The Spring/Summer 2023 collections presented at New York Fashion Week this month illustrated the varied roles that denim plays in setting trends and forging sustainable partnerships.
Prabal Gurung nailed the Barbiecore for grownup aesthetics. From lace-up neon stilettos and Hanky Panky’s peek-a-boo lingerie to tulle frocks styled with black latex gloves, the designer showcased a collection made for nights out on the town. High contrast ’80s-inspired washes highlighted the sharp shapes of a denim bodysuit, bustier top, blazer and miniskirt with an oversized denim rosette.
In general, party-ready denim loomed large on the designer agenda.
Pearl baubles, beaded fringe and quilting decorated Pat Bo’s loose-fit jeans and collar-less jackets.
A perennial source for maximalist fashion, Alice + Olivia juxtaposed monochromatic chiffon gowns and satin suiting with ’90s-inspired denim in decade-appropriate washes. Items included a denim maxi skirt, bra top, suit with flare denim trousers and a cloudy bleached dress and matching jacket. Elements like crystal fringe trim on cropped jeans and the pairing of a white tulle duster added a bridal element to some looks.
Denim continued to be a key fabric in Et Ochs’ collections. Smatterings of white crystal decorated light-wash shackets, jeans and voluminous opera-length gloves. The Trucker jacket was reinvented as a bolero jacket with souped-up shoulders. A two-tone denim jacket and coordinating skirt offered a more casual look.
Skin was in at Dion Lee’s Y2K-tinged show. Zippers and cutouts accentuated low-rise flare jeans and a denim bustier top. Slouchy low-rise jeans and a pleated denim microskirt were styled with black cowboy boots and black knit tops.
Designers explored denim’s functional side as well.
Foo and Foo by Elizabeth Hilfiger nodded to Y2K with workwear signatures. The young label served acid green overdyed (and oversized) jorts—some decorated all over with hammer loops. The same overdyed fabric was applied to miniskirts, zip-up jackets, baggy jeans with drawstring waists and shredded jeans.
R13, which recently named Michael Kors alum Lily Funn Townsend as president, didn’t skip a beat in serving new takes on its signature punk-meets-skate aesthetic. Plaid flannel overalls and dresses, checkerboard print graphics and edgy separates made with gray suiting fabric contrasted with bleached-out denim shorts, cropped wide-leg jeans and vintage blue baggy jeans.
Pink also made a strong appearance in the form of straight-fit jeans and destroyed knits, while the prevalence of denim overalls in R13’s collection (with exaggerated silhouettes and washes) make it an item to watch for S/S ’23.
Overalls—with the bib top worn down—were part of Brandon Maxwell’s collection as well. Deep cuffs emphasized the garment’s wide legs.
Layering pieces also dominated the runway. Though simple in design, N Hoolywood’s Trucker, cinched coat, pull-over and shacket made an impact with their rich indigo hue. Meanwhile, Khaite applied blown-up proportions to a classic Trucker design.
Denim was a key category for designers looking to add sustainable elements and collaborators to their collection.
Collina Strada founder Hillary Taymour tapped robotics and digital apparel company Unspun to create four pairs of custom jeans for her inclusive runway show. The collaboration marked Unspun’s first appearance at a major fashion week.
The oversized, baggy fit styles were made with GOTS-certified 100 percent cotton 12.5 oz. ecru fabric from Candiani and vintage light and mid color 100 percent organic cotton 13 oz. fabrics from Evlox, which were then finished with Tonello’s All-In-One laundry system. Taymour added her own unique touch to the jeans by painting plaid patterns and adding rhinestone embellishments.
Levi’s revisited “see now, buy now” concepts with Who Decides War. The duo showcased five one-of-a-kind upcycled 501 jeans and Trucker jackets—each updated to suit the New York City label’s Caribbean theme for S/S ’23. The limited-edition garments boasted bright colors, organza overlays, zigzag stitch-work, pinching techniques and spray-painted designs.
All proceeds from the limited-edition pieces retailing for $499-$999, which went on sale Sept. 23, benefited Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, an organization focused on the development of minority leadership in the areas of environmental, social, and economic justice along the Mississippi River Chemical Corridor and Gulf Coast Region.