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Spring/Summer 2021 Denim Trends at Kingpins Amsterdam

The shift to ’70s styling and tailored silhouettes seen on the Spring/Summer 2020 catwalks is only a precursor to the evolution the denim category will see for Spring/Summer 2021. At Kingpins Amsterdam Wednesday, Amy Leverton and Samuel Trotman of Denim Dudes outlined four themes for Spring/Summer 2021 that turn the next dial of vintage, street and sustainable trends.

The season, they described, steps away from the brash aesthetic of streetwear to embrace nature-inspired designs, uplifting colors and contemporary DIY techniques coined by young generations.

Here’s a closer look at the key trends.

Eco Wanderer

With a new generation of “eco warriors” like Greta Thunberg rousing the world’s attention about environmental neglect, Trotman said it’s time for brands to begin to align with young consumers’ mindsets. Eco Wanderer examines how designers can be inspired by nature while helping to sustain it.

The story, Leverton added, is grounded in travel-friendly silhouettes that are languid and loose with worn finishes, soft fabrics and a color palette that is rooted in earthy brown and spirted greens, yellows, purples and melon.

Hand-drawn motifs, embroideries and earth-positive messaging drive the message home, and are often paired with tie-dye techniques. But brands be warned: “You have to practice what you preach and print on your T-shirt,” Trotman said.

Natural dyes and mineral treatments create soft and subtle color effects, marking the next evolution of tie-dye, which Trotman added is still commercial, while odd color pairings and tie-dye mixed with craft details make a dynamic look. Water washes gain momentum. Those achieved with ozone and laser technology tee off opportunities for companies to talk about their water-conservation efforts.

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Micro-florals and tile patterns are inspired from all parts of the world. Leverton added that these motifs offer a chance for brands to shine a spotlight on where they manufacture. “If you’re making in Pakistan, why not embrace the craft from there,” she suggested.

Eco Wanderer also invites a chance for designers to reimagine traditional weaves, indigo plaids and Ikat, which Leverton said looks fresh in fashion colors. Hemp and linen used in open constructions add a natural look. This trend, Leverton said, is “about seeing and feeling nature in cloth.”

Gentle Blues

Luxury streetwear evolves in Gentle Blues, a trend story based on romantic and elegant silhouettes, textures and color.

The trend is buoyed by the surge of soft tailing seen in recent men’s collections, where jeans are replaced with slouchy pants and silk camp shirts displace the humble tee. In men’s wear, Leverton said, “Designers are pushing the boundaries of social norms.”

Comfort is the underlining quality of all Gentle Blue garments, which focuses on elevated workwear, “gentle volume,” knit aesthetics and transparent layers. This theme, Leverton added, is the “post-atheleisure trend” trend.

The color palette reflects the trend’s soft mood. Playful pastels like violet, skylight blue and bright white are used throughout, serving as a visual signifier of the garment’s softness.

Lightweight synthetics and silk and rayon blends add iridescent shimmer to the springtime hues, while soft-focus dyes add a barely-there tint.

Gentle Blue serves as an opportunity for brands to introduce low-impact chemical alternatives to stone and acid effects, which Leverton said “is possible achieve, you just have to go the extra mile.”


As the most jeanswear-centric story for the season, Faded throws it back to the era just before the internet became a part of our everyday lives—the ’90s. The trend delves into offline archives (i.e. magazines) to pull references from the decade’s musicians, models, actors and designers (Helmut Lang and Commes de Garcons). Or as Trotman said, references from “the fringes of culture.”

The result is a trend story with a disheveled attitude inspired by grunge, punk and skate. Fabrics have a well-worn feel with dirty stonewash effects, yellow tints and green casts, which are offset with a ’90s color palette of mid-tones that include reds and greens.

The look is enhanced with deconstructed silhouettes, skirts worn over jeans and anti-fit shapes. Faded also introduces recent vintage bottoms like boxy cargo pants with oversized pockets or wide-cropped fits, trouser-cut khaki pants with flat fronts and the “barely boot cut” for women.

Blurred flannel plaids, destroyed hemlines and the return of ’90s logos from brands like Stussy and X-Large punctuate the total look.

Digital Disrupters

Youth culture is always a source of inspiration, but whereas past generations have offered music and celebrity references, Gen Z is serving up a world that blends virtual with reality. Digital Disrupters translates this hybrid world through futuristic prints, intense color and reflective fabrics.

Diffused tie-dyes, photo-real prints and ethereal abstract patterns confuse the eye. Silhouettes are oversized, slouchy and stacked, leaning more toward “the ugly” than toward fashion, Leverton said. This bad-taste vibe is highlighted in the use of flame motifs, diamanté embellishments, clashing colors and mismatched prints.

Flashes of neon—as jacket linings, contrast stitching or aerosol spray effects—add a Y2K look, as well as liquid shine metallic and glossy finishes.

The trend also calls for re-engineered classics and bootleg versions of high-end labels and logos. The off-kilter designs, Leverton said, look as if “you took a jean and messed around with it on a computer screen.”

In a post-Vetements world, Leverton said designers are more inventive and scrappy. The combinations are crude, she added, with random combinations and exposed frays, resulting in garments that require the “confidence of youth” to pull off.