Fashion trends ebb and flow over time, and in denim, many styles never go out of style. However, the 2010s brought major changes to the global denim industry as genres of fashion crossed lines, new designers stepped forward and consumers sought healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.
Here, Eda Dikmen, Soorty’s marketing and communications manager for fabrics, shares four trends that shaped denim in the 2010s, ultimately making jeans more accessible to buy and more comfortable to wear.
An aftershock of the Great Recession in 2008, high-low fashion continued to be a force behind individualistic style in the 2010s. And fast fashion retailers got into the game by teaming up with high-end designers for low cost collaborations.
In the 2010s, H&M adopted Karl Lagerfeld’s French girl-meets-rocker aesthetic, Moschino’s wit, Balmain’s military vibes and Versace’s sex appeal through various collaborations. Also this year, mass retailer Target reissued its collections with Missoni, Jason Wu, Anna Sui and more to mark the 20th anniversary of its designer collaborations.
For the average consumer browsing through magazines, “Versace, Missoni, Karl Lagerfeld, Lanvin, Marni, Isabel Marant, Balmain and Moschino were once only a dream,” Dikmen said.
Through these collaborations with fast fashion retailers, a wider audience was able to access the designer brands’ signature prints, accessories and styles. “For the first time ever, through the power of partnerships and collaborations with brands that are more accessible to the common shopper, [designer brands] have entered many households they could not before,” she said.
Consumers also warmed up to old clothes in a big way.
Thanks to brands like Re/Done and Atelier & Repairs, and their collaborations with household names like Levi’s and Gap, old denim and deadstock fabrics became new again. Resale ballooned into a business to watch and toward the end of the decade, tastemakers like Virgil Abloh began touting vintage as the next status symbol.
And you can’t talk about collaborations without mentioning how partnerships helped propel streetwear into the mainstream in the 2010s. Brands like Supreme and Kith have each teamed up with Levi’s for limited edition pieces. The decade also showed how, sometimes, the more off-beat the collaboration, the better. Off-White creative director Virgil Abloh put his stamp on everything from Evian water bottles to Ikea furniture, and Vetements’ collaboration with DHL may go down as one of the most memorable fashion moments in 2016.
Double denim was another key look Dikmen said defined denim in the 2010s.
“Classic Americana lovers, cowboys and country enthusiasts have been wearing denim-on-denim forever, but this trend definitely became normal at the mass market level in early 2010s,” she said.
Vintage inspiration and going back to the originals was a key takeaway from the 2010s. “Patchwork, heritage and handcrafted pieces gained momentum every now and then,” Dikmen said. In the future, she’d like to see designers continue to be inspired by vintage denim, but recreate the authentic styles with more responsible manufacturing methods.
“Over the past decades classic American clothing brands like Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler have been the authority in denim,” Dikmen said. “But that changed in the mid-2000s, speeding up in 2010s with a new wave of consumers who started looking for something else.”
While it started with accessibility and affordability, Dikmen said consumers’ desire for new brands evolved with their demand for comfort, lifestyle and statement fashion. Brands like A.P.C., she said, positioned themselves as desirable by offering “truly artisanal pieces” at “seriously high prices.” A.P.C.’s Petit Standard is a perfect example, she added. The Japanese raw denim has the feeling of high-quality and the look of timeless design.
Other denim head brands rose up the ranks in the 2010s. Heritage brands like Edwin, Dikmen said, “strongly and consistently survived the turbulent peaks and troughs in the era of fast fashion.” And Denham, which was founded by Jason Denham just a couple of years before the 2010s, showed momentum thanks to its “big dedication of producing high quality products,” she said.
Many of the decade’s fashion trends placed an emphasis on comfort, well-being and performance.
“One of the biggest game changers was the magnificent fallout of athleisure. Both streetwear and sportswear found themselves right in the middle of the denim scene…,” Dikmen said.
Athleisure forced denim brands to reconsider styling, fabric development, composition and the comfort level of jeans, she explained. These factors even carried into the types of trims and finishes brands applied to their denim collections.
The athleisure trend, Dikmen added, reflected consumers’ overall need for “self-care and the desire to fight against the stress that comes along with our everyday routines.” Consumers, she said, wanted to build a better version of themselves in the 2010s and that forced denim to step out of its comfort zone.