Print It Good

By Tanya Silverman

Photo courtesy of Wendy Firmin.

The summer’s here, and we’re rocking our yearly free-and-easy floral dresses and (possibly) ironic flowery Hawaiian button-up tops.

The usual seasonal selection aside, perhaps you’ve noticed the various ways prints evolved in recent years. Medleys are motley, from bold croissant socks to peacock-feather stretch pants to very berry rompers.

Photo by Tanya Silverman.

Vintage prints, like on starchy ‘60s dresses, seem more subtle, while lots of patterns as of late look like they’re entering some sort of chromatic nirvana of the subject depicted. Consider leopard spots, which were around for ages. Through these past few years, they’ve been adapted into all sorts of meta-patterns, where shirts may feature ferocious faces in the center, or psychedelic purple collages of merging felidae.

Hippie-esque prints are repurposed, like paisleys put on elegant dresses and blouses, or tie-dye on workout wear. Other trendy garments even merge the unthinkable–for instance, a pair of starry space-exploration spandex pants touched with terrestrial animal faces on the knees.

Given all the fun and spunk they express, some patterns even mark a charitable cause. Take the Vans x ASPCA series–skate sneakers and accessories cutely composed of canines or felines, in which part of the proceeds go to support the animals depicted.

Prints can be a journey. Voyaging through the pages of the online shop, Print All Over Me, leads you through all sorts of spontaneous routes into unfounded aesthetic dimensions. Exotic destinies include poppy yellow fruits atop blue squiggles or vibrantly hued close-ups of quilt fabric textures.

In fact, the online shop’s eclectic print series are democratic; customers may select a blank slate of fabric, upload images, and design their own custom patterns to be put on new pants, shirts, towels, hats, etc.

To try and understand some method to the mayhem of prints, I consult Print All Over Me’s Jesse Finkelstein on the phenomenon.

Photo courtesy of Castaway Vintage.

Well, why are prints so popular now? Finkelstein believes they reflect the times we live in.

“Because of things like Instagram and the ability to view fashion shows online our experience of clothing has changed,” he reasons. “It’s become much more visual, and great deal more reliant on the print to communicate an aesthetic, rather than the material or dimensionality of the garment.”

Finkelstein continues about the innovative level of prints nowadays, saying, “With the availability of less expensive printing methods, like digital printing, smaller and emerging designers can now have full access to the ability to develop photo realistic textiles. Whenever you have smaller designers driving the technology things get more interesting.”

Photo courtesy of J Neuberger.

Though, if you find the effervescence of today’s prints too much to handle, just stick with simple stripes or solids.