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At Liberty Fairs, Heritage Denim Gets a Sustainable Reboot

At Liberty Fairs Las Vegas, denim went back to its roots in more ways than one.

Workwear, selvedge denim and heavyweight jeans were all on display, with many brands unknowingly coming together to update the classics and pay homage to the fabric’s origins. But while the styles were reminiscent of the past, the technologies used to create them had modern sensibilities.

Lee’s Fall/Winter 20-21 collection nods to the brand’s 131 years of history with a series of updated heritage pieces, complete with original tagging and historic details. Think: workwear shirts with flat, open pockets and hem gussets; and raw, 21-ounce denim that nearly stands up on its own. Even its more modern pieces include classic accents, with basic long-sleeved T-shirts boasting reinforced elbow pads and a pocket on the chest.

Carpenter fits were the standout pieces for many brands, including original heritage brand Levi’s. The brand displayed its F/W 20-21 story, “Loosen Up,” with a classic pair of boxy-fit carpenter pants made of hemp denim and available in olive, khaki and burgundy.

AG Jeans displayed workwear-inspired pieces in a variety of warm colors for the Fall, including spiced rum and olive green. The brand featured a matching set, complete with wide-leg utility pants and a cropped denim jacket.

Workwear, selvedge stitching and heavyweight denim were all on display at Liberty Fairs Las Vegas, signaling a move back to heritage denim.
AG Jeans Liz Warren

The heritage fit was also on display at Gilded Age, which showed a collection of carpenter pants featuring a miner’s patch—a reinforced section along the knee that was originally used to conceal extra padding. Jeans were made with 13.5-ounce denim, signaling a move away from stretch and back to the classic rigid styles of the past. But this time around, they’re created without using any new water. The brand uses a dry process that recycles water throughout production.

Kato by Hiroshi Kato also featured heavyweight denim, with 14-ounce selvedge on prominent display. The brand’s standout piece was a chore jacket made of 100 percent recycled cotton, featuring a black corduroy collar and black hardware throughout.

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The rise of workwear has helped reboot long-time brands and position them for a comeback. M.C. Overalls, which debuted in 1908, was re-launched a few years ago and updated for a modern consumer. Overalls and coveralls are now available in virtually every color, from bright orange and yellow to dusty rose and cream, and come in unisex sizing. Styles are available in 3XS-3XL.

Workwear, selvedge stitching and heavyweight denim were all on display at Liberty Fairs Las Vegas, signaling a move back to heritage denim.
M.C. Overalls Liz Warren

Social missions were also a major theme for ethically focused denim brands. Los Angeles-based Bowie & Co. teamed with God’s Pantry, a nonprofit food bank, to donate $7 of every sale to a family in need.

Similarly, Rialto Jeans Project, a brand that upcycles Grade A American vintage denim, donates a portion of its sales to art therapy programs at children’s hospitals, organizations that support victims of human trafficking and more.