To captivate Gen Z consumers, denim designers need to look beyond the grid for inspiration.
“To be original makes you different, and of course we’re all inspired by Instagram, but at the end of the day, it’s important to be unique,” said Lucia Rosin, owner and head of design of Meidea, an Italian design consultancy with a focus on sustainable design.
At Denim Première Vision in London last week, the trend expert and member of the 2019 Rivet 50 outlined seven fit and style trends developed by the group for Spring/Summer 2021. Each theme was guided by the lifestyles, preferences and the social movements affecting the young cohort.
“This season, we tried to understand the big changes,” Rosin said, pointing out that politics, environmentalism and the division between real life and online communities creating a new breed of consumerism and fashion. While there’s no one way to see denim, she added, denim needs to serve multiple purposes.
Here’s a look at seven fit trends to know.
Ecru is the new white for Spring/Summer 2021, Rosin said. Rather than clean and crisp white that typically trends upward for warm months, the new aesthetic is rough around the edges, Rosin said. There’s an unrefined aspect to fabrics, she said, with raw cuts, linen textures and “primitive shapes.”
In this trend, indigo is cancelled, allowing for volume to take center stage. White and shades of ecru are mixed with dense and compact fabrics, overworked jacquards or paper-like fabrics. Other fabrics mix fine and coarse yarns, highlighting irregularities.
The fabrics are used to build garments that play with proportion. Key fits include balloon-sleeve tops, wide and short overalls, and rounded Trucker jackets with quilted inserts—an autumnal trend that Rosin sees becoming a year-round detail. Self-tie belts add shape to linen and hemp trousers.
Tonal layering mirrors the cozy feeling of pajamas, underscoring the trend for wellness and self-care. Rosin describes the look as “social pajamas.”
Elevated workwear with slimmer proportions compared to what is currently trending in the market guides Leixure, Meidea’s take on casual luxury fashion.
While natural and military color ways remain relevant, densely woven fabrics with sheen and shimmer elevate hybrid work suits, Rosin said. This look is enhanced with utility features like technology-related accessories and flat cargo pockets, which she said steps away from the bulbous 3D pockets that kicked off the utility trend.
New fits include the informal coat, pleated trousers, obi-inspired vests and boxy jackets. The combination of micro checks and stripes add a sartorial feeling, while honey-hued threads and details emphasize denim’s heritage appeal.
The trend also brings femininity to military-inspired fashion, Rosin said. Pocketing detail is important for denim skirts. And straight leg pants are punched up with two different back pockets.
Slender yet loose fits, lush materials and tonal water colors anchor “Nonchalant,” a theme that captures summer’s easy-going mindset. The trend plays on the parallels between two Gen Z buzzwords: sustainability and wellness.
“Wellness will be the next word we use as much as sustainability,” Rosin said, adding that if we are living well that means we are using less.
Sorbet hues, elongated shapes, natural fibers and blends like Tencel and linen help create “serene” and “floating” looks.
For women, the trend calls for long layered shirts with balloon sleeves and pleated skirts—an item Rosin said is currently a must-have in some parts of the world. “I was in Japan recently and if you don’t have a pleated skirt, you are nobody,” she quipped. Off-the-shoulder tops with string details add to the flirty look, as well as overalls with a feminine cut.
For men, soft sets with asymmetrical pocket details evoke the feeling of vacation wear. Garments with removable sleeves and slouchy chinos deliver an alternative look for work.
Two-tone indigo, soft color blocking and tie-dye with a color pale palette also live here, alongside soft indigo knitted tops, crochet bags and light sloping hats.
A combination of volumes and “sportive layering” lay the framework for “Superimpose.”
The focus, Rosin said, is on material surfaces. Dark colors, metallic details, geometric cuts and artisan qualities collide with overlapping printing techniques, including sustainable laser printing. Transparent indigo linen—a construction that mimics a web—adds an ethereal feeling.
Egg-shaped jackets, double-length pants and “throwback baggy fits” are included in the story. The casual office suit is updated with a slouchy fit and a double breasted soft jacket, Rosin said. Patchwork updates the classic denim shirt and cardigans and vests are layered.
Lightweight wrap tops and slouchy trousers with tie hems continue the pajama story, while denim vests with zipper details, cargo pants with an elasticized hem and technical sweatshirts speak to a sophisticated streetwear look. Asymmetrical pullover and a pencil denim skirt worn over flare denim chinos are among the more avant-garde items.
Travelers frequently inspire Meidea’s work as young generations adopt nomadic lifestyles. In “Wanderer,” denim fashion take style cues from these experiences with garments that allow freedom, functionality and a creative opportunity for designers to experiment with multi culture designs.
“Every time you go somewhere, you bring something home,” Rosin said.
Genderless, shapeless silhouettes and exaggerated volume live here—a look that is being normalized by musician Billie Eilish. Super-wide jumpsuits and clean boxy shapes allude to workwear. Contrasting colors and the play between matte fabrics and nylon add a youthful vibe, Rosin said.
Other key items include “technical and useful” blanket jackets, puffer pants and wide pants that resemble long basketball shorts. Relaxed fit T-shirts worn with double pants, tent hoodies draped over long Tencel skirts and double-layered shorts with a waterproof double breasted jacket round-out the eclectic theme.
Pops of neon colors (especially yellow and pink) and a mix of pop and folk art mimic the variety of art seen on streets around the world. “Remastered camo” and animal prints are updated with an indigo base. And digital prints are a must, in addition to abstract patterns and color contrasting piping.
In “Ultrahuman,” denim has an exaggerated volume like the other stories, but with a focus on stretch and hyper-stretch fabrications, Rosin said. The stretch aspect, she noted, introduces a bright and shiny appearance to denim for the season, which is emphasized by reflective prints, neon details and the juxtaposition of matte surfaces.
The theme offers a “reengineered office look” by way of a formal jacket made with stretch denim. The fabric should have an “extreme smoothness” effect with soft glaze of sheen, Rosin added. Dress pants are updated with color mutation digital prints.
Some silhouettes take inspiration from the biker world, making protection fashionable, Rosin said. Trucker pants take on a slouchy fit, while tops feature utility pockets. Color combinations play a key role here, particularly black and white denim, and black and blue denim.
Inspired by Gen Z’s passion for environmentalism, “Defender” blends together conscious design with grunge influences, vintage fabrics and an iconoclastic spirit, Rosin said.
Here, new garments are made with old ones, and old garments are upgraded with new fits. Key items include statement Trucker jackets with half sleeves, cropped denim chinos, one-shoulder T-shirts and new iterations of mom jeans.
Checks and destroyed denim adds a grunge flavor, while handwritten slogans and artisan details like knit and multicolor crochet tap into the activist spirit.