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At NYFW, Country and City Influences Clash in Denim

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Denim, once again, was a fixture in Fall/Winter 2021-2022 collections presented during an almost entirely digital New York Fashion Week, serving as a reliable foundation for brands designing for a period that many anticipate being safer and closer to a pre-pandemic normal.

The fabric was a natural choice for Victor Li and his collection inspired both by the film “Brokeback Mountain” and his road trip through Wyoming. Mixed with plaids, postcard prints and photorealistic images of ranchers, Li experimented with denim finishes, offering dark washes, black-and-white tie-dye effects and ’80s-style bleaching.

Key men’s pieces included a zip-up denim vest, jeans and denim jackets. For women—a first for Li—the designer centered on loose-fit jeans with utility-inspired seaming, a cropped cross-over denim jacket and a knee-length denim skirt. The designer also made a strong case for white cowboy boots with a denim shaft.

Coming off the recent launch of a loungewear collection, Veronica Beard continued to offer versatile wardrobe staples that can be dressed up or down—but with a stately aesthetic. A multi-check jacket elevated a gray sweat jumpsuit, while silky tie-print sets featured elastic waistbands. Timeless denim pieces, like a pussy-bow denim blouse, slim jeans and a washed black denim jumpsuit were paired with velvet suiting and menswear-inspired blazers.

Shanghai-based Dirty Pineapple brought a cozy sense of home to its streetwear-inspired line of gender-neutral knits, crushed velvet bottoms and oversized outerwear. Slouchy, pleated jeans were a mainstay. Jeans were also decorated with the brand’s quilt-inspired print. Overdyed teal denim suits and work pants were among the more structured looks in the collection.

Exaggerated silhouettes were a continuous theme in Tanya Taylor’s F/W 21-22 collection, which included a casual drop-waist denim dress with oversized sleeves and a pair of ultra-wide leg sailor jeans accented with gold hardware.

Denim was a core fabric in the collection from Rentrayage, a brand that uses traceable materials and fabrics sourced from vintage clothing. Jeans were remade with floral and corduroy inserts, while others were pieced together to create two-tone jeans. Jean jackets were finished with the sleeves of a sporty varsity jacket, while others were spliced together with a quilted jacket. A button-down denim shirt featured a faux floral corset.

Inspired by “Gossip Girl,” which is being rebooted in 2021, Alice + Olivia presented acid-wash jogger jeans—with a black leather waistband—alongside black-and-white tweed separates, neon green tulle skirts and Regency-era puff-sleeved dresses. The brand stated that the collection is an “ode to New York City old and new,” melding Renaissance glamour with downtown grunge.

R13 went all the way downtown for its modern interpretation of ’90s grunge. Naturally, destroyed knits, flannel shirts, and ironic floral and animal prints made up the look, as well as vintage-wash denim. A black-to-gray ombré jean jacket, an oversized shearling-lined denim coat and black denim jumpsuit added a modern spin to the throwback story. One jean featured expletive-laden lacing up the backside.

Jeans with lacing were prominently featured in Nihl’s underground collection, including a pair with one transparent PVC leg.

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