Get ready for our definitive list of fall 2020 print trends. All throughout New York, London, Milan, and Paris, there was a shift towards the stable, wearable, and cozy, which was well reflected in the print trends.
Plaids and tartans were by far the most heavily used prints, giving us timeless warmth and comfort. With a lot of designers, there was also a return to the past, with vintage florals and tapestry-inspired fall 2020 runway patterns.
On the slightly more artistic side of the fall/ winter 2020 print trends, there were abstract paint splatters and symmetrical designs, while other designers took inspiration from nature with autumnal floral prints, both large and small.
#1. Plaids and Tartans
Plaids and tartans are exquisite fall/ winter 2020-2021 print trends. Both patterns traditionally grace woolen clothing, so they are intricately tied to powerful warmth in our minds. There was no shortage of plaid and tartan on the runways this season from a variety of designers, so we’d say this is the stand-out print trend of the season.
The entire Tibi collection was excitingly unique yet totally professional and wearable, with a light and dark blue plaid dress for the more feminine sort or a half-and-half skirt suit with one panel in black and another in gray with a plaid pattern over it giving ‘80s menswear vibes.
At Victoria Beckham, large plaid prints came in a fetching series, including a few dresses and skirt suits made of what appeared to be reconstructed lumberjack shirts. There was lots more plaid on the runways – so much that it’s impossible to document it all, but it was certainly also spotted at Versace, Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Celine, Burberry, and many more.
#2. Tapestry and Carpet Inspo
We’ve already wrapped ourselves in blankets, but this season it’s time to wrap ourselves in carpets! This was one of the fall/ winter 2020 print trends that we hadn’t really seen before: garments made of tapestry or carpet-style woven materials.
There were a few coats at Gabriela Hearst made out of repurposed Turkish kilim, a type of tapestry woven rug usually covered in a print called “elibelinde,” which is reminiscent of a woman with her hands on her hips.
It was all about the woven garments at Etro, as well, with models wearing warm, tasseled coats, jackets, and ponchos inspired by gaucho blankets. We saw more of this kind of tapestry-esque weaving at Paco Rabanne, Mimi Prober and Marine Serre.
#3. Big Florals
As part of the fall/ winter 2020-21 print trends, big floral prints covered and protected the body, giving off a feminine charm with a daring streak.
We saw florals of all sizes at Rodarte, but we were most intrigued by large and brightly colored yet autumnal florals that decorated comparatively delicate and figure-hugging caped silk dresses that showed up towards the end of the show.
Dries Van Noten is known for his unusual use of prints, and this season was no different, with a dark runway saturated with jewel tones that somehow did not contrast against all of the oversized tropical floral prints.
The theme at Collina Strada was “Garden Ho,” so florals of all sizes made a fair bit of sense – often in one outfit! We saw hyper-real prints of large sunflowers and roses, along with smaller and more abstract designs.
We also saw a return to large, hyper-real florals at Richard Quinn, who had also exhibited a lot of floral print in the spring.
#4. Delicate Florals
After all of the big florals, the more delicate and smaller floral runway patterns seem even more demure and cute. They don’t seem to fit quite as well with the colder seasons, and yet, designers made them work.
At Tory Burch, most of the floral prints had been designed by the artist Francesca DiMattio, from whom Tory Burch took a lot of inspiration for the collection. The result was a feminine and somewhat rustic print decorating the tight-fitting suit that opened the show as well as a large number of flowy dresses and skirts.
It’s not unusual for an Anna Sui collection to feel a little gothy, but combined with very bohemian and delicate floral prints, the looks brought to mind a thoroughly modern nature witch.
Demna Gvasalia mostly stuck to black this season at Balenciaga, but there were a few contrasting delicate florals, including a big, black quilted coat covered in a small purple floral print.
#5. Vintage Florals and Fleur De Lys
The further back we go in time, the more abstract floral prints become. Fleur de Lys and vintage floral prints felt romantic and historical in the fall/ winter 2020-21 print trends.
The Marie Antoinette inspiration was not subtle at all at Moschino, so the copious vintage floral prints fit right in, working well with the big silhouettes, even over unusual materials like denim and PVC.
Likewise, at Acne Studios, the inspiration for the prints in the collection came from the past, with velvety jacquard and brocade floral fabrics used to craft low-slung trousers and tight-fitting dresses. We saw more vintage florals at Marni, Badgley Mischka, Marine Serre, and Tadashi Shoji.
#6. Arty Animals
Art is great, animals are great – why not combine them for the fall 2020 print trends? There was something playful but not twee about the way designers this season utilized animal prints that had a modern art twist.
We’ll start with our favorite, which was Kenzo, where the brand’s tiger logo was totally transformed into a large painting (from a collaboration with the estate of the late artist Júlio Pomar) that was printed on a wide range of garments.
At Chanel, we loved a sketchy pegasus print that covered a mesh-trimmed white jacket. Animals always make an impact on a Thom Browne runway, but this year they literally walked the runway with models wearing animal head masks. The prints themselves also featured animals, in the form of iron-on patches haphazardly attached to suits.
