Technology, evolving gender codes and changing consumer habits are influencing new directions for Fall/Winter 20-21 denim.
This week, under the theme “All Related,” Bluezone in Munich, Germany showcased how these shifts are connected to denim and what it means for the supply chain in a trend concept curated by denim consultancy group Monsieur T. The concept also included showpieces made in collaboration with exhibitors at the trade show.
Here, Monsieur T founder Tilmann Wröbel shares eight themes for the new season with an emphasis on creativity, collaboration and the new consumer.
Fashion, Wröbel said, has slowly migrated from gender neutral to Gender Freedom, an approach to denim that allows men and women to wear jeans for both genders interchangeably.
“How can we address this new direction of men wearing women’s jeans and women wearing men’s jeans,” he said, adding, “And how can you think about it in a chic way?”
The trend is a balance between male and female. Closed weaves and shirting and dress fabric in 3- to 6-ounce weights are the core fabrications. Meanwhile, denim anoraks, button-down shirts, tunic tops and classic straight fit jeans are among the versatile silhouettes. Trims play with gender too, contrasting labels made with feminine shades of lilac and pink with traditional brown leather and hardware with matte finishes.
More than ever, consumers view garments as a statement piece for what they stand for. In Text Me, denim takes a literal approach, serving as a billboard for handwritten, printed, painted, woven or embroidered words.
The text can be personal, abstract, positive or deliver a political message. And the execution of the garment can be as varied as the message. The trend translates to a myriad of silhouettes, including slim and baggy fits, jean jackets and cut-off shorts with light, medium or dark washes. Trims like back patches also get the text treatment with repeated patterns.
There’s a gap between ready-to-wear and denim, Wröbel said. However, both sectors of the fashion business can benefit if they each took style cues from the other.
“We’d like to see ready-to-wear and denim come together. Garments that are denim, but look like denim, or non-denim items that are inspired by denim,” he added.
In Denim Borderline, two- and four-way stretch fabrications are essential for comfort and ease. And denim with a non-denim appearance are key. Look for examples with wool, cashmere and other ready-to-wear blends.
Trims also take on a ready-to-wear appearance, abandoning the heritage look of leather and copper for shiny silver hardware, water color hangtags and labels with rosy hued metallic.
The denim sector has abandoned the rock ‘n’ roll look in recent season for streetwear and wide jeans, but Wröbel said there’s still a customer for the aggressive look. Black denim, slim fits and stretch fabrications live here, alongside bruised effects, novelty destruction and “beer-dirty” washes.
Classic rocker motifs, like stars and skulls appliqués drive home the point, while stripes achieved through laser offer a wearable yet cool vibe. Black and white trims, silver and gold hardware animal print zipper tapes and black leather labels add a glam rock look.
And it’s a trend that is coming from the designer market with labels like Balmain and Dsquared maintaining their loyalty to skinny and destroyed jeans—often with glammed-up trims made with metal, pearls and crystals. Through this luxury lens, designers can toy with the idea of denim becoming a fixture on the red carpet—which was exemplified by a grommet-covered gown made with lightweight Evlox denim.
Stores are consumed with supersized sneakers and active wear, but change is coming.
“We have a gut feeling that it’s going to be sartorial,” Wröbel said. “But we don’t want to go back to basic suits. We want more angular shapes and oversized fits.”
In Sartorial Angular, the consumer takes “a journey to tailor-made denim” or where “tradition meets the future.” Flat finished denim fabrics, reactive dye denims and fabrics made with tight weaves are key for suiting. Lightweight fabrics are essential, but they should be able to maintain shape for a polished aesthetic.
Trims lean toward the classical side with herringbone taping, plaid-embellished buttons and brown leather back patches with simple lettering.
The denim industry is a mature industry, yet it is addressing a young market with its own “beauty codes,” especially when it comes to design and denim.
“Generation Z likes what we hate. They like what we think is awkward,” Wröbel said, urging the supply chain to think with a young mentality.
In Juvenile Awkward, youthful designs that elders would otherwise deem “awkward” are celebrated. Simple open-end weaves and no stretch fabrications are the canvas for re-constructed silhouettes and statement-making embellishments. Latex-like coatings and digital-inspired textures and prints add interest.
And trims are a punctuation mark to garments. Look for statement-pieces like neon zipper tape, 3D sorbet-hued back patches and Pop Art-inspired graphics.
The theme Long Lasting shines a spotlight on workwear-inspired designs. However, rather than dwell on heritage designs, the theme emphasizes the importance of making long lasting garments to help eliminate overconsumption. In this trend, Wröbel urged brands to think about long-lasting durability and design, so “in the end the garment can be worn for multiple seasons and resist against rip and tear.”
Fibers like Cordura add strength, while novelty weaves can prevent against rips and tears. Strategically placed seams help reinforce heavy wear and tear areas. Gusseted or oversized patch pockets provide functionality. Meanwhile, trims have a hearty hand feel with an emphasis on chunky zipper pulls and recycled leather back patches.
In Urban Zulu, tribal and African accents are recreated for an urban environment.
“We have tribal influences in ready-to-wear and we think there are opportunities to apply this to denim,” Wröbel said. “We need some wild stuff to get us out of this 5-pocket way of thinking.”
The trend calls products that have a handcrafted and artisan feel like hand-painted denim or jeans with handmade woven qualities. Splashes of vibrant colors added a youthful spin on the tribal look, while voluminous or draped silhouettes offer sophistication.