“[Denim] is solidifying its place in the market,” said Manon Mangin, Denim Première Vision’s head of fashion products.
Though the denim sector is finding its groove again, it is also cautious of putting all of its eggs into one basket like it did a decade ago when most of the industry relied on the sales of super stretch skinny jean to keep the lights on.
At Denim Première Vision in Milan on Wednesday—its first physical event in nearly two years— Mangin outlined three key themes sweeping over the denim fabric and garment sectors.
The Spring/Summer 2023 season marks a “turning point” for a denim industry developing into new hybrid concepts and unexpected varieties, Mangin said. Surprising textile combinations and “unusual behaviors” allow the fabric to extend beyond its original characteristics. The season is also focused on sensation as mills enhance fabrics with tactile density, supple softness and fluidness, she added.
In Urban Denim, the category spins style cues from utilitarian workwear into durable everyday fashion.
Here, hemp blends take shape, thanks in part to the fiber’s innate strength. Classic denim fabrics made with organic cotton and strong 3×1 constructions speak to consumer demand for functional fashion, Mangin said. Complex weaves and jacquards with dense yarns add tactile appeal. Jackets—with multi-patch pockets and seams that define the garment—are a key item for the season, but they’re not as rigid as the bottoms, she said. Waterproof finishing enhances the city-friendly theme.
Urban Denim is also home to sleeker ways to deconstruct denim. Jeans with strategic cutouts emphasize the pattern-making stage of the garment process. Sustainable patchwork—either made from scrap fabrics or new cloth made from recycled fibers—is clean and considered with some forming a harmonious color combination.
Sustainability, in general, is central to the modern theme. Denim made with recycled cotton, linen, hemp, Tencel and organic cotton and combined with energy- and water-saving finishing technologies is the new norm. A growing number of fabrics made with just one fiber, however, reveals how mills are working to make the recycling process easier at the garment’s end of life.
Denim Première Vision’s second theme, Denim Offshoots, derives from consumers’ unwavering need for comfort. The theme, Mangin said, is where fashion is “relaxing, free and liberated” and strongly nods toward sportswear.
This demand for comfort and well-being is driving mills to grow their knit denim assortments. “Non-restricting” knit denim items for S/S ’23 include tracksuits, joggers and shorts as well as sharp-looking blazers.
“It’s something that is very relaxed, that you can wear at home or outside,” Mangin said.
Reconnecting with nature became a pandemic hobby for many, and this trend is filtering into fashion in various ways. Fabrics with aquatic-like prints and wavy surfaces bring a calming sensation to denim. Mineral effects and nature-derived dyes help ground collections. Subtle floral laser prints appear to have faded over time. The vintage-inspired motif will be especially important for denim-based “city bras” or bustier tops, Mangin said.
Efforts to feel better in jeans are behind spa-inspired denim. Viscose blends give a peach-skin feel to fabrics, while airy robes and kimono-inspired jackets made with lyocell and modal blends are emerging as key products for the season, she said.
The third trend story, Enhanced Denim, embraces all levels of fantasy from sophisticated hints of shine to “an all-out extravagance.”
“Every detail counts in this story,” Mangin said.
Graphic jacquards with organic and abstract motifs are a popular theme. Tonal colors, camouflage effects and loose yarns give the 100 percent cotton fabrics volume on the surface, she said. Tonal organza placed on waistbands and back pockets adds subtle shimmer to denim. Other styles, like a button-down shirt with organza inserts on the bodice and sleeves, reveal a hint of skin. “It has a couture spirit,” Mangin added.
Rampant Y2K influences appeal to Gen Z and younger consumers. Ultra-feminine details—from sequins, heart-shaped crystals and shiny fabrics to bold uses of pink and animal prints—lend themselves to up and coming demographics. The key, Mangin said, is to find accessories and trims that can be easily removed for recycling.