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Report: Denim is Stronger Than Ever at Retail

Denim is alive and well, despite recent murmurs to the contrary, according to a report by retail analytics company Edited.

The firm tracked jeans sales over the last three years from 25 women’s retailers*. The data collected showed that the release of new denim styles has steadily increased over the years. There was an 8.6 percent increase in new denim arrivals in Q1 ’16 compared to Q1 ’15; that was a 21 percent increase from Q1 ’14 and a 78 percent increase from Q1 ’13.

Edited also showed that leggings are not a great threat to denim, though the media has been painting the athleisure category as denim’s undoing. Leggings have grown 58 percent since Q1 ’13, which still puts leggings at 20 percent lower growth than denim.

In terms of what specific denim styles did well in Q1 2016, Edited showed that skinny jeans have continued to dominate, despite the media’s declarations that they were dead. Skinnies made up 40 percent of currently stocked denim, which was down three percent from Q1 2014. Slim cut jeans were also down from 2014, by 7.5 percent. On the other hand, flares and wide cuts are gaining popularity, growing by 7.3 percent.

Outside of jeans, Edited also took a look at other denim styles. The data company used the growth in total online offerings of the retailers as the average “inflation rate.” The rate was 17.7 percent, suggesting that anything that fell outside of this average conveyed significant change. Denim shirts were down 4.3 percent, while denim shorts, dresses and jackets all grew, but at a lower rate than overall e-commerce. On the other hand, skirts were up 24.3 percent and dungarees were up 33 percent.

Drawing summaries from its data, Edited took a guess as to why the press has declared the death of denim even though the data does not follow. The company found that retailers have shifted the emphasis away from denim on their homepages. In the last month (April 4-May 4, 2016), “jeans” were mentioned 25 percent less on homepages, and “denim” was down 21 percent. Edited surmised that retailers lost confidence in pushing denim, perhaps swayed by the press.

*ASOS, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Boohoo, Debenhams, Farfetch, Forever21, Gap, H&M, House of Fraser, J.Crew, John Lewis, Mango, Neiman Marcus, Net-a-Porter, Next, Nordstrom, River Island, Ssense, Saks Fifth Avenue, Selfridges, Topshop, Zalando, Zappos and Zara.