The Gen Z-led crusade to end skinny jeans rattled social media in 2021. After more than a decade positioned as a top-selling style, consumers begun to swap out the body-hugging silhouette for looser, more relaxed fits. CEOs of denim brands and retailers alike celebrated the new cycle of fashion, as it prompted consumers to revive their wardrobe with additional fits like wide-leg, straight, flare and more.
And while looser styles are performing better than they have in recent years, the skinny jean remains in the top spot, according to retail analytics platform StyleSage. Data from late last year shows skinny jeans are the most popular silhouette by a landslide, representing 3.5 times as many searches as straight fits, the second most popular denim silhouette for women.
Though skinny jeans have earned staple status in closets, brands are finding new ways to make the fit just as appealing as their relaxed counterparts with skinny jeans that fit multiple sizes.
One-size-fits-many jeans have popped up on shelves at women’s denim retailers in recent months, with Silver Jeans Co. one of the latest to step into the space. In December, the Canadian brand unveiled its Infinite Fit jean, a jean made with fabric that has 90 percent elasticity, allowing for one size to fit up to four waist sizes.
Jeans feature strong recovery and retention to enhance the wearer’s natural shape without the risk of stretching out over time. Size small accommodates sizes 24-27; medium fits sizes 28- 31; large fits sizes 32-35; and XL fits sizes 36-39. Currently, the jean is offered in a high-rise skinny fit, but the brand intends to expand into more silhouettes for women, as well as styles for men.
But before the Infinite Fit, there was the “Always Fits.” In 2020, Good American, known for its size-inclusive skinny jeans, worked with Turkish mill Calik Denim to create Always Fits denim, a high-rise skinny jean available in five size categories ranging from 00 to 32+ with 100 percent stretchability.
Calik developed the jean using sustainable elements and processes, including its Selfsized fabric that contains ultra-high elasticity and cotton for maximum comfort and softness. The special fabric is developed using the mill’s Denethic technology, a wash process that slashes water usage by 15 to 44 percent depending on the wash type: rinse-wash, rinse and enzyme-wash, or bleached.
Pakistan-based denim mill Naveena also introduced Self-Fit, its stretch solution made with Lycra fibers that fits up to two sizes up and down. The innovation is adaptable to any silhouette and provides shape retention and recovery needed for high-stretch fabric.
While many one-size-fits-many jeans are exclusive to skinny styles, Express’ “Flexx Jeans” come in an array of fits, including flare and straight. Jeans provide stretch in every direction and accommodate a range of three sizes.
NYDJ also introduced a concept that fits several waist sizes. Last January, the denim brand debuted SpanSpring, a line of skinny jeans that stretch to fit three sizes. Made with a blend of cotton, polyester and elastane, the jeans are offered in small, which fits waist sizes 0-4, medium, which fits sizes 6-10, and large, which fits sizes 12-16. The pull-on style also features NYDJ’s Lift Tuck technology that flattens the front and flatters the back. Within the first week of launch, the jeans were sold out.
J Brand’s Limitless Stretch also fits into the one-size-fits-many movement. The fabrication, created at the company’s Jeans Innovation Center in Los Angeles in 2020, is able to stretch to twice its size and retract without any sagging. Premium denim brand Frame tried its hand at more universally fitting denim around that same time, introducing its “Le One” skinny in 2020 as part of its sustainable collection. The jean comes in two sizes: Size One for sizes 23-28 and Size Two for sizes 29-34. The style is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified and made from GRS-certified organic cotton, and is available in four different washes ranging from light indigo to black.
Along with adding comfort to women’s wardrobes, brands tout the sustainable benefits of one-size-fits-many concepts. High-stretch denim is more accommodating to weight fluctuation, meaning it’s less likely to be discarded as a person’s size changes. Additionally, size-less denim can help lower return or exchange rates, ultimately mitigating carbon emissions associated with shipping.