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Denim Brands Balance Core with Novelty at Project and Magic

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Looser fits, finishing details and non-denim companion pieces to jeans trended at Project and Magic last week in Las Vegas.

The men’s and women’s apparel shows, held alongside Sourcing at Magic, saw a 15 percent increase in exhibiting brands compared to August 2021, according to owner Informa Markets Fashion, including a significant increase in men’s brands. Attendance was also up from the summer event, which marked the events’ first return to an in-person format since February 2020.

Informa reports increased attendance from chain stores and department store buyers over August 2021, and a 50 percent increase in international visitors. Notable retailers in attendance at Project include Macy’s and Nordstrom; Buckle, Asos and Lulu’s were among the retailers at Magic.

“We’re all about discovery, connection, and spotlighting the latest trends, so that brands, both established and emergent, have a platform to promote their product, and retailers are able to ink deals with the hottest new brands across a wide range of categories,” said Kelly Helfman, Informa Markets Fashion president.

Denim provided both a foundation and source of newness for buyers in attendance, and the winners of the Rivet x Project Awards reflected this. There, the Rivet editorial team selected the best in F/W 22-23 denim across seven categories: 7 For All Mankind (Best Women’s Collection), Jack & Jones (Best Men’s Collection), Driftwood (Best Trend), Dead. Than. Cool. (Editor’s Choice), Scotch & Soda (Best Storytelling), PRPS (Best Collaboration) and Mavi (Best Sustainable Collection).

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Women’s brands

Stepping away from its skinny jean roots, Kut From The Kloth at Project offered a deep range of jeans with a relaxed, worn-in look. A high-rise flare jean was accented with button-front pockets; another jean featured distressing at the knees. A “super flare” offered an even roomier fit and dark green cropped wide-leg jeans added a pop of on-trend color. The brand’s straight leg jeans—some with undone hems, cut hems and distressing—are a good transition style for consumers still adjusting to denim’s new cycle.

Lucky Brand, which introduced the Uni Fit skinny jean for Spring/Summer 2022, is expanding the one-size-fits-many concept with a bootcut style for fall. The jeans are in size 1-5, which covers sizes 23-35. Bootcuts, in general, are performing “phenomenally,” according to a brand rep.

Along with straight leg and flare fits, Free People’s diffusion line, We the Free, highlighted the return of the mid-rise. The label is also digging deep into tees and knits.

Level 99, which offers a limited series line of jeans made from pre- and post-consumer waste, presented cropped wide-leg jeans and lavender jeans, which nod to WGSN’s color of the year for 2023. The brand also showed bottoms made with linen/Tencel fabrications.

Unpublished focused on denim fashion pieces like utility dresses and a dark-wash denim trench coat. Outerwear was the main story in Blank NYC’s F/W 22-23 collection as well. Jean jackets were spliced with shearling; others were layered under faux leather blazers. Cargos and corduroy rounded out the brand’s bottoms.

Wash Lab Denim, which has a strong business with Nordstrom and Stitch Fix, skipped conventional denim pieces altogether to focus on long denim skirts made with Tencel blends. Elements in the Los Angeles brand’s line key into Gen Z’s Y2K aesthetic, including corset-like waistbands and frayed trimmings. Other styles use the back of fabrics to build color and textural contrast. Wash Lab also offered zip-up dresses and wide-leg bottoms.

From a 2020 quarantine hobby to now a fashion mainstay, the popularity of DIY-inspired denim continues to grow, and Driftwood’s embroideries, patchwork and retro silhouettes have never felt more current.

The F/W 22-23 collection is dense with rich autumnal colors, floral embroidery, and mixed media patchwork. Used across a myriad of fits spanning flare, relaxed, wide-leg, joggers and bell-bottoms (complete with side insets), Driftwood manages to offer variety without ever losing its bohemian aesthetic. Even low-rise jeans with no back pockets—a style Gen Zers with a Y2K fetish would swoon over—offer a vintage vibe.

