It will take years to understand the long-term effects the pandemic will have on the denim industry.
Though more than 2 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered worldwide, new variants and second and third waves of the coronavirus continue to wreak havoc on parts of the supply chain. The latest earnings calls from fashion brands and retailers brimmed with optimism, but the U.S. unemployment rate has seen little change, a factor that will likely weigh heavily on discretionary spending. And the full scope of how brands and consumers will respond to topics that came to a head during the pandemic, like the environment, equality, and racial injustice, has yet to be seen in a coronavirus-free world.
The unprecedented events of the last 18 months, however, are having an immediate impact on the ways denim mills and trim suppliers are executing their Fall/Winter 22-23 collections.
The 2020 Marie Kondo-ing of closets—along with pandemic hobbies like upcycling and thrifting—has helped catapult durability and circularity into qualities that are sought-after by millennial and Gen Z consumers. The roll-out of collections based on the Ellen MacArthur Jeans Redesign guidelines for circular denim has only amplified this awareness. From trims that are easily removable for recycling, to cotton-rich denim and blends that utilize the strength of hemp fibers, the industry is taking steps to keep wearable garments in rotation for longer.
If produced responsibly, a garment at the end of its lifecycle is merely on the cusp of starting a new journey. Mills are ramping up their efforts to recycle pre- and post-consumer waste into new fabrics, enabling brands to offer collections that require less water, dyestuff and chemicals compared to jeans made entirely from virgin materials.
While communication between suppliers and denim brands continues to take place largely over digital platforms, and consumers’ fondness for online shopping only deepened during the pandemic, the industry has not lost sight of the tactile nature of denim. Evident in the growing number of cozy and soft fabric collections, mills have fine-tuned their fiber blends and constructions to satisfy consumers’ unwavering demand for comfortable jeans. They’ve worked to maintain the oft-touted “authentic look” of denim, while enhancing it with smooth and silky handles and comfort stretch.
In other words, denim has not ceded to loungewear or to the now antiquated notion that it is a “dirty business.” Denim, in fact, is returning with a vengeance and a whole new look to match. The trend toward looser fits is not only giving skinny jean-wearing consumers a reason to stock up on new styles, but its also creating new opportunities for designers to experiment with fabrics that have landed outside their skinny jean toolbox for the past decade.
Showcasing more than 100 products from 27 different companies, this Fall/Winter 22-23 In Season look book, made possible with the support of Cotton Incorporated, will help arm designers with the fabrics, trims and insight they need to know for denim’s hotly anticipated comeback.
Within the F/W 22-23 In Season look book, viewers will gain insight into:
- How mills are approaching sustainability targets in both the short and long term
- The post-Covid denim look, and why Cotton Incorporated expects a return to traditional denim hues and somber neutrals
- How the demand for looser fits and work-friendly styles has ushered in opportunities for mills to offer heavier weights and more authentic constructions.
- Results from two consumer studies from Cotton Incorporated, and what that means for materials like cotton, spandex and polyester in denim’s future
- The evolution of trims companies like YKK, Cadica Group and Dorlet from one-time reliance on leather and harsh chemicals to more sustainable, natural ingredients