wealth, there is a psychological reasoning behind this style of clothing. Clothing can play a huge role in how individuals can express their feelings. Each element that goes into making a piece of clothing, such as the fabric, material, color and trim, can all symbolize the wearers emotions. Animal print expresses the element “fire” as it is made to make a woman feel alive. According the article, “Why Animal Prints are Prowling the High Street”, the author emphasizes… “to wear leopard you must have a kind of femininity which is a little bit sophisticated. If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it” (The Guardian). This supports the concept that women who wear animal print have to own it with pride. Animal print demonstrates the saying “look good, feel good”. Women use this style to uplift their feelings. Fashion designers took note of this and wanted to make it accessible to more women. For this reason, the clothing industry decided to produce animal print textile, which allowed all women to feel this empowerment. This energetic style of clothing was made to make women stand out in the crowd, because, “animal print screams success, power, aristocracy” (Joseph Esshaghian). This proves that animal prints are not just worn by anyone. The trend of animal print promises the feeling of power and confidence for the individual’s overall appearance. Animal prints bring a positive impact to the wearer by increasing their perceived attractiveness. This explains why this trend is favored by majority of women today.

Animal print clothing and accessories are a timeless fashion staple among people of different social classes. From the first time it appeared on Dior’s runaway, to the 1980’s, to today, animal print has proven to be a timeless fashion staple.  Once textiles were introduced and animal prints became more attainable, demand and production increased drastically. This explains why LSU students are able to mirror the style of celebrities and wear animal prints, as both a fashion statement and a display of school spirit. The psychological implications of this trend allow celebrities and students alike to feel empowered. For these reasons, the animal print trend has existed for many years, and will seemingly be prevalent for years to come.

Works Cited

Black, Lauren. “Fall 2018’s Biggest Fashion Trend Is Animal Print: We’re Calling It.” The ZoeReport, The Zoe Report, 9 Nov. 2018, 25 Nov. 2018.

“Cardi B loves D&G.” Fisher, Lauren. “Cardi B Channeled The Nanny’s Fran Fine at Milan Fashion Week.” Harpersbazaar, 24 Sept. 2018. Hearst Communications, Inc. Web. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.

“College Fashion: Hardly Old-School, Campus Clothes Go Stylish.” The Denver Post, The Associated Press, 3 May 2016, Accessed 25 Nov. 2018.

DJ Digital. “Cheetah, Leopard Print: Acceptable LSU Gameday Fashion, or Nah?”, 1079ishot, 30 Aug. 2018, The XXL Network, Web. Accessed 29 Nov. 2018.

“Exhibits Women of High Social/ Political Status Sophisticatedly Wearing Animal Prints” Vannozz, Russell. “See Jackie Kennedy, Beyonce, Michelle Obama & Others Go Wild With Leopard Print.” Parade, 5 Aug. 2018, Web. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.

Le, Bao. “LSU Students Fiercely Wearing Animal Print on Game Day”, 2018. JPEG file.

Michella Obama Looking Fierce”, Vannozz, Russell. “See Jackie Kennedy, Beyonce, Michelle Obama & Others Go Wild With Leopard Print.” Parade, 5 Aug. 2018, AMG. Web. “See Jackie  Kennedy, Beyonce, Michelle Obama & Others Go Wild With Leopard Print.”. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.

Salessy, Heloise, and Rosa Cecilia Gosling. “Dare to Wear Leopard Print for the Fall like Kendall Jenner.” Vogue English, 6 Sept. 2018, Web. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.

Shabbir, Maryam, et al. “Repetition is the Feature Behind the Attentional Bias for Recognizing  Threatening Patterns.” Evolutionary Psychology, Jan. 2018, Web. Accessed 29. Nov. 2018.

“What’s Difference between Fabric and Textile?” Testex, Testextextile, 20 Sept. 2018, 25 Nov. 2018.

“Women Who Run (off to the side of) the Wolves” Artist Project, issue 123, Fall 2014, p42-45. Art & Architecture Complete. Web. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.