Denim’s new trend cycle was on full display at women’s contemporary apparel trade show Coterie on Monday. The Informa Markets-owned New York City event gathered denim brands showcasing their Fall/Winter 22-23 styles, with a key focus on color and a range of fits. Reflecting the optimism felt throughout the post-Covid denim industry, the collections were rife with standout elements that aim to shake society out of its pandemic haze.
Denim’s current and projected success inspired apparel brands to get involved in the space. The event saw a number of young brands and others that were new to denim, including Los Angeles-based men’s and women’s apparel brand Rails. Best known for its casual tops business, the brand quietly debuted denim in Fall 2021 following customer requests for bottoms to complete their looks. Denim is priced from $168-$218 and features fits such as the Topanga, a distressed, rigid high-rise straight jean; the Sunset, a slim flare with undone hems; and a range of denim midi and mini skirts.
With every denim purchase, the brand donates a portion of proceeds to Water.org, a global nonprofit that supports water access and sanitation.
Australian label Significant Other is another denim newcomer which this season launched a small capsule of denim pieces to complement its “beach to bar” aesthetic. The range includes medium and light wash fabrics made of 100 percent cotton and priced from $266-$332, retail. Though Significant Other is new to the category, it’s making a loud splash with a double waistband mini skirt, a belted mini dress and a cropped denim blazer.
New York City-based label Ser.o.ya, sister brand to contemporary women’s label Retrofete, captured attention with pieces that combine comfort and style. One of its boldest sets featured a terry denim jogger and cropped jacket in a ’90s wash that can accommodate a day in the city or an evening indoors. Other signature looks include a wide leg jean with an elastic waistband and snaps at the cuff to adjust the inseam length—a functional element, as jeans have been evolving from cropped ankle fits to more full-length styles as part of denim’s new cycle.
The young brand, which launched in 2020, introduces two new washes each season. For fall, the palette includes a faded black and washed indigo, both of which underscore the range’s ultra-distressed theme. Raw-edge waistbands, undone hems and strategically placed holes and tears add to its lived-in appeal.
The brand also donates to a different charity at the end of each season, as determined by customer feedback. Past organizations have included Brooklyn-based animal rights group Badass Animal Rescue and the LGBTQ+ nonprofit Trans Can Work.
Flair and flares
“Dopamine dressing” has taken over fashion in recent seasons, and denim has been at its core. Setting the joyful tone was Rivet x Project Awards “Best Women’s Collection” recipient 7 For All Mankind, which featured an “Alice in Wonderland” theme of whimsical and vibrant apparel. Denim in the range spanned relaxed, “easy fits” with a soft handfeel and feminine color palettes. A baby pink corduroy wide leg with exaggerated cuffs connected the fantasy-inspired theme with the rest of its offerings. Corduroy was the material of choice for the brand to display its color story, which consisted of earth tones like olive, taupe, cream and copper.
Bootcuts, flares and joggers swapped places with skinny fits in terms of popularity this season. 7 For All Mankind’s balloon fit jean featuring silver studs all over the front panels was a top hit with buyers, signaling a push for louder bottoms.
Following its former parent company, The Collected Group, filing for bankruptcy last April, Current/Elliott is now a part of Sunrise Brands. Under the new ownership, the brand is on a comeback track with a wide array of fits, including three re-launched bottom styles for fall. Fits include a chino, a mid-rise skinny fit and a new take on the boyfriend jean made with deadstock Japanese and Italian fabrics. The new boyfriend is more relaxed with a cuff for added versatility.
Sustainability was a main focus for premium denim brand DL1961, which in February debuted its first jeans collection made in partnership with Recover, a Spanish tech firm scaling high-quality recycled cotton fibers made from post-consumer textile waste. The brand will continue to develop denim using this fiber throughout the year.
New for fall are two comfort denim fits including the Zoey, a relaxed wide-leg with a slightly lower rise than its bestselling “Hepburn” counterpart, and the Sydney, a high-rise girlfriend jean with a tapered ankle. Elevated details such as polka dot laser finishing and seaming down the middle of the back legs help add flair to core styles.
Knit denim made its debut in DL1961’s women’s collection, with a range of medium browns and dark cocoa soft denim available in high waisted wide-leg and straight-leg fits. After performing well in the men’s and kids’ markets, the material has become a main focus for the brand as consumers call for more comfortable fabrications. In addition to pants, knit denim is used to develop shorts and tops such as corsets.
The ’70s also made a resurgence in its women’s denim collection, with full-length flares and vest and jeans matching sets.
Also going retro is Rivet x Project Awards “Best Trend” recipient Driftwood, which showcased its signature denim embroidered with sunflower, floral and celestial designs reminiscent of the ’60s and ’70s. This season, it expanded upon its core silhouettes with wide-leg and flared denim and matching jackets. Other pieces incorporated winter fabrics like velvet and corduroy, and played with leopard-print and cow-print accents.
Deemed an “affordable eco-friendly blue jeans” brand, Modern American showed off its range of jeans. The brand looks to Mexico for its fabric and manufacturing needs, and uses recycled trims, patches and hangtags as well as eco-friendly wash processes that use recycled water.
With a price tag of $128-$148, the label launched just prior to the pandemic. According to a representative, the young brand prevailed as a result of its association with sister brand Fidelity Denim, which had already garnered a strong following. A key focus for Modern American for the fall was low-rise bootcut and flare fits with subtle embellishments like slant pockets and stitch detailing.
Turkish denim brand Mavi also increased its focus on sustainability for the upcoming season, teasing its first ever sustainability report. While details of the report are still to come, a preview points to water-, chemical- and energy-saving targets the brand is working to accomplish over the next two decades. The dual-gender brand pledges that all denim fabric will be sustainable by 2030, the company will be carbon neutral by 2040 and it will be climate positive by 2050.
For fall, it’s unveiling Indigo Shape fabric, a Tencel blend with high retention that sculpts curves, Flex Blue, a ’90s-inspired range made with organic cotton, and True Blue, which features rigid denim made with organic cotton.
Though L.A.-based denim brand Black Orchid presented a pared-down denim offering for fall and winter, its offerings still included a vast array of opportunities. In the past, the brand offered around 50 fits in about eight different washes each. But after Covid shined a light on quality over quantity, the brand adjusted its offering to 25 fits in three washes each.
The new range featured straight, skinny, boyfriend, wide leg and flare styles in “every inseam imaginable,” from 25 inches to 35 inches. Rises start at 9 inches and end at 12.5 inches.
All of Black Orchid’s fabric is sourced from Italy and washed in L.A. The brand is focused on switching from recycled plastic to biodegradable poly bags in the near future.
Show organizer Informa heralded a strong showing of both new and returning brands in New York.
“The return of COTERIE and MAGIC New York for our second, live in-person event was much welcomed by the fashion community. Our events serve the entirety of the fashion ecosystem, providing an all-encompassing platform from big box and department stores to boutique retailers to discover the latest products and new lines that will excite their customers,” said Kelly Helfman, president of Informa Markets Fashion. “We’ve continued to learn and adapt with what our industry needs in order to create an event that centers around our community. We’re all about discovery, connection, and spotlighting the latest trends, so that brands, both established and emergent, have a voice to promote their product, and retailers are able to ink deals with the hottest new brands across multiple women’s categories spanning from advanced contemporary to trend.”