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New York Fashion Week Denim Report

Spring ’19 runway shows during New York Fashion Week were fertile ground for deconstructed jeans, dressed-up denim and nods to workwear and streetwear style.

After two seasons showing in Paris, Proenza Schouler designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough returned to New York Fashion Week with denim on the brain. Denim, which the design duo actually sourced from Japan, served as the foundation to their Spring ’19 collection, which was made entirely in the U.S.

“In Paris you kind of get into all the embroideries and the feather work, and you’re relying on all that technique,” Hernandez told the Associated Press. “And going back to New York [we thought], ‘Why don’t we do the whole collection in one fabric, and what if that fabric was denim? What could we do with that?’ So we really limited the scope of material in a major way.”

The final collection included denim, cotton and some leather. With acid wash drop hem dresses and oversized button-down shirts as main draws, the stripped-down, utilitarian collection was a departure from the highly-embellished and fantastical designs the label is known for.

Designing in denim also allows the brand to offer lower prices—a move that worked well for the brand this season. McCollough said a Fall ’18 tie-dye dress, which was priced lower than the rest of the collection, was among the brand’s most popular looks for the season.

“It got us thinking about clothes in a different way,” he told the AP. “Maybe everything doesn’t need to be so embellished. Maybe everything doesn’t need to be US$12,000.”

Proenza Schouler’s use of acid wash—though bold and brash—was an elevated step away from the throwback ’80s and ’90s styling currently dominating streetwear. That’s where designer Jeremy Scott stepped in with his patchwork denim overalls with “down to there” front zips.

Jeremy Scott’s ready-to-wear collection revisited pop culture elements that have become familiar themes in his collections. Denim with exposed pocket bags, patchwork jeans and mini skirts mingled with comic book lettering, neon latex, tops with embellished NBA logos and Pokémon knits. The designer also remixed grunge-era plaid and styling by introducing clear shades of teal, lime and red to Buffalo check.

Up-and-comer Christian Cowan look a liking to ’90s-inspired checkerboard. The designer showed a cropped denim jacket and jeans with a blue checkerboard pattern, as well as classic black and white checkerboard on slinky dresses.

Other designers were less precise with their patchwork. In his 50th anniversary collection, Ralph Lauren used patchwork and mending to create a lived-in, vintage feel, while Kith’s collaboration with Greg Lauren used the technique in apocalyptic fashion. The collaboration was centered on deconstructed denim, hybrid tops and outerwear, that haphazardly combined denim with flannel, twill, terry and rugby shirts.

Coach took a Western approach to patchwork. In an interview with Vogue Paris, Coach creative director Stuart Vevers said he found inspiration in Santa Fe and its small villages. “It is about assembling and reconstructing the craft and the spirit of the American look; exploring and playing with these salvaged heirlooms and placing them a new context,” he told Vogue.

The result was a collection chock-full of patchwork denim, including a snap front button down denim dress over crinoline and men’s and women’s patchwork denim sweatshirts. The collection came together with slightly oversized patchwork leather boiler suits, prairie shirting and satin bomber jackets.

Designers took double denim to a new level. JNBY showcased a denim duster with rigid jeans, denim shorts worn over jeans, as well as man-tailored trousers with a sturdy jeans waistband. The Chinese brand also styled women’s Trucker jackets tucked in as a shirt—a look that was repeated on Kith Park’s runway.

Layered denim was an essential part of R13’s ode to Cali rockers. R13 designer Chris Leba layered denim minis over jeans. Other looks included sequin-covered jean shorts worn over animal print bike shorts and destroyed jean shorts with a lace-up waistband plucked from board shorts.

Denim took an elegant turn with long-line dresses by Christian Cowan and flirty frocks by Adeam. Christian Cowan also showed drapey paper-waist denim trousers cinched with a matching bow. Ralph Lauren captured the tailored look with high-waist, pleated front denim trousers topped off with a Western-inspired belt. And Gabriela Heart nailed the denim for work look with a denim chambray button-down shirt and pleated pant with a rich luster.

Cushnie designer Carly Cushnie incorporated dark rinse denim with clean, form-fitting lines into her otherwise colorful, Caribbean-inspired collection. The stretch denim pieces, like an off-the-shoulder jumpsuit and a body-skimming dress with a peekaboo midriff, were a nod to retro pinup girl fashion.

Dark denim was part of Tory Burch’s safari collection. The designer punched up ankle grazing jeans with an exposed button fly with shiny gold hardware, and paired a ruffled jean skirt with contrast stitching and a long tunic.

Contrast stitching was a common theme for brands entering workwear territory. John Elliot’s collection focused on boxy silhouettes with contrast stitching and zippers. Linder emphasized the seams of its natural cotton Trucker jacket and matching jeans with green stitching.

Baggy dark wash denim with contrast stitching brought a casual vibe to Monse’s otherwise preppy nautical collection chockfull of satins and stripes. The men’s jeans featured numerous deep pockets down the leg and a hammer loop. Karabiners with a knotted rope tassel swayed from belt loops.

Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond teamed up with ’90s brand FUBU for his Spring ’19 collection that paid tribute to the African American experience. Looks included a suede and denim men’s leisure suit with a drawstring waist and contrast top stitching.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jean-Raymond said, “Part of what I want to do is highlight American designers who have not been considered designers because they are urban. FUBU was doing $200 million a year, similar to Donna Karan.”

The athleisure denim trend continued, however on a smaller scale. Romeo Hunt keyed into the same scuba trend as Calvin Klein, but with the addition of neoprene and denim jackets. The zip jackets featured peal-away denim sleeves that revealed sporty mesh.

Nicole Miller opted for jean jackets with an athleisure bomber silhouette. The jackets featured sport stripes down the sleeve and were a tomboy addition to the collection’s glammed up jeans spattered in clear sequins.

Pops of color, like John Elliot’s washed red denim set, and kitschy motifs like Michael Kors’ denim jackets and jeans with retro floral appliqués and buttons, added novelty to the runway.

Meanwhile, prints and logos continues to hold fashionistas’ attention. Designer Claudia Li showed a denim skirt with lunch bag-size bellow pockets. The pockets’ expanded pleats were done up in playful Hawaiian floral prints.

Kith logos, revamped with gothic lettering, decorated the brand’s high-waisted jeans with elastic hems. Luar designer Raul Lopez featured a similar silhouette on his runway with an all-over astronomy print.

And expect to see wrist watch motifs explode, thanks to Christian Cowan’s unconventional use of the time piece. In his collection, gold watch bands double as shoe straps and a glammed-up print. Cowan combined his layered watch print with denim to create half-and-half jean jeans and a matching jean jacket.

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