Streetwear may be simmering down to make room for more polished looks, but the shift in style in 2020 will not diminish denim’s glow on the runway.
At Denim Première Vision in London last week, Alexandra Van Houtte, founder of Tagwalk, shared her forecast for denim for the Fall/Winter 20-21 season, revealing key denim runway trends for men and women.
Tagwalk creates forecasts for the season ahead based on user searches and the frequency of trends on the runway. The French fashion search engine breaks down each season of shows by using key words to help users identify and search for trends, designers, brands, colors, fabrics, models and more.
To understand F/W 20-21, it’s important to understand what happened on the runway in previous seasons.
Denim is becoming a focal point in collections. For F/W 19-20, Van Houtte said the top key word searches were: ’80s, bohemian, western and utility. These denim trends, she said, were typically styled on the runway with basic items like T-shirts, sweaters and long coats, meaning denim has become the fashion statement.
Historically, Van Houtte said denim is stronger on the spring catwalk than the fall, but the tides are changing. In Tagwalk’s forecast, there will be approximately 515 denim looks on the F/W 20-21 catwalk, a number that is comparable to denim in Spring/Summer 2020 collections.
“Denim is really becoming something that is such a core value for trends that we really think for Fall/Winter 2020 [the quantity of denim is] going to become almost equal to spring/summer,” Van Houtte said.
For S/S 20, Van Houtte said 54 percent of the 750 luxury designers that presented at fashion weeks around the world included at least one piece of denim in their shows. Out of that group, 64 percent of the brands have worked with denim for the past four seasons.
“There’s this huge amount of the luxury sector that has denim,” she said, noting that many stalwart fashion houses are prioritizing denim.
Givenchy introduced upcycled denim for the first time for S/S 20 with a collection that smacked of ’90s nostalgia. Bottega Veneta, a heritage brand that is enjoying a revival among millennial consumers, stepped into denim for the first time focusing on clean workwear-inspired silhouettes. Meanwhile, Celine, which featured denim in 49 percent of its ’70s-inspired collection, is making denim a “centerpiece” in everyday wardrobes.
“All of these brands have one thing in common,” Van Houtte said. “They treat denim as part of a core collection instead of an extra piece within a collection.”
These brands, she added, have a heavy influence on mass market brands and consumers. And the effects will linger into F/W 20-21.
For F/W 20-21, Tagwalk is projecting that bleached denim, blue denim and color denim will be key items in collections.
Bleach denim, Van Houtte pointed out, started strongly in F/W 18-19 and it hasn’t gone down. “It’s just one of those consistent trends,” she said, adding that bleached denim is in eight pre-fall collections, including Givenchy and Off-White. However, the trend is graduating from a high-contrast, oversized ’90s look to a more elegant and bohemian ’70s style.
“Bleach denim is something that has a really good evolution and that you can bet on,” she said.
Blue denim is not going anywhere for F/W 20-21. The fabric, Van Houtte said, is consistently used by major designers and is often used in total denim looks like a shirt with jeans or a jacket with jeans.
As bold color and monochromatic color became major trends across all categories of fashion, the number of color denim looks on the runway has been rising. Van Houtte said it’s a trend being spurred by designers with a younger demographic like Chloe and Isabel Marant. “It’s not really a denim piece. It’s a fashion piece,” she said.
The fabric and color trends will be paired with other key styling trends, Van Houtte said, including slimmer silhouettes, destroyed denim, printed denim and contrasted denim.
Contrasted denim, she pointed out, is the one to watch. “Contrasted denim is really good for upcycling and sustainability because you can mix different pieces together and it becomes a trend,” she said.
The past two seasons saw sustainable fashion become more prominent on the runway with denim leading the charge. In F/W 19-20, Van Houtte said 0.9 percent of the fashion shows had sustainable denim. That number grew to 7.4 percent for S/S 20.
And they are taking one of two sustainable approaches: upcycled denim or denim made with sustainable materials. “The only material where brands can project themselves on a sustainable matter right now is denim,” Van Houtte said.
Brands using these tactics, she added, are very open in their communication and are eager to share their sustainable approach. “I’m not saying it’s an easy way to communicate to consumers, but it’s a good path to take which always looks good,” she said.