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Comment: Is leopard print fashion’s most enduring trend?

As the Drapers editorial team settled at their desks one morning this week, we surveyed each other and noticed almost everyone was wearing something leopard print.

This has been an increasingly common occurrence over recent months, as Team Drapers, shoppers and pretty much everyone has gone roaring mad for leopard.

Look around any office, Tube carriage, bar or restaurant and the odds are that someone will be wearing leopard. It has proved one of the most powerful and enduring fashion movements of recent seasons, with a staying power that has outlasted every other autumn 18 trend.

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Emilia Wickstead autumn 19

But despite leopard’s move into the mainstream and its current prevalence at all levels of the market, from the high street to high end, the trend shows no sign of waning.

Feline spots were all over the autumn 19 catwalks, suggesting there’s at least another season’s mileage left in leopard. Designers Ashley Williams and Emilia Wickstead sent exotic outerwear down the runway in London and in Milan, the print was spotted at Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Bottega Veneta.

Leopard has also proved a commercial hit on the high street. Sales of animal-print product rose by 223% in 2018 at etail giant Asos compared with the previous year. It was a similar story at supermarket Sainsbury’s, where animal print sales increased by 178% on 2017. Brands and retailers including Instagram-favourite US label Realisation Par, H&M sister brand & Other Stories and high street staple Topshop have all had leopard print skirts go viral online as customers stampede to get their hands on the trend.

Retailers have also been savvy when it comes to keeping customers interested and extending the life of the trend, by rapidly expanding their animal print offer to include an entire menagerie of creatures, including snake, zebra, cow and giraffe.

Customers’ current obsession with leopard comes back to the versatility of the print. It is both a statement and, famously, a neutral. And you don’t have to be a certain size, shape or age to buy into the trend. Cautious shoppers can dip a toe into animal  with a belt, bag or shoe, and those feeling bolder can go whole hog with a head-to-toe look. Leopard has been worn by everyone from Jacqueline Kennedy to Pat Butcher, Beyoncé to Kate Moss.

It is unlikely that the current popularity of the print will last forever. Customers will, inevitably, get bored and retailers will be on to the next must-have. But its timeless, enduring appeal means it will only be so long until leopard print rears its head again.

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