Project New York returned to Manhattan Jan. 24-25 at Iron23 with a “full fashion experience” for attendees, highlighting emerging designers in a non-conventional way. But one thing remained true: denim was a must-show for these brands.
Here’s what was happening in the men’s denim market at the trade show.
Gilded Age experiments with a few new washes every season in addition to the bestsellers that it carries over. For Fall/Winter 2023-2024 it’s showing everything from classic ‘80s styling and vintage-inspired denim to darker washes with a worn-in, whiskered look.
“We’re still doing our straight leg, which is our best-selling fit. But based on the women’s trend with the wide leg, we’re doing some stovepipes for men as well,” said Rob Vonderheide, sales director for the New York City brand. “The Gotham [style] has a 17-inch leg opening at the bottom, so we’re doing some wider, more straight-leg stovepipe styles.”
But Vonderheide points out that Gilded Age is not a trend-follower and has a collection that appeals to everyone. And from a sustainability standpoint, he said that Gilded Age contributes by not putting out a big collection each season, therefore not wasting samples.
“You know people are saying skinny jeans aren’t really selling, but I disagree,” he said. “We cater to a lot of different body types. So skinny jeans may not be as strong as they were, but we’re selling jeans that are slimmer every day. Yes, straighter leg and wider leg are coming back, but we’re still selling slimmer leg, too.”
Jack & Jones was also trending with slimmer fits. Gray has been the No. 1 wash this season, overpowering the tried-and-true indigo.
“Some of the biggest trends that we have seen that we’re aligning with right now are kind of some very competitive price points with rip and repair,” said Charles Anderson, key account manager at Jack & Jones. “Heavy detail, heavy washing, backing and it will be made in sustainable stretch.”
Anderson says the brand can keep its prices competitive while remaining sustainable by leveraging the suppliers of its parent company, Bestseller, which has 3,000 branded retail stores in 32 countries and more than 20 fashion brands under its umbrella. Jack & Jones already utilizes recycled yarns and is partnering with European recycled yarn manufacturers to reintroduce its jeans back into the denim ecosystem.
And sustainability is a way of life over at Nudie Jeans.
“Sustainability has been a day one [thing] for us; we don’t talk about it that much, we just do it,” said Jack Leonard, wholesale account manager of Nudie Jeans. “What sustainability means to us, to the world, has evolved so much. It’s evolved from organic cotton to transparency to water use to sourcing, paying living wages to our factory workers. All these things we do quietly, it’s our DNA.”
Leonard also said that Nudie would rather be driving trends than following them. That said, the brand is leaning into its bread and butter: the classic slim-straight.
“But a lot of what we’re focusing on for the last couple of seasons into now is the wider leg,” Leonard said. “We have this wider leg [that’s] really popular in vintage-looking washes.”
As expected, the painted-on skinny was trending down for Nudie. The super-skinny fit is seeing a dip, but Leonard added that there will always be a market for black skinny jeans.
“We joke that all the cool kids downtown that are into supper baggies, but when they see more of like the commercial market come around to that maybe in the next two years, everyone in Dimes Square is going to be in total skinnies,” he said.