Print isn't dead. In fashion terms, digital has only served to provide it with a host of new incarnations. While the ancient art of applying colour patterns to fabric is still practised with varying degrees of hand-crafting in fancy collections everywhere, Photoshop now lets people devise entirely new kinds of prints, and digital printing lets them apply those prints to clothing almost as if it were paper (or a pro-version of those photo T-shirts you can get done at Snappy Snaps). For all that, print - ancient or modern - is still, of course, much more widely experimented with in women's fashion and wardrobes than it is men's. Perhaps it's something to do with childhood Paisley traumas, or the ever-present risk of looking like a clown or the office wacky tie-guy, or just the way that - outside of safe checks and nautical stripes - it doesn't cater to our preference for risk-free style codes. This season, though, more big designers have dared to print far more contentious material on men's clothes, from Prada's florals to tribal designs, exotic birds and boldly abstract epics at print veterans Etro. And next week, print-centric new label Agi and Sam will hold its first ever London Fashion Week catwalk show, having been selected as one of the nation's best new menswear labels. It's no great surprise: the design duo won lots of admirers with a smaller-scale presentation at the last fashion week, and you can tell their palette from a mile off. Nominally, Sam Cotton is the print half of the partnership, and Agape "Agi" Mdumulla is in charge of the cut of the cloth, but, as Mdumulla explained on a stool in their east London studio, it's more fluid than that. "We both have ideas for everything but I can't use Illustrator and Photoshop and Sam can't use a sewing machine. I studied menswear design and Sam studied Illustration, so if we're sat there and he says, 'Why don't we design something like this…' then I'm the one who can actually make it." The autumn/winter collection the pair were working on - their fourth - was, Cotton said, "Looking at the evolution of man and fabrics." We won't spoilerise the specific story that inspired their imminent show, but chocolate wafers and time travel both feature. As for the collection, there are cleverly refined and resized prints that look like thick, multicoloured wool, tweed and tartan till you get up close to see they're totally textureless. (Cotton has found producers able to use dye sublimation, a less costly and fiddly alternative to digital printing, and get similar results on more fabrics.) This hint of an optical illusion is something of a trademark; explaining one lovely avian print, Cotton says they also looked at "tessellations by Escher." You don't need a fine art degree to get the appeal of their prints, mind - as Agi points out, the textural intrigue of a simple sweatshirt that looks like a woolly jumper is enough to draw a stranger ever closer to you in a bar. Cotton also has a proven commercial eye, having seen his work make it on to finished garments during his stints in the print departments at Alexander McQueen, J.W. Anderson and Karl Lagerfeld, and from there, on to the backs of retiring musical flowers like Kanye West and Rufus Wainwright. Cotton doesn't only want to make outfits for pop stars, though. "We've kind of got known using this full printed look, but now we're using more plains and trying to make it more inclusive," he said. With the printed pieces, he says, the secret now, as always, is to keep the ingenuity in the print design, not the cut of the garment itself. "You can't really put print on weird shapes, it's just too much weirdness at one time." Final proof that Britain is ready for Agi & Sam's playful pattern cognition? Cotton recently heard the ultimately bittersweet tribute that proves a young British label is going places: in the design studio of an all-conquering UK menswear chain, there's a whole "inspiration" board covered in his prints.