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How Freelance Culture Is Relaxing Spring/Summer 2020 Denim Trends

The casualization of the workplace has proven to be gangbusters for the denim industry, but what will it mean for the jeans business when nearly half of the U.S. workforce become freelance?

At Fashion Snoops’ recent Trend Immersion Day in New York City, culture editor Heather Picquot shared how conventional values like full-time employment are giving way to newfangled concepts that value freedom, creativity and craftsmanship over stability—and how that is bound to affect fashion.

By 2020, Picquot says 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be freelance. At the heart of this shift, she said, is a new idea of what success looks like.

While in the past, success may have amounted to a steady income, a family and a home, millennials are challenging these traditional notions. Rather, Picquot said success in 2020 may mean a nomadic lifestyle.

Freelance culture is just part of an overall effort to be happier. That pursuit of happiness is leading to more workplaces bringing the outdoors in, new companies that specialize in off-the-grid travel, hotels that promote having no cell service and apps that prompt people to go offline.

This heightened level of thoughtfulness is resulting in a new slow living design aesthetic. Heritage designs, non-perfect forms and organic shapes underscore the beauty of raw materials.

How Freelance Culture Is Relaxing 2020 Denim Trends
Story Mfg. Story Mfg.

It’s an aesthetic that brands like Story Mfg. and Tender, both out of the U.K., have honed by exploring new dyeing techniques, traditional weaving techniques and sustainable alternatives.

It’s also driving designers to look at how and why they design everyday items. Picquot said intuitive details can enhance the practicality of products. For instance, the placement of a mug’s handle may make it more ergonomic, or a circular couch or table may bring people together.

In some ways, she said, comfort and practicality is the new luxury.

For women’s Spring/Summer 2020 denim, the trend calls for roomy oversized denim trousers as an update to boyfriend jeans. Relaxed, wide leg pants are refreshed as canvas culottes. For men, retro denim will sit slightly higher on the waist to create a late ’70s and early ’80s look. Raw hemlines will emphasize the denim’s texture.

And the pursuit of happiness is a natural fit for children’s denim. Ombre effects, drawstring waists and jogger fits reinforce the trend’s carefree and casual vibe.

Along these lines, Picquot said she expects to see more products “aged to perfection,” meaning patinas will add color and texture to home and jewelry and wash processes will enhance the character of leather, canvas and denim.