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Crack the buying code: Does a leopard ever change its spots?

As the fashion cycle becomes shorter, and major retailers shift from design-led to buying-led structures, knowing the stock and trends to invest in is crucial.

Here at WGSN, we give buyers data-driven content in line with their workflow to support decision-making on the trends to invest, so they can identify opportunities across future seasons.

So what’s the secret to a successful buying season? For the next four weeks, we’re taking you behind the scenes at WGSN, as our experts reveal how they identify the drivers and divers that make or break a season.

 

No matter where we turn,  leopard print is inescapable. From the streets, to the stores and social media feeds, leopard is one of the key prints of the season. It may be a perennial pattern regularly seen across different categories, but – just like everything else – leopard can dial up or down depending on the season.  

For the first installment in our Crack the Buying Code series, we spoke to our Director of Retail & Buying Sara Maggioni to get the inside scoop on how leopard print became a staple, and where the trend is going next.

 

When did we start to go wild for leopard?

The uptick came onto the WGSN radar in 2016. While it was always there to a certain extent, we at WGSN saw it gaining popularity in line with 80’s looks as well as the sudden arrival of Maximalism across the catwalks, led by Gucci,” says Maggioni. “For S/S 17 and then again S/S 18 we advised our subscribers to move away from the recoloured, 80’s inspired OTT looks in favour of authentic colourways and designs”.

Tom Ford, A/W 18

 

 So what’s the appeal? 

While ultimately safe and familiar, there’s a statement element to leopard print. It’s a pattern that taps into maximalism at a commercial, wearable level. It’s a good way to update basic shapes, instantly transforming them into fashion items, and it is one of those print that can work well across age ranges and market levels – when executed in the correct way” says Maggioni. It-girl brands are now driving popularity, too – Realisation Par and Ganni were strong drivers in S/S 18, helping to drive popularity across mid-market and social media.

 

A change of context

What makes the evolution of leopard print so stark, is the shift in the context. “While in the past, leopard prints were associated with glam, sassy styles, its infiltrated streetwear-inspired aesthetics, too, as well as across more contemporary silhouettes,” says Maggioni. Tapping into popular high-low styling, the print is given new connotations – and a new lease of life.

A perennial pattern, leopard print isn’t set to disappear. “However, because of its current overexposure across retail, it will dial down a bit and evolve for upcoming seasons” says Maggioni. For the leopard update, anticipate a blend of different animal prints, spliced across the same item. 

What’s next for leopard print? 

And while leopard holds the current crown in the realm of prints, the market indicates its saturation. So what’s next on prints?  For more on the future of leopard and where it will evolve, download our new, exclusive Buyers report. Discover where the print came from, and where it will go next. 

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.

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