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Bluezone: War, Gaming and BDSM Make Their Mark on Denim Trends

As consumers work on defining their “new normal,” denim brands are experimenting as well. 

The myriad of denim trends curated by Monsieur-T creative director Tilmann Wröbel at Bluezone in Munich represent the various moods that ebb and flow through society depending on the latest headlines. On one hand, consumers are eager to let loose after years of being masked up. On the other, geopolitical entanglements like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have consumers (especially Bluezone’s European base) on edge, seeking comfort in familiarity. 

“We don’t really know if we’re back to some kind of normal,” Wröbel said. “Or if this is the normal that we want.”

Denim remains both a reliable part of consumers’ day to day, and a consistent part of designer collections. The so-called democratic fabric has graduated from being a novelty in luxury fashion to a category that designers treat with respect. Wröbel noted how luxury labels like Louis Vuitton are tapping into denim expertise to execute high-quality constructions and timeless washes, while rising fashion stars like Sacai and Diesel creative director Glenn Martens are using the fabric as a canvas for their wildest ideas.

This runway influence is trickling into mainstream fashion and “promises a great future for denim, which we’ve been looking for,” he said.  

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Here, Wröbel describes four themes to watch in the coming seasons.

Slow Mo

Slow Mo is based on a feeling of trying to reclaim your identity in a society that is deeply changed. 

“The focus is on being well than being extraordinary,” Wröbel said. “We see it in art and music—there’s a desperate need for softness and comfort to help soften the blow of frightening times.” 

This mood translates to simple denim made with high-quality fabrics, soft tailoring and staple fits. “Nothing is shouting at you,” he said about the timeless designs that consumers can keep in the closets season after season.

To ensure longer wear, Wröbel said designers should prioritize indigo dye techniques that can achieve deep and authentic effects and sewing techniques that enhance durability

The mending and self-repair trend born during the pandemic is ballooning into large-scale efforts to localize production, he added. Countries that once had a strong footprint in denim, like the U.S. or France, are opening new factories. Communities are relearning sewing techniques. 

“We want to construct our own jeans,” Wröbel said.

FutureRetro

FutureRetro is about revamping “vintage values” garments like a Trucker jacket or a 5-pocket jean with a Gen Z take on traditional embroidery, typography and graphics. 

Wröbel likens the theme to “Vintage 4.0” in that garments aren’t an exact replica of something that already exists. Silhouettes are boxier and wider. Super flat denim fabrics are paired with technical elements like drawstring nylon waistbands. A jean jacket is spliced together with a sateen bomber. Curved piping draws the eye away from traditional seams.  

This hodge-podge approach to design is carried into artwork that combines “traditional cowboy” motifs with collegiate fonts and embroidered images with a rough sketch appearance. 

Pitch Dark

The gaming industry is changing the way consumers perceive color and light. People who spend considerable amounts of time gaming are accustomed to darkness and the effect that light and shadows have in dark environments, Wröbel said.

Geared toward Gen Z, the black-out styles seen in the Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga collection are an example of how tone-on-tone designs and material mixing add dimension to all-black looks. Rick Owens is another designer adding a more tailored look to dark fashion.

It’s good news for makers of black and gray denim. 

“This season we’ve received a lot of new fabrics that have structure,” Wröbel said. “They are thicker and more rugged fabrics, which we see getting popular even for the women’s denim category.” 

Shiny fabrics and sateen weaves are also important. “There’s a battle between shiny and matte but it’s always black,” he added.

Bonkers

Bonkers “doesn’t care” about sustainability. “It’s all about trend,” Wröbel said. “It’s fashion that goes so fast that whatever we talk about today is already done.”

Fetish influences pulled from BDSM, the vibrant ’90s techno scene and the oversized fits that ’90s hip-hop artists put on the map are all sources of inspiration. The result is a trend merging denim with latex, workwear and monochromatic color schemes.

Bonkers also calls for “gender freedom” empowering both men and women to wear Diesel’s low-rise jeans. Kim Kardashian also embodied the trend when she wore a full men’s Prada look to Milan Fashion Week. The theme challenges stereotypes by taking a gender-fluid and ageless approach to sexy fashion, Wröbel said. 

Despite disposable fashion being a taboo topic at denim industry events as of late, the demand for trendy, in-your-face fashion is growing. In fact, Wröbel urged designers to include “at least one or two” unwearable and “totally out of control” pieces to draw attention to the collection on social media and in store windows. 

“Being too simple will not generate any ‘wow’ moments,” he added.