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The Look: Loose and Playful Denim Trends for Spring/Summer 2016

As denim becomes increasingly versatile, you can expect more than a simple pair