If Levi’s $8-billion IPO is any indication, denim is in the midst of a comeback.
The recent shift toward athleisure and casualization upended the denim market but there’ll always be a place in consumer closets for classics like jean jackets and a great-fitting pair of jeans. In fact, in its U.S. Holiday 2018 report, Coresight Research noted that “denim is fashionable again and comfortable,” and key to helping consumers express their unique personal style.
Denim looks are all over the fashion crowd at fashion weeks worldwide, as jean jackets play a big role in streetwear and street style. According to Kayla Marci, market analyst for retail analytics firm Edited, American women are taking to denim outerwear, snapping up oversized silhouettes and jackets in eye-catching colors. Monki promoted a lilac jeans-and-jacket set last month for a colorblocked look, Edited found.
Head-to-toe denim appeals to a certain customer, it seems. Marci said sales of denim coveralls show no sign of slowing down as the utilitarian workwear trend hangs around a bit longer.
“Utility continues to be a strong runway trend, so we can expect to see boilersuits trending for another season,” she said. “In just the past three months, there has been a 160 percent increase in the number of new denim boilersuits arriving in the market.” H&M promoted an affordable coverall look in February.
As denim recovers from the athleisure interruption, consumers seem to be bringing denim into their wardrobes in new ways. While premium designer jeans fell off from their circa 2000 heyday of commanding $200 to $300 price tags, to an average selling price of $32 in 2018, per Euromonitor data, the overall market for jeans called for low-single-digit growth last year versus a 1.8 percent dip for high-end bottoms.
That’s not to say pricey denim doesn’t have an audience. Paperbag waist-jeans and roomy silhouettes like wide-leg and flare-leg denim have been successful with well-heeled shoppers, according to Marci, who expects these trends to “trickle down to fast fashion retailers.”
In the men’s market, shoppers have been responding to bombers and dark washes. Plus, subtlety is out. Distressed jeans are losing traction as “destroyed styles with extreme rips” have been performing well for mass-market retailers like Zara, Hollister and H&M. Skinnies remain the “bread and butter” for men’s denim retailers, composing 25 percent of new styles carried by mass-market merchants, Edited’s data shows. However, Levi’s and H&M have been successful in selling wide-leg styles.
With festival season on the horizon, brands are gearing up to position their products in front of shoppers on the hunt for Instagrammable looks. Calvin Klein, for one, is offering free Coachella tickets on its homepage and in its newsletter, paired alongside a festival edit, Marci pointed out. It’s promoting styles like distressed denim along with standard festival fare like aviator shades, fanny packs, bandanas—“and even underwear,” she added.