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Boyfriends Dazzle, Flares Sizzle at WWD Magic

The boyfriend is back in town — in Las Vegas, at least. Women’s denim brands exhibiting at WWD Magic at the Las Vegas Convention Center Feb. 17-19 said the relaxed, rolled up jean was a favorite with retailers in attendance across the board.

Dear John, the Los Angeles-based denim known for doing a big business with soft jegging style jeans, saw its boyfriend jean and cropped cuts pick up momentum for fall, becoming a mainstay in buyers’ assortments. Sales rep Lauren Grant said, “Our boyfriend jeans are selling like crazy, especially with heavy distressing.”

Likewise, slim boyfriend silhouettes with distressed knee details, whiskering, gaping slashes and tonal patchwork were shaping up to be bestsellers for Hidden, according to the brand’s designer Katie Kim. The boy-meets-girl styles were a natural fit for Hidden, which tells a casual story for Fall ’15 with tomboy Bermuda shorts, capri jeans, boxy button-down denim shirts with a luxurious drape and patchwork tops and dungarees.

Noisy May took the boyfriend fit a step further with its My Boyfriend Concept, a line of soft cotton T-shirts and sweats for women. The brand’s design team was inspired by the idea of borrowing “the perfect T-shirt and swear from your boyfriend, that you just love to wear.”

Overall, Fall ’15 denim collections had a notable relaxed and summery feel, and were spurred on by the sun-kissed Seventies influences which were being featured on New York Fashion Week runways that coincided with the Las Vegas show schedule.

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While skinny jeans remained to be core pieces in buyers’ assortments — cropped, distressed and acid washed skinny jeans were prominent in Flying Monkey’s and Noisy May’s fall lines — brands collectively saw room for flare cuts to nab a piece of the skinny business.

Kim said flares were “picking up” and that buyers were also drawn to Hidden’s “true ’70s blue denim” and other retro-inspired, handcrafted details like stitching and patchwork. Vero Moda, which made its U.S. trade show debut at WWD Magic, tapped into the ’70s patchwork look with a bold shirt jacket accented with layered blocks of denim. Mebon added a more literal ’70s touch with denim shift dresses with bell sleeves and cream lace insets, and Pistola got into the dress action with boxy shift dresses with frayed hems.

According to a Flying Monkey sale rep, the brand’s wide leg flare jeans received a good response at the show. In particular, high waisted flares with simple flap pockets and hand-whiskering details exceeded expectations. The jeans were a blank canvas for more detailed washes, the rep reported. Pale blue washes were popular picks for the U.S.-made brand.

Grant of Dear John agreed, adding, as the demand for straight leg jeans declined at the show, more buyers asked for wider leg flares. “Jeans are either super tight or have a super exaggerated flare,” Grant said, adding that she expects to see more interest in flares as the Seventies trend trickles down to the mass market.

With denim taking on bolder silhouettes, washes and colors are toning down. Grant said dark tones of olive and deep hues of burgundy and navy are trending up. Similarly, prints are becoming subtle. Think dark floral prints and touches of leather or velvet details to add barely-there interest.