Posted on October 26 2016
The Denim Industry: Trends, Competition and Street Style by Roki Prunali
Spoiler alert: I come from a background of working in the premium denim industry, and my husband runs a family built company that produces denim fabric. Before you Pretty Birds think that I am biased on this topic of denim trends, I just wanted to put my denim ties out there.
After relentless conversations with my husband about where the denim trends and the industry is today and the countless street style pictures of the season’s most sought-after jeans that flood my social feeds, denim is such a hot topic for me right now. One thing is for sure, you can never have enough pairs of jeans, but the real question is what is the right jean for you. I do not believe that there can be one fit that is ideal for everyone, so it is only by trial and error that you can find those fits that match you.
It seems these days, all the craze among top designers such as Vetements or Balenciaga is about making that one jean that is sure to be snapped and blasted on social media. Or even this new trend of “demi-denim” where designers put culottes or skirts over denim, but it is still all one piece. But my real question is, do those jeans really look good? And my second question is, are you willing to forgo comfort and aesthetics considering that hefty price? Don’t get me wrong, the premium denim industry already shoves high prices in our faces, but these high fashion ready-to-wear jeans are sometimes double or even triple the price. There is no doubt that the street style stars rock those jeans and look amazing in them. The real truth is that they are probably the 1% of the population that can actually pull the look off. I, myself have tried on the famous Vetements jeans, pre-pregnancy, and as soon as I could actually get them on, I quickly ripped them off. I thought I could emulate those “it” girls and look banging in those jeans, but boy was I wrong. What these beautiful jeans lack is the fit and fabric that the premium denim industry puts their time and effort into.
In comes to play the discussion of rigid denim versus stretch denim. The problem with most of these new trendy styles is the rigidness of the fabric, but is it really a problem because the weight and the manipulability of these jeans is what gets that look. I think the answer lies in finding jeans with the right amount of stretch. If denim has the perfect amount of stretch, but also performs with great recovery (meaning that after these jeans stretch they return to their original form, thus preventing the saggy butt syndrome) then there is a way to have your cake and eat it too: incredible styles with the perfect fit.
The premium denim business does not however seem to be so affected by the runway styles that bombard our feeds. The market for these high-end jeans is rather minute obviously due to price, with the fit being an afterthought.
The denim trends have been in the vintage spectrum for a while now. To get the look unfortunately usually means lack in fit. Let’s face it, high rises are not for the likes of everyone. The vintage craze in part allows for this market of skyrocket prices. The reworking of vintage jeans does not come cheap, because normally they are one of a kind. So, brands like Vetements can charge those prices by citing as justification the many hours of manual labor put into making these reworked jeans. Luckily for us, much of the denim trends evolving in the vintage realm, can be DIY projects. To get that raw edge denim look all you need is a pair of scissors. Scared of making a mistake? Don’t be, the more you chop off the hem, the more stylish it appears to be.
In gender specific denim, fits seem to be switched between between female and male. Look at the success of the boyfriend jean. Women grew tired of let’s say wearing tight clothes and opted for the more casual laid back style of their counterparts. Though we’ve evolved into a better fit now known as the “girlfriend,” which gives us still that laidback style but also the fit of a women’s body. While the same can be said for men’s denim, the rage of the skinny jean among the market for men has increased exponentially.
The real threat facing the denim business is athleisure wear. The likes of Lululemon and other legging appassionato have seriously bitten off a chunk of the business that jean brands used to dominate. You may think they are completely different fashion realms. This is where the circle of comfort comes to play. From the rise in the market of leggings, it is safe to say that consumers are opting for comfort. So, fit and feel is always a key player in our attitude towards what we put on. But what are these denim suppliers supposed to do, sit back and watch as the athleisure market takes over? Some companies, such as Candiani Denim have decided to take the bull by the horns and invent a new fabric that is always denim, but with more stretch thus resembling this mega beast of athleisurewear. They have called it Swenim, so imagining the feel is not so foreign, think sweat pants and denim in one.
One thing is for sure, the denim business has its up and downs, but jeans are definitely not dead. According to Edited.com, there is no real clear growth or shrinkage of the jean business as a whole, but more on a product level. We may be seeing more cropped, boyfriend or girlfriend, and wide leg jeans, but the fact is most retailers place most of the percentage of their buys in skinny jeans. With that being the case, we do not need to put all of our extra pairs in the corner of our closets to collect dust.
So, we can look at our favorite celebrities or street style stars all we want, but I am a firm believer that jeans are such a personal choice. Take note of the trends and inspiration because there is so much to offer.
Here are some of our top picks for denim this season.
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