Fashion, Trends

Leopard print is back this summer – but did it ever die?

What up Tiger King.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Aug 1, 2020

Leopard prints have been around since the dawn of man. You heard that right! Primitive men and women used the skins of the animals they would hunt and wore them for warmth, protection, and display. Later adopted by royalty, they’ve become the long standing symbol of wealth and power – everything from leopard and cheetah print coats to rugs and home decor.


Cue in the world of modern fashion, which took the trend and spun it out. While the 1940’s saw the emergence of animal print during the women’s liberation/bohemian movement, the 1950’s brought in Christian Dior’s muse, Mitzah Bricard, who was fascinated by leopard print and inspired the designer to infuse his accessories, lines, and campaigns with all things leopard. This movement in fashion redefined animal prints, specifically leopard, to a level of chic and sophistication as well as indicators of elegance. By the 1970’s, leopard prints were popular with rock stars like Keith Richards and Rod Stewart, who stretched the fabric (and the bounds of good taste) by dressing from head-to-toe in it.


All this to say that animal prints have long been a popular style for many reasons. They are generally expensive (if they are “authentic”) and considered rather exotic—that means they remain a symbol of wealth and status.  Some 60 years later, we’re starting to see the so-called “comeback” of leopard prints. But the above makes me wonder if the style ever left the stage to begin.


If 2019 fashion taught us anything, it’s that literally anything goes. You want to wear five patterns at once? You can do it! The days of being attached to seasonal trends are really behind us. So it comes as no surprise that leopard prints are back in high popularity, and are expected to be seen everywhere this summer (once we can get out of our sweats and actually show off our outfits). 


One thing to keep in mind is that the key to mastering the art of excessive prints such as leopard lies in exercising restraint. Try pairing a leopard print item of clothing with another piece that isn’t as loud.. Or if you’re one of the ones that truly throw all caution to the wind, go wild and loud: prints on prints on prints. 


Maybe the popularity of Tiger King made you crave something of that aesthetic, or maybe it’s your wild side that is yearning to come out – either way, leopard prints are going to be a hit this summer so we recommend you start planning those outfits. Even if it’s just for a mirror pic.


Photo via Davide Maestri/WWD/REX/Shutterstock