by Priya Elan, The Guardian, March 24, 2016
Cactyle from Digby Jackson to Dolce & Gabbana.
Menswear loves a good print: the recent wave of signage chic in labels such as Palace and Vetements (whose DHL T-shirt was recently worn by an actual DHL executive) bore that out. The latest print trend is the cactus, which is set to be omnipresent this summer: from Topman to Coachella.
Dolce & Gabbana’s AW16 collection: cartoon cowboys, desert flowers, horseshoes and cacti. Photograph: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images
Dolce & Gabbana went Americana heavy at their autumn/winter 2016 menswear collection. It was a wild, wild west of soft, luxurious fabrics, featuring lots of cartoon cowboys, desert flowers, horseshoes and, of course, cacti.
But the current ‘cactyle style’ feels a bit more subversive than previous attempts to do Hawaiiana, like the palm print.
“It’s a bit tongue in cheek. You can get so much with such a simple shape,” says Jay Spooner, director and designer of Digby Jackson. Their Day-Glo scream of a collection for autumn/winter 2016, called Prick – which includes jogging pants, a sweater and a 50s-style skirt featuring pop art landscapes – mines those possibilities.
From Digby Jackson’s Prick collection: ‘a bit tongue in cheek.’ Photograph: PR Company Handout
“I wanted it to be a living cartoon. It’s fun, cheeky and phallic. I’m referencing Speedy Gonzales and Looney Tunes.” It ties back the label’s spring/summer collection Run Don’t Walk, “which was based on monster movies from the 50s”.
A living cartoon. Photograph: PR Company Handout
Cactus imagery is also at the core of streetwear label Cactus Plant Flea Market, as worn by Pharrell, Frank Ocean and Big Sean. The scratchy aesthetic here suggest more of the arid expanse of the desert and the subtle signage of surf and skate brands. On the high street, meanwhile, Topman’s short sleeved cactus shirt is a big seller.
Pharrell Williams performs in a Cactus Plant Flea Market t-shirt. Photograph: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
“The inspiration came from wanting to create a fresh new take on the classic Hawaiian shirt, which is why it’s been so popular,” says designer Jessica Neel. “The cactus print is blown up and large scale as a way of playing with proportion. The colours of the cactus are bright and vibrant and are off set against the black which allows for a moodier feel,” adds print designer Felicity Marshall, chiming in with the idea that the cactus is a multilayered piece of imagery.
Topman’s Cactus Print Short Sleeve Shirt. Photograph: PR Company Handout
Jackson predicts that the cactus, with its flirty, desert vibe, will be big at Coachella. “Quite a few people have been snapping up bits for it. I’ve got a custom stage outfit in front of me right now. I’m not sure I can say who it’s for ...”
This article was written by Priya Elan from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.