The last animal print we’ll mention is from Libertine, where a series of velvet suits and coats were covered in a painterly nature scene with different kinds of birds, in combination with a blue and white tile pattern that also fits well into the vintage floral print trend.
#7. Paint Splatters and Streaks
Abstract, artistic prints can work at any time and for any season, and they fit well into the fall 2020 print trends.
There was something oceanic about the combination of colors that decorated the opening garments at the Marques’Almeida show. Skirts, jackets, and dresses were primarily blue with splatters of green, purple, gray, and black giving movement and the suggestion of plant material.
The vibe of the prints at Cividini was more reminiscent of abstract brush strokes, including a sleeveless skirt suit outfit covered in strokes of red and blue. We also spotted some paint splatter prints at Roksanda.
There is something so striking yet romantic about symmetrical prints. It’s almost but not quite psychedelic, and it always catches the eye and intrigues.
At Alexander McQueen, there was a nod by Sarah Burton to the iconic symmetrical prints that the late designer had presented before his untimely death, especially over a series of red and black dresses with puffy skirts that came towards the end of the show.
At Balmain, symmetrical prints and embroideries decorated sweaters, dresses, suits, and skirts, with almost-gaudy designs of gold chains and horses.
#9. Words and Letters
Phrases, words, and even just jumbled letters – some designers rely on these types of prints to send a message, others rely on it to obscure, and finally, for most, it’s just a way of reinforcing their brand.
At Chanel, an oversized black coat was dotted with the letters C, H, A, N, E, and L (as well as the number 5), making it the world’s easiest and most fashionable word jumble.
Letters were also placed all over garments (including black coats but also on very colorful outfits) at Libertine. Once again, the letters looked jumbled, though this time around, they were taken from the poem “Winter Dream” by Arthur Rimbaud.
The tie-day craze has been going strong for a few seasons now, and a few designers decided to add their own twist on it for the fall 2020 runway patterns.
We admit we didn’t expect tie-dye from Tom Ford, and yet the designer presented a caftan that we deeply covet: a magnificent creation that is shorter in the front and then drapes dramatically down the back like a train, with a tight at the neck, which he presented in both black and orange.
There was plenty of room for tie-dye in Collina Strada’s hippie collection, including casual hoodies and loose cargo pants.
Patchwork has been gaining traction over the last year or so, and it was particularly interesting to see patchwork-mimicking prints for the fall 2020 runway patterns, usually from the most creative designers.
One of our favorite dresses at Ulla Johnson looked as though it was repurposed out of an old quilt, with a hexagonal patchwork pattern punctuated by large blue patchwork stars.
There was a lot of patchwork at Roksanda, with the two standouts for us being a voluminous, robe-like dress made of patches of differently colored satin, as well as a coat that looked like it was made of different knitted scarves sewn together. There were more patchwork patterns on the runways of Alexander McQueen and Marques’Almeida.
The professional-looking print named based on its similarity to sharp-looking teeth made a small but notable showing in the fall 2020 print trends.
There was a psychedelic feel to a large and slightly stretched houndstooth print on a black and white dress at Richard Quinn, worn over what looked to be a nylon houndstooth full-bodysuit that even covered the head. The houndstooth was also a little trippy at Off-White, where the print was used to make a long coat with matching trousers.
There was a lot of print play at Versace this season, including a black-on-red houndstooth pattern that covered a smart, oversized blazer, looking like a traditional plaid at first glance.
If you’d like to embrace your inner masc mafioso, a pinstripe suit is all you need. Thanks to the fall/ winter 2020-2021 print trends, there were plenty of pinstripes to go around!
You can find a full, figure-hugging pinstriped suit at Louis Vuitton, although on the runway, blazers and tight pinstriped trousers in blues or browns were styled separately. Even Vivienne Westwood couldn’t resist, presenting an oversized men’s-style blazer in gray with orange pinstripes.
We got a theatrical (and slightly unhinged) take on pinstripes from Dilara Findikoglu, who presented a pinstriped three-piece suit with flared trousers, a tight vest, a loose jacket adorned with floral fabric appliqués and styled with a blingy letter belt proclaiming the designer’s first name – Bella Hadid was spotted wearing it (sans jacket) very recently.
#14. Leopard Patterns
Animal prints are not going anywhere for the fall/ winter 2020 print trends, so you can hang on tight to all of the leopard print items you picked up in 2019.
Leopard print was extra ostentatious at Versace, with Kaia Gerber rocking a massive fur coat covered in the print over a tiny, sparkly mini dress also covered with tiger stripes. We also spotted a couple of leopard print coats at Miu Miu and Rochas.
The leopard print at Naeem Khan felt celebratory, with cinched extra-flowy satin dresses with all kinds of sleeves and necklines giving us disco-meets-red carpet vibes.
Leopard may have ruled so far, but for the fall 2020 print trends, zebra is working to edge it out a bit! If you live for the black on white, you will surely love what was presented.
The print was all-encompassing at Christopher Kane, with a zebra print fabric used to make a long-sleeved, high-necked dress and a long skirt.
We’ve mentioned the tiger print at Versace, but zebra was actually more ubiquitous! It showed up all throughout the show, primarily as black stripes over gray garments, coating suits, coats, jackets, and dresses.
Photos via Vogue