Peace, love and paisley

A print with appeal for rappers, hippies, and all in-between

What do hippies, cowboys and Tupac have in common? The ever-popular paisley pattern that’s set to make an appearance in the hottest laidback menswear looks.

Somewhere in what we now know as Iran, an ornamental design called ‘boteh’ first appeared. Scholars debate whether its inspiration stemmed from the shape of a teardrop, petal, or bent tree. What is certain is the long-lasting influence it’s held in the fashion world. The design we’re talking about is commonly known as paisley, named after a town in western Scotland where textiles were produced. The pattern first made its way to Britain adorned on Kashmir shawls, brought to the West by the infamous British East India Company in the 18th century. The ongoing industrial revolution of the time meant that locally made imitations were able to be produced quickly and inexpensively, making it a commonplace fashion among the middle-class of the time.

In the 1960s, an incredibly powerful youth movement appeared, largely in opposition to the Vietnam War but birthed from the frightening direction that world events were taking: the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King, and the seemingly never-ending Cold War were the defining events of the century. Anti-war protests were at an all-time high and hippy culture was pervading the mainstream, seen in the explosive popularity of a band you might have heard of: The Beatles. Paisley’s prevalence in this era would cement it as a fashion mainstay until the modern day, where it’s still commonly seen on ties, waistcoats, and even on furniture.

Another often overlooked aspect taken on by this particular pattern is its relation to gang culture in the United States. The coloured bandanas used by modern gangs sport a paisley pattern more often than not – and this influence made its way into the wardrobes of the gangsta rap genre’s artists and fans alike.  It can even be traced back to the bandanas used as face coverings in the Wild West, something immortalised in films that celebrate that now lost way of American life.

Paisley seems to have always represented a pushback against the hegemony of Western culture, worn by outlaws and others who felt abandoned by the inevitable march of progress. This wide variety of influences and inspirations serve to remind us of the incredible versatility of this design, something each and everyone one of us can apply to our own outfits.


Stay Trippy

Paisley’s main connotation is of that point in time when love was free and outfits were fire. Pair a paisley shirt with some simple black, navy, or khaki shorts and sandals to match to tap into the comfortable and effortlessly cool aesthetic of the 60s. Or, if you’re feeling more daring, flip the look with paisley shorts and a simple plain or logo tee for a more modern, eye-catching ensemble. With progressive social justice movements gaining traction around the world, there are more similarities than you might think between us and the hippies who popularised this style. After all, in the age of climate change, who doesn’t love a tree-hugger?

Rebel with a Cause

If you’re going for a night out on the town instead of day out in the sun, then consider pairing your paisley shirt with a pair of denim and a leather jacket to subtly level up the look most famously sported by James Dean. Motorcycle clubs are a powerful visual reference here, although we’d suggest you don’t imitate the other actions of some of the most infamous among them.


Push the limits with a top-to-toe paisley look for an outfit that’s both aesthetically unified and incredibly unique. Monochrome outfits were a major movement in the last couple of years and you can take it up a notch by incorporating this simple yet evocative pattern.

Subtly Sartorial

Finally, bring a little spice to your office life by pairing a paisley shirt with your normal work attire. The suit-and-tie is a timeless look but doesn’t communicate much about your personality. Wearing a paisley shirt without a tie makes for a more laidback look that maintains that professional essence.


Yours in style.