Looser fits, finishing details and non-denim companion pieces to jeans trended at Project and Magic last week in Las Vegas.
Driftwood Rivet

For consumers favoring a less literal boho look, standout items include jeans and denim jackets with celestial embroideries, corduroy jumpsuits, jean jackets with dark floral velvet panels and a range of cozy knitwear and blanket jackets.

A trio of licensed collections meant Desigual’s F/W 22-23 collection is home to some of the most decorated and novel pieces. The brand’s Mickey Mouse line spanned jeans and jackets that paired mixed-media patchwork with images of the famous mouse, and a Pink Panther collection included pink wide-leg jeans. Desigual’s ongoing collaboration with The Smiley Company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, includes denim miniskirts with Smiley back pockets and jackets with Smiley hardware.

Meanwhile, Desigual’s main denim range, which uses BCI cotton, traverse several themes, spanning safari-inspired denim—complete with laser zebra prints and zebra embroidery—to pieces decorated with floral laser printing. A grunge line offers hybrid jean jackets, some with built-in hoodies and others spliced together with a nylon bomber. A long denim jacket is embellished with a shearling collar, while jeans are finished with shadow pocketing.

At Magic, OAT underscored the soft hand of its joggers and high-waisted wide-leg jeans with a cloud-like powder blue wash. A reversible jean jacket with blush fleece underscored the brand’s comfort factor. Lola Jeans also opted for a hygge effect with serene colors like cream, brown and teal. Corduroy jackets and wide-leg trousers and a belted jean jacket lined with shearling helped tell the brand’s cozy story for F/W 22-23.

The women’s brands at Magic, however, presented some of the boldest style statements in denim.

Kaftan brand Sama Sitara, which sources its fabrics from India, applied handwoven textiles and beadwork to jean jackets. The Nu Vintage touted mixed-media jean jackets as well, in addition to foil-covered jackets and boyfriend jeans decorated with paint splatter.

Looser fits, finishing details and non-denim companion pieces to jeans trended at Project and Magic last week in Las Vegas.
Magic Rivet

Rhinestones and crystal were also a major theme. Insane Jeans presented roomy Trucker jackets embellished with clear rhinestones alongside star-printed jeans, flare overalls and jeans with turned-down waistbands. Crystal fringe sparkled from the pocket lines of QZ’s jeans and cropped jackets. Vevert showcased jean jackets studded with crystals and pearls, and made with a shimmery, pinstriped fabric.

Other brands continued to explore the ’90s. Hidden Denim offered Dad jeans with hammer loops and cropped jackets with chopped, unfinished hems. Overdyed jeans and tie-dye effects added color to Flying Monkey’s range. Jeans with two different color legs were also highlighted in Flying Monkey’s and Cello’s collections.

Men’s brands

At Project, Bestseller Group-owned Jack & Jones’ F/W 22-23 range covered must-have men’s trends, including preppy varsity jackets and Gorpcore staples like corduroy shirting and plaid shackets made with recycled polyester and heaps of knits.

These seasonal items, however, complement Jack & Jones’ bread and butter: jeans. The brand’s NOOS range—short for “never out of stock”—offers retailers a risk-free way to ensure they always have bestselling jeans available. Once they buy a start box, they can reorder top styles and buy core sizes and colors. NOOS products, which span slim, skinny, joggers and more, account for more than a third of revenue.

The collection is not without its specialty and trend-driven items. The Blue Journey range offers “designed in Italy” jeans made with Candiani Denim fabric. A rep said the brand takes key accounts to the Italian mill for a guided tour to learn more about the denim-making process. For consumers seeking a wider fit, Jack & Jones offers the Loose Chris, a high-rise jean with a loose thigh, knee and leg opening. The style is available in indigo and white, but a bandana laser printed version is a standout.

Los Angeles-based Dead. Than. Cool. lived up to its reputation for statement-making streetwear design. The range of skinny fit men’s jeans was dense with details like abrasions, hand sewn repairs, 3D logo embroideries, high-shine hardware and paint and bleach effects. The F/W 22-23 range offers more colorful tie-dye jeans (teal and rust), bleached denim jackets and jeans and tonal patchwork. Recycled polyester tops offer a more accessible alternative to its 100 percent silk shirts.

