“Denim has never been more in demand,” according to retail analytics firm Edited. From denim being at the heart of most nostalgic fashion eras emulated by millennial and Gen Z consumers to jeans offering practical-minded consumers versatility and durability, there is a tidal wave of factors driving denim’s popularity in a post-pandemic world.
The category, however, is not a copy-and-paste version of how it was in early 2020.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the silhouettes that are selling out this year. To predict what will sell this fall, Edited examined how denim fared in 2021. Confirming The NPD Group’s declaration earlier this year that straight fits have dethroned skinny jeans, Edited named straight leg jeans the most preferred fit the U.S. and U.K. for women this fall.
In Fall 2021, straight fit jeans made up 21 percent and 23 percent of newness in the U.S. and U.K., respectively. They also accounted for 24 percent of sold-out styles in both regions.
Wide-leg and boot cut jeans are also enjoying successful comebacks, underscoring women’s pivot to relaxed fits, Edited stated.
Men’s denim is shifting in the opposite direction. Slim fits made up 46 percent of new arrivals in men’s Fall 2021 assortments, while skinny fits made up 45 percent of newness in the U.S. Though retailers in both regions offered more baggy styles, slim and skinny made up the highest portion of silhouettes that sold out in each region.
While consumers are warming up to color, their denim purchases lean toward practical and versatile.
Dark washes remain the go-to styles in the U.S., where the men’s segment saw 22 percent more black arrivals than blue for Fall 2021 and black denim had a higher sell out rate than blue, up 24 percent.
“In the U.S., keep collections dark as blacks, greys and navies totaled 35 percent of sold-out styles,” Edited stated.
Don’t overlook brown, either. A popular color with Gen Z, denim had a sell-out rate of 35 percent and 68 percent in the U.S. and U.K., respectively, despite only making up 5 percent of the sold-out Fall 2021 denim offering in each region.
In general, brown, green and white denim accounted for a smaller proportion of sold-out styles in both regions but Edited noted that these colors have “remained in the top eight most popular denim colors from 2019 and 2020, emphasizing their staying power.”
Edited expects more of the same this fall for pricing. The sweet spot for men’s and women’s jeans in the U.S. this fall is $40-$50, as 59 percent and 32 percent of Fall 2021 styles sold out in this price range.
While price points remain accessible, denim is taking direction from high-end designers. Collections by based on the noughties like Louis Vuitton, Diesel, Egonlab and Isabel Marant, are proving to be the most influential.
“Cargo pockets, distressing, low-rise cuts and micro miniskirts are bubbling up as key styles both on the street and the runway, cementing the era’s trends as vital for the coming season,” Edited stated.
Designer collections are also setting the tone for new embellishment and wash trends. Edited noted the wide range of denim shades featured across collections, like ’90s-inspired bleached washes at Vaquera to rich indigo at Carolina Herrera and Fendi. Patchwork designs by Etro and Acne Studio emphasized denim’s various colors, as well.
Streetwear and activewear-inspired graphics and logos may also be circling back into vogue. “All-over branding and slogans were stamped on wide-leg denim pants, most notably at Vetements for standout look,” Edited stated. “Subtler takes saw graphic prints placed on the elbows, knees and thighs.”