Skinny jeans are not dead—in fact, they’re fueling denim’s projected growth through 2030.
Research firm Allied Market Research estimated that the denim industry will grow to $88.1 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2 percent. While the body-hugging fit segment held the highest market share in 2020, skinny jeans are projected to achieve the highest CAGR of all fit types from 2021 to 2030, growing at a rate of 6 percent in that time.
The news underscores the continuous debate positioning skinny jeans against other fit types. In March, the NPD Group published data showing that straight-leg jeans were the top-selling fit among women in the U.S., dethroning the skinny jean, which was the only jeans style to experience a revenue decline in 2021 from 2019. It also found that straight-leg styles accounted for one-third, or $3.3 billion, of women’s jeans market revenue in 2021, followed by flare and boot-cut jeans in the women’s market.
Other reports backed the NPD Group’s findings, with retail intelligence platform Edited advising retailers to mark down skinny jeans and jeggings during the 2021 holiday season.
Still, the skinny jean was a top-selling silhouette for decades, and as such will likely not go down without a fight. In late 2021, as trend forecasters touted the skinny jeans’ demise, retail analytics platform StyleSage reported that skinny jeans remained the most popular silhouette by a landslide, representing 3.5 times as many searches as straight fits.
Keeping the skinny jean in bestsellers’ lists are new innovations that optimize fit and comfort. Recently, a number of brands have debuted one-size-fits-many jean, including Silver Jeans Co.’s Infinite Fit jean made with fabric that has 90 percent elasticity, allowing for one size to fit up to four waist sizes. Before that, Good American, known for its size-inclusive skinny jeans, worked with Turkish mill Calik Denim to create Always Fits denim, a high-rise skinny jean available in five size categories ranging from 00 to 32+ with 100 percent stretchability. NYDJ also introduced SpanSpring, a line of skinny jeans that stretch to fit three sizes, and J Brand introduced Limitless Stretch, which expands to twice its size and retracts without any sagging.
Fit aside, denim is also being propelled forward by the men’s category. Allied Market Research found that the men’s segment accounted for the largest share in 2020, making up almost half of the global jeans sector. It’s projected to keep the lead position through 2030 thanks to a recent crop of men’s denim campaigns from brands like Wrangler, which put out a collection in partnership with Paramount Network’s hit series “Yellowstone,” as well as Hudson, which partnered with Brandon Williams, stylist to a number of NBA, MBL and NFL athletes, on a special capsule collection for men.
The birthplace of jeans, North America is naturally driving the denim industry’s growth. The report found that the market had the highest market share in terms of revenue in 2020, accounting for almost two-fifths of the market. This Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow at a rate of 6.2 percent through 2030 as a result of a rise in the number of working women, rapid urbanization and increase in westernization of lifestyles.