Looser fits, finishing details and non-denim companion pieces to jeans trended at Project and Magic last week in Las Vegas.
Dead. Than. Cool. Rivet

Tie-dye is also a strong story for PRPS, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022. Washed-down fabrics with brown, yellow and green tints add visual interest to the brand’s core jean range. Several of the jeans connect back to tops, including graphic tees with a heaven and earth theme for fall.

Additionally, the brand is introducing a collection of jeans and tops with Jimi Hendrix. The collection includes tie-dye graphic tees and jeans decorated with Hendrix-themed newspaper-like prints. PRPS plans to fete the collaboration with an event in the fall.

Dual-gender brands

7 For All Mankind’s women’s assortment spanned jumpsuits, floral-printed co-ords and coated jean.

The brand met the demand for effortless dressing with several one-pieces, including a button-front wide-leg jumpsuit with spaghetti straps, a long-sleeve jumpsuit with Western-inspired details and soft V-neck jumpsuit with puff-sleeve and a self belt—the latter of which is also available as a short dress. Meanwhile, a strapless black-coated denim jumpsuit made a strong case as the cool-girl alternative to a little black dress.

Wide-leg jeans covered with black crystals are 7 For All Mankind’s big ’90s moment, but a range of black-coated pieces including jeans, jackets and a circle skirt gave the collection a downtown edge. To contrast, floral-printed Trucker jackets and matching jeans were accented with sweet scalloped-edge labels.

Looser fits, finishing details and non-denim companion pieces to jeans trended at Project and Magic last week in Las Vegas.
7 For All Mankind Rivet

Black and pale pink wide-leg corduroy trousers with deep cuffs offer an elevated alternative to jeans that skewed towards a ’70s statement.

While its women’s collection included pieces made with recycled hardware, 7 For All Mankind’s men’s range offered the brand’s first biodegradable stretch jeans called EarthKind. Each pair is branded with plantable seed paper labels.

The men’s line also sees the return of the brand’s “A” back pocket detailing on jeans and an emphasis on water-repellent and wrinkle-resistant stretch fabrics used for seamless non-denim bottoms. Slim taper and skinny fits, however, remain core to the brand’s men’s business.

Space exploration may be a popular theme in escapist fashion, but Scotch & Soda is interested in bringing consumers closer to home. The Dutch label imagined what space on Earth would look like in its F/W 22-23 collection. Tops with surreal landscapes are literal examples of the concept, while sunset gradients, utility details and shackets with unexpected color schemes nod to Scotch & Soda’s exploration-inspired story.

Looser fits, finishing details and non-denim companion pieces to jeans trended at Project and Magic last week in Las Vegas.
Scotch & Soda Rivet

Key denim items in the men’s collection include a denim jacket with shearling insets, jeans with Amsterdam-themed embroidery and a denim shacket with a slight shawl lapel. The theme is echoed in the women’s range, where jeans and shirting feature subtle beadwork, shearling jean jackets are cropped and tonal patchwork updates balloon-shaped jeans.

Mavi is the latest denim brand to introduce hemp to its blends, beginning with a men’s workwear jacket and jean. The fabric includes cotton, recycled cotton and 13 percent “brushed” hemp. In general, the brand is ramping up its sustainability efforts and reporting. Along with performing LCAs for products, Mavi will release an updated sustainability report in April.

Other key men’s pieces include new tan and green shackets, which riff on Mavi’s popular women’s version from last spring, and color stretch denim and corduroy bottoms.

Corduroy shackets are a new addition to Mavi’s women’s range for F/W 22-23. The collection also offers a cropped denim shacket with an unfinished hem—a detail that is echoed in the brand’s new faux-leather wide-leg trouser and loose Barcelona jean. Coated joggers and slit-hem jeans are other standout pieces.