Animal, camouflage prints for men stalk Europe's runways

Trying to locate the line between good taste and 'good God!' when fashion becomes frivolous is getting harder as designers become more adventurous.

Just when Aussie gents have finally grasped the idea of having a floral-print shirt in their wardrobe, northern hemisphere designers are sending animal and jungle prints down the SS16 runways.

The pressure to be a part of the fashion-forward crowd can be suffocating, with British favourites such as Christopher Raeburn releasing a printed sweater featuring a swinging monkey that takes you back to your childhood.  But does such character-printed apparel make you look childish? Or can you get away with it by wearing a sophisticated Burberry Prorsum piece, which is also following the trend?

Yes, the under-25 man will carry this look with confident charisma; but can a high-profile professional in his magnificent 40s do the same?

The rules for wearing prints

The key rule is to only wear one statement print at a time and surround it with clean, earthy and muted tones that you would already have in your wardrobe.  Seek out the ultimate contrast in your apparel; the busier the print, the plainer should be the accompaniment.

The easiest signature piece to work within the animal print wolf pack is the shirt, jumper or T-shirt. And if you happen to really be on safari, then you can throw in an accessory. That can be as subtle as a camouflage watchstrap, or a pair of Wayfarers with indigenous artwork on the frames.

If you are finding the latest prints of monkeys, leopards and The Flintstones a tad childish, opt for the reinvented camouflage of Valentino, Dries van Noten, Kenzo, APC and Comme des garcons. Conceived as an invisibility device, camouflage apparel is now designed to get you noticed.

Blending in or standing out?

The traditionally macho pattern has many designers offering a different take in powerful shades of green, khaki, deep violet, black, grey and latte. Throughout the fashion world, camouflage is now considered a new neutral for men.

Experimenting with this longstanding pattern is easy with retailers ASOS, Topman and H&M viewing 'camo' as a staple and versatile option to floral. Look at any street style gallery and you will find inspiration around camouflage, with fashion-savvy industry people using it as a major force within the outfit.

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So what is the likelihood of professional gentlemen wearing animal and camouflage prints on their day off? Quite high, thanks to designers such as Valentino who have readapted camouflage into the luxury sector, while Riccardo Tisci from Givenchy modernised and emancipated animal prints into what men wanted to see; rottweilers and dobermans.

What's your view on animal and camouflage prints in casual wear -  would you wear them?

Extensive experience within retail trend analysis companies has earned Louise Edmonds street cred in the luxury menswear sector. The founder of utilises her passion and understanding of fashion to deliver a fresh, edgy take on men's style.

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