“This is the first time in my 30-year career that multiple denim trends are happening at once,” said Mary Pierson, senior vice president of denim design at Madewell. “The release of skinny jeans seems to have accelerated so quickly. Now we see a range of trending leg shapes and heights as well as heavier, less stretchy and non-stretch denims gaining popularity.
Although consumers found physical and emotional comfort in dressing in comfortable loungewear during the early months of the pandemic, Covid-19 is not the singular factor in the move towards roomier fits. “The skinny trend has been dominant for so long that a change was ready to happen,” Pierson said.
The first signs of wider cuts appeared on the catwalks years before when streetwear-oriented designers like Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston gained a foothold in the luxury market, which applied an expensive designer label to the hallmark aesthetic of the genre. .
Add to that the mainstreaming of genderless design (which leans heavily on boxy workwear-inspired silhouettes), coupled with millennials’ fixation on ’90s nostalgia and the rise of sneakers.” ugly” – chunky styles that require wider proportions of denim – and it’s clear that skinny The fate of jeans was written long before sweatshirts became the universal work-from-home uniform and a 15-year-old TikToker s have always complained about the “cheugy” cut.
The plot twist, however, is how being locked away for months in Kondo closets and scrolling through social media has led consumers of all ages to a brand new denim persona as they emerge from quarantine – and the speed at which this evolution has taken place. “When the pandemic happened, it pushed trends forward and faster,” Pierson said. “People see things faster and adapt to new things faster, unlike the days when a few people slowly adopted trends and the masses followed.”
The resulting trend cycle means anything goes in denim, from low-rise and mid-rise jeans to flared, bootcut, cargo, balloon, straight, mom, casual and more. And everything old is new again, especially for Gen Z consumers and to the delight of brands with a desirable design vault.
“We’re not drawing inspiration from anyone but ourselves right now,” said Zihaad Wells, creative director of True Religion, the brand of low-rise, baggy 2000s jeans worn by Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton at their heyday Y2K, and most recently by Bella Hadid. The Ricky straight jeans remain True Religion’s #1 because they not only nod to the brand’s original style but also to the current fashion mood.
“It’s clear that the new cycle of denim trends in 2022 is seeing a welcoming reappearance from the past,” Wells said, adding that True Religion is responding to that demand for nostalgia with archival styles like low cuts for women and loose silhouettes for men. “Consumers are really fascinated by fashion from the early 2000s and I think it’s because the trends of the time were unbalanced in the best possible way. People were getting creative with self-expression through their fashion choices, and we’re seeing that movement again. It just looks a little different.
In terms of silhouettes, Favorite Daughter’s design director Carla Calvelo said the ’90s and ’00s are big influences this year, naming relaxed, oversized, flared, bootcut and straight-leg styles as ones to watch. The brand continues with high-waisted and elongated silhouettes and sees an interest in “tailored” denim pants with a wash based on raw denim.
“I love the idea of continuing to explore tailored cuts, elevated pieces that can be recognized as Favorite Daughter,” she said.
The same era filters into Joe’s Jeans collections for 2022, and it’s a comfort zone for Alice Jackman, the brand’s design director. “I’ve been in the denim industry for over 20 years, so a lot of design influences from the late 90s and early 2000s are familiar to me from the first time around,” she said.
Future Joe collections will feature looser and looser fits in line with the trend cycle. The brand also has a new fabric called “Heirloom,” which Jackman says has a prominent denim twill line with a super soft hand feel and “the perfect amount of stretch.”
“I have great resources for vintage here in LA, so I’m always discovering amazing worn pieces to replicate for washing on all of our modern denim fabrications,” she said.
Meanwhile, old-school skate culture is guiding Hudson Jeans’ new direction, according to Steffan Attardo, the brand’s director of menswear design. Paint splatters, destruction and coated fabrics add edge to the brand’s upcoming collections, but the real focus is on creating voluminous cuts.
“Longer cuts are the new mainstream,” Attardo said.
The past is inspirational, but Gen Z is copying and pasting it to make it relevant through their social megaphones on Instagram and TikTok.
Although social media’s stronghold on fashion dates back to the 2000s with Tumblr, today’s platforms grew in importance for consumers and brands as pandemic restrictions shut down other traditional sources of clothing inspiration like street style. , red carpets, in-person events, and even the ability to browse. stores.
“Social media has really become the catalyst for new trends that are emerging all the time,” said Sarah Ahmed, co-founder and chief creative officer of DL1961. “New information and innovations are shared so quickly and easily that it’s no wonder denim trends are changing more than ever.”
The rapid pace at which denim trends evolve works in favor of the vertically integrated DL1961. In February, the New York-based brand released its first line of jeans made with Recover’s post-consumer recycled cotton fiber. Styles center on wide legs, bootcut, flared and straight cuts. “Because all of our manufacturing takes place under one roof at our family-owned factory in Pakistan, we can easily make changes and adapt to new styles and trends if needed,” Ahmed said.
“I think the trend cycle is constantly changing as we continue to share our lives and our wardrobes on social media,” Ahmed said. “It all depends on the spread of information, the speed at which it happens and technological advances in denim manufacturing that will allow us to keep pace.”
“The way we experience trends is completely different now and it will never be the same again,” Wells added. “When you know that, you can kind of do whatever you want.”
All winning streaks eventually come to an end, and designers anticipate that this denim bubble may burst sooner than the industry norm for trends.
In the past, Pierson said it was common to expect a denim fit or trend to last at least five years, maybe longer, but as denim trends change, trends in the tops and shoes consumers carry with them are also changing. While it’s unclear how quickly consumers will want another top-to-bottom wardrobe refresh, Pierson said she expects trends around straight, wide-leg and flared denim to continue for “the next year or two”.
Attardo echoed that sentiment, saying the focus on these crises should continue “at least for the next couple of years.”
Where the jeans will go next, and when, remains a mystery that only the next generation of consumers can determine, but if the resilience the denim industry has shown during the pandemic has proven anything, it’s that There will always be a greedy jeans shopper.
“People’s love for denim is constant and that’s a good thing,” Wells said. “However, we are always keeping an eye on the future and making sure that we are that brand that continues to have a unique point of view. We want to stay on top of what the younger generation are doing, and if we do , I think we won’t be as focused on continuing the trend because we’re just doing what feels right to us.
This story appears in the Spring 2022 issue of Rivet. Click here to see the full issue.