The Snakeskin Fashion Fad: Exposed | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

The Snakeskin Fashion Fad: Exposed

Life and Style Editor Imogen Lancaster discusses the drastic implications of the use of snakeskin designs in fashion and how the animal print craze is getting out of hand

From high-end designers to high-street stores, snakeskin is everywhere in the fashion world right now. You just have to walk down the high street, browse online or scroll through social media to see this to be the case.

Take Topshop for example. As one of the largest retailers targeting young women in the UK, they are just one amongst many brands that has taken snakeskin in their stride. But Topshop has arguably been at the forefront of this. They have been advertising their snakeskin garments everywhere and essentially shouting from the rooftops that it’s the print of the season. From boots to dresses to coats to boob tubes, it’s well and truly erupted ... the snakeskin phenomenon is upon us like never before. And its popularity is apparent with many items from Topshop’s Animal Magic range quickly having gone out of stock.

The snakeskin phenomenon is upon us like never before
Like many others it seems, I am guilty of being tempted by snakeskin - something is making me see this print in a whole new light whereby it is suddenly fashion forward and on-trend. The same happened several years ago when I realised (after prompting from the high street brands left, right and centre) that leopard and cheetah print were no longer deemed trashy, but had in fact been well and truly revived as a classy print to spice up a subdued ensemble.

Most will see nothing wrong with the snakeskin phenomenon- it’s just another harmless trend in the fast fashion world we live in. At the end of the day it is bound to be deemed last season before we know it, like most other fashion fads.

This differs from the bog-standard craze in that it has more serious undertones and implications, that I doubt many consider as they skip happily away from the shop with their new snakeskin dress in tow. The question I raise is: is considering snakeskin and furs a fashion statement legitimising the hunting of animals for their skin to be used in garments?

‘But obviously it’s not real snakeskin’ I hear you say. Well yes, but we must look at the bigger picture and beyond the likes of Topshop, Missguided and Zara.

Divulging in this trend creates demand for animal prints - it glorifies, glamourises, and normalises furs and the skin of animals as something we should be wearing. And because the demand is there, the widespread hunting of animals becomes a lucrative business to accommodate high-end, luxury fashion. Hunting therefore not only continues, but becomes more widespread and accepted, as we aim to fulfil the latest trend and provide for the desire of having the ‘real deal’.

Upon realising this, it dawned on me that in some indirect way, we are inadvertently condoning hunting through investing in these trends…even if what we buy is faux fur.

Don’t get me wrong, it pains me to say this because I hold my hands up and admit that I am a fan of these prints. Yet, even though I am guilty of owning several cheetah and leopard print items, I’m starting to second guess buying myself an iconic snakeskin piece.

Look beyond the shopping cart and sales racks and start to question the behind–the-scenes of the fashion world
At the end of the day, snakeskin isn’t a necessity of fashion. It is not essential for fashion to favour snakeskin bags or fur coats - someone along the line decided this was to be the next up and coming hot new thing. In reality, fashion knows no bounds and has the potential to technically make anything a trend and bring any print to fruition. So why the skin of animals? Maybe it’s about time the fashion world looks beyond animal skin.

When it comes down to it, each and every one of us should feel entitled to buy into whatever trend we so choose. And if that means donning a snakeskin dress then so be it. But what we can take from this is that we should start to question our seemingly harmless purchases. And not only in terms of the impact on hunting, but in terms of fast fashion and its consequences for the environment, and misconduct and mistreatment in the workplace with the likes of sweatshops.

Look beyond the shopping cart and sales racks and start to question the behind–the-scenes of the fashion world. Becoming conscientious consumers will never do any harm in the grand scheme of things.

Current Life&Style Print Editor, Former Life&Style Online Editor 17/18 and Deputy Editor 16/17. Primarily write for Life&Style. Fourth year English Language student, previously studied abroad in Canada.


1st September 2018 at 12:00 pm

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