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Capsule New York: Women’s Denim Gets its Groove Back

Influence from the ’70s continued to dominate the denim offerings at Capsule New York (Sept. 17-19) where flares, jumpsuits, patches and embroidery could be seen across the showroom floor.

Öhlin/D took a fun approach to ’70s dressing, combining classic designs from the era with playful elements, including pieces made from Peruvian denim. Garments like cropped jackets featured distinct wide collars and utility pockets, along with embroidered and beaded patches and contrasting denim washes.

Seafarer similarly incorporated lighthearted motifs into its take on the decade. The brand, the original supplier of US Navy uniforms and the bell-bottom pant, became a cult favorite in the 1970s and continues to specialize in flared silhouettes. For Spring ’16, the brand drew inspiration from an archival mid-rise bell-bottom—a style that is featured in its Syrena Design capsule collection. The bottom is available with all-over crochet detail, denim appliqué patches or hand-painted drawings.


Samantha Pleet took a humorous, feminine approach in her line, featuring flirty silhouettes and pastel colors. Pleet said that she was looking to make denim that fit well and the ’70s styles like the wide-leg, high-waisted flares she was showing tend to be more forgiving.

A standout in the collection was a two-piece set with a denim crop top and high-waisted shorts, detailed with layers of pink, lavender and brown piping. The collection featured a window motif that appeared on chest pockets, pants and as cutouts on dresses. A pair of wide-leg overalls had a series of embroidered windows on the bib. “It’s like a haunted house in the ’70s,” Pleet said.

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As designers looked to the ’70s, many found inspiration in vintage materials. For example, Assembly used found denim patchwork pieces to create looks based off designs from existing styles. The brand updated a simple pant with a wider leg and designed it in denim. Another notable style was a reinterpreted denim shift dress that is currently in stores in a wool fabrication. Details like oversized rivets and frayed edges were an additional nod to the decade.


The brand 5-Knot also used vintage materials, in combination with Japanese selvedge. For spring, 5-Knot showed pants made from a combination of the dark selvedge material contrasted with sections of lighter vintage denim. This season, the brand is working with a silhouette with a wider leg and cropped lengths.

Wenqi Wu offered items that mixed strong vintage influences with modern elements. Wu designs denim with classic ’70s silhouettes like midi-length skirts, western shirts and jumpsuits with design details like decorative brown stitching. The clothing had a simultaneously clean, modern feel, demonstrating the inspiration Wu found in the artistic movement of Purism and the architectural lines of painter Amédée Ozenfant and architect Le Corbusier.

Wenqi Wu

First Rite also had a modern take with minimalist designs executed in Tencel for a sleeker, more lightweight approach to denim. The line featured a loose crop top with high-waisted flares and a wide-leg, cropped jumpsuit.