At Liberty West, a diverse group of brands make its way to Downtown Los Angeles for Liberty Fairs‘ first-ever West Coast trade show, with a notably strong showing from denim. A check-in with labels at the show demonstrate how progressive brands are working to bring consumers newness, evolving silhouettes, new washes and a singular attention to detail.
Hiroshi Kato cuts and sews imported Japanese fabric in Los Angeles, according to Nick Takayuki Noguchi, who serves as the designer for the men’s selvedge denim brand.
The premium label’s most popular fit is its slim-straight silhouette, which continues to resonate due to its easy-wearing, mid-rise cut with reasonably roomy legs while a slim-taper silhouette featuring a slightly higher rise and coming in at the ankle has seen growing interest too, he added.
While Hiroshi Kato specializes in raw selvedge denim, washed jeans with four-way stretch are now generating substantial sales as the industry emerges from the pandemic, Noguchi said. The Spring/Summer 2022 line will feature lighter washes and more “bleach-out” details, keying into an appetite for vintage styling and worn-in fits. A roomier straight-leg style will also appear next spring in response to consumer demand for heritage styling, he said.
Blair Kershaw launched his first line of unisex apparel, Harri Penny (named for his hometown of Harrison, Pa.), during the darkest days of the pandemic, when he was looking for a productive hobby. “I bought a sewing machine last June and learned to sew,” the former DJ told Rivet. “This line is the product of that.”
Entitled “Face the World,” the designer’s Spring 2022 line consists of workwear-inspired ready-to-wear styles constructed mostly from denim. Because denim is a universal staple in any wardrobe, the designer sought to create comfortable, practical silhouettes to give wearers the confidence to take on life post-pandemic.
But Harri Penny’s designs are anything but basic, rife with patterns and color-blocking, along with unexpected design details. A floral-printed denim zip-up pullover is complemented by matching double-fronted pants. Most trouser styles feature patches in complementary hues, while the L.A-sourced fabrics vary in weight and texture. Despite the yearning for comfort and familiarity, Kershaw believes now is the moment for a line like his.
“I feel like people coming out of Covid are trying to find their style again, because they’ve been stuck in the house so long,” he said.
The brainchild of Pakistan-based vertical denim manufacturer Artistic Milliners, Rising Sun’s line of men’s and women’s denim is cut and sewn at its Santa Ana, Calif. facility. The brand also launders its denim at Star Fades International, Artistic Milliners’ Commerce, Calif. water-saving laundry, which was acquired in January.
According to operations lead Allan Burdine, the brand was built on a foundation of timeless heritage styling. Workwear staples like canvas jackets, blacksmith jeans and straight-leg silhouettes made from selvedge denim are some of the line’s most popular looks though Rising Sun has expanded to more contemporary stretch fabrications and contemporary cuts in recent seasons, he said. Sold by retailers like Nordstrom and Stitch Fix along with the brand’s own e-commerce site, Made in California label also features a line of jeans made from upcycled cutting room scraps, which are re-spun into new, usable fibers.
While women’s styles are skewing wider in the leg, men are still gravitating toward slimmer silhouettes that can take them from work to weekend, according to Burdine. Across the Midwest, Rising Sun’s boot-cut styles have been popular, however, and the brand has launched new silhouettes to service the growing demand.
Serge Bueno did not have denim in mind when he first launched his vintage motorbike workshop, Heroes Motors, on L.A.’s La Brea Ave. But he was enamored of the classic vehicles, and ultimately sought to build a full lifestyle brand to complement their aesthetic.
The Heroes Motors denim label, which launched in 2020 under the purview of Joie, Current Elliot, NYDJ and Equipment owner Sunrise Brands, puts a new spin on old-school styling. “Welcome back to selvedge, welcome back to a vintage look—it’s all about the visual interest,” said Heroes Motors’ design director Johann Jarmoune. The line’s denim is awash with distressing, paint splatters, shiny waxing, patchwork and other rugged and eye-catching design flourishes. Complemented by a range of denim jackets, vests, T-shirts and pullovers replete with vintage patches, embroidery and screen prints, the line is an Americana-lover’s dream come true.
The brand imports the denim for its premium line of $190-$720 styles from mills in Turkey and Italy, president Stephen Budd added, noting that the pieces are cut, sewn and laundered in L.A. A diffusion line of jeans made from stretch fabrications is produced in Hong Kong and sold for under $200. The slim straight, and the skinny are the two best-selling men’s styles, according to Budd. However, he believes that while male consumers are interested in trying out new washes, they aren’t yet ready to deviate from their favorite silhouettes.
Heroes Motors is sold at a Malibu flagship, in addition to a New York City store, and through its e-commerce site.
Move over, skinny jeans. Carrot-shaped tapered silhouettes and balloon-like wide-leg trousers have entered the chat.
That’s according to Edwin USA, the denim line exclusively produced at sustainable L.A. denim manufacturer Saitex USA. The label acts as a testing ground for the manufacturer’s newest production innovations, like fabrics crafted at its newly-opened Vietnam mill, brand spokesperson Rachel Eiban told Rivet. Edwin USA also plays with inventive, cutting-edge styling inspired by heritage denim as well as contemporary trends.
While consumers are heading back to retail and looking for new, eye-catching styles to pique their interest, comfort is a priority that stands to persist beyond the pandemic, Eiban said. For that reason, Edwin USA is skipping skinnies and rolling out roomier styles that make the transition away from sweats and athleisure a little less intimidating. While the brand’s women’s styles mostly feature wide legs, the hero carrot-shaped silhouette is characterized by a high waist and tapering at the ankle for a flattering, feminine aesthetic.
When it comes to men’s, however, slim and tapered styles in stretch and selvedge fabrications still reign supreme, Eiban said, giving both consumers versatility and practicality.
Australia-born women’s lifestyle brand Thrills evinced a laid-back, beachy vibe familiar to California consumers. According to sales representative Erin Benjamins, oversized, baggy, “dad-fit” jeans stand to become the pinnacle of cool on both sides of the globe.
“High-waisted, loose-hip, baggy leg and full-length” are the qualities that define the line’s range of denim, which mostly comes in lighter washes. While spring-ready frocks, tops and athleisure dominate the womenswear line, denim is the company’s “top category,” and one that’s been growing consistently season after season, Benjamins said.
Trends toward vintage styling have aligned with a desire for baggy fits after a year spent in leggings and sweats, she added. “’90s grunge is something we’re really looking at right now,” characterized by oversized fits for jeans, denim jackets and T-shirts, Benjamins said. Sold at Free People, American Rag and Fred Segal, along with its own e-commerce site, Thrills said its new line retails for $80-$150.