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The Denim Shapes and Silhouettes of Spring/Summer 2020

Denim is not separate from fashion, as any recent catwalk will show. Stella McCartney, Proenza Schouler and Balmain are among the designer collections dense with denim.

And despite the industry’s common gripes about sameness and lack of creativity, denim has been an early adopter of genderless, one-size clothing built for versatility. The silhouettes on deck for Spring/Summer 2020 take this aesthetic one step further.

Echoing the Spring/Summer 2020 forecast by Denim Première Vision’s fashion team, Lucia Rosin, head of design at Meidea, an Italy-based design consultancy group, described the key silhouettes that will help bring personalization, laid back comfort, performance and sustainability to fruition in wearable, yet boundary-pushing style.


Based on fabrics with an airy and breezy feel, Rosin said Discover calls for “leisure lightness” like relaxed shapes, fluid drapes and a casual dress code that is timeless and clean. As society embraces shared activities and people strive to live fuller and happier lives, Rosin said consumers need fabrics and silhouettes they can live in.

Tonal shades of pale indigo, bleaching details and light pinstripes—used vertically and horizontally—add a dash of fashion, while garments are cut for movement. Jackets with kimono style sleeves are belted to define shape. Dungarees are wide-leg or skirted. Rosin suggests swapping metal hardware for knots as a sustainable (and stylish) alternative.

The fabric group is also friendly to more elegant styles like a wide paneled kimono cape, casual jacquard suiting and unlined, deconstructed jackets made with shirting weight. Linen seersucker, micro patterns in pale tone-on-tones and “ethno geometrical” jacquard adds depth and textural interest.

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Sustainable fabrics made with recycled fibers and eco-friendly washes are the main draw here, but Rosin said designers can do more to emphasize these positives with cocoon-like constructions that help tell a story about “natural, sustainable beauty.” Think pale pastels and pale indigo—less indigo may result in less water, she noted—vegetable dyes, gender neutral shapes and a touch of bohemian flair.

Described as “outdoor lounge wear,” Rosin said oversized silos are a must-have for comfort. Sweatshirts with 3-D honeycomb effects, multi-pocket revised workwear pants, boxy overalls and over-pleated trousers made with Tencel or silk blends add volume. A-line skirts intrigue with paneling, as well as pants, which Rosin suggests making with contrasting patterns on each leg.

Performance Perspective

In the season’s performance story, the denim industry has an opportunity to show off its latest tricks. This means more sustainable washes and effects, vibrant digital prints and material mixing that keeps consumers guessing. “Technology, together with sustainability, is the guiding light for the denim industry,” Rosin said.

Digital prints help achieve the bold primary colors that bring this trend to life. Reflective tape offers a tech vibe, yet serves a safety purpose. Hybrid silhouettes like denim skirts layered over bike shorts offer versatility, as well as a chance to play with matte and shine surfaces. Rosin noted that black matte and shine are especially important for S/S 2020.

Jog jeans made from lightweight indigo knit, “hyper volume” bomber jackets and packable running ponchos are a reminder of the trend’s sporty roots.


Described as “self-important” and “ostentatious,” Personalization invites designers to experiment with novelty fabrics, statement trims and bold silhouettes. As the season’s trendiest theme, Rosin said expect to see a lot of fabric, color and print mixing, along with vintage fabrics being spliced in. Likewise, graffiti and calligraphy will intertwine to make new eye-catching high-low graphics.

Dresses made with heavy weight fabrics on the top and fluid weights (ideal for printing) on the bottom create an interesting flow. Indigo jersey is lasered with two contrasting prints. Panels of colorful nylon interject heavy weight denim Trucker jackets in unexpected places. And work chinos are updated with mending and patches.

Metal studs add a punk vibe to indigo knit jacquard sweatshirts. Waistcoats with reinforced shoulders are illuminated with metallic coated fabrics. Rosin suggests mixing metal shine coatings with filmy coatings. And while strong shoulders are important here, Rosin said a sleeveless jumpsuit looks and feels fresh—especially with flashy gold details.