You’ve seen it on Instagram, the racks of your favorite department store and your morning commute. The silky, sultry leopard-print midi skirt is everywhere these days and has become a seemingly tailor-made wardrobe staple for “hot girl summer,” Megan Thee Stallion’s seasonal mantra of unabashed self-confidence.
The trend’s origins have been widely attributed to the online retailer Réalisation Par, which released its Naomi skirt, a bronze silk knee-length slip pelted with the animal’s print, in March 2018.
Its initial popularity was driven by influencers in New York and Los Angeles who had ascribed little-black-dress status to the skirt. Now there are innumerable copycats, from influencer-bait labels including Ganni and Reformation, as well as fast-fashion brands like Zara, Topshop and Forever 21. The skirt even inspired an anthropomorphic Instagram account, @leopardmidiskirt, which features photographs of women doing activities like balancing a beer can on their butt or taking a bathroom selfie while wearing the skirt.
Teale Talbot, a founder of Réalisation Par, believes that the skirt’s appeal can be pinned down to its “versatility”: It’s sexy, but not too sexy for work, and looks good on everyone. “It suits all body shapes, and because it’s made from silk and drapes just beautifully,” Ms. Talbot wrote in an email. While she admits that the brand didn’t “invent” the leopard print skirt, she said she and her co-founder, Alexandra Spencer, “nailed the fabric, print and silhouette in a certain way that made it very wearable and caught people’s attention.”