Sound the death knell for the animal print

Most people do not even recognise the irony of the popular fashion trend. 

July 5, 2015

Hear the phrase “animal print” and you’ll immediately think of a spotted feline hide of some sort, perhaps a cheetah or a leopard.

The earliest recollection I have of the look, and of myself having a strong distaste for it, dates back to when I would watch The Nanny as a child, when my own nanny would laugh with me, pretending she understood English and enjoyed Fran’s sassy brand of comedy.

The animal print would go on to become an integral part of the design philosophies of the houses of Cavalli and Versace, among many other Italian brands, embodying a kind of luxurious tackiness sought after by many a fashion follower.

From there, it would eventually trickle down to the wardrobes of women who made a hobby out of plastic surgery. And of rappers. And owners of porn studios. And drug dealers. Needless to say, it was never really a very classy look.

But between then and sometime last year, the paradigm somehow shifted. No longer does animal print refer to spots and stripes of the jungle variety. Instead, we now have drawings of a range of animals, from hummingbirds to elephants to camels, on our everyday garb. There’s Kate Spade’s flamingos and Salman Khan’s hideous parrots, too. It’s as if in your own closet, you can have your own personally curated little zoo. 

Now that’s all good. I don’t object to the new concept of animal print and how today’s well-dressed have welcomed the trend. I just find it a little bit ironic, and not in a hipster kind of way.

On one hand, we find these cartoon animals cute and cuddly and fashionable so we decide to wear pictures of them on our clothes.

But on the other hand, we kill the real ones for fur, feathers and leather. We hunt elephants for their tusks because we can use them to make exquisite home decor. We test cosmetics on mice and monkeys. We keep wild animals as pets in our villas so we can upstage our friends on Instagram. We smuggle cockatoos in little PET bottles for god knows what twisted, self-indulgent reason. And we want to wear drawings of them on our shirts now, as what, some kind of primitive warrior trophy? The saddest part is most people don’t even recognise the irony of it.

I didn’t suddenly decide to join PETA, or swear off ostrich leather and the occasional Winter fur, in case you were wondering. I just thought I’d put this out there, so people would pay more attention to what clothes they put on their backs and what it actually means to wear those styles.

Having said all of that, though, I’m still wearing the trend as you can see in the main image, only I’m doing it ironically, and in protest.

Jim Joquico is founder & editor-in-chief of La Moda Dubai and Fashion Chameleon. Visit lamodadubai.ae and fashionchameleon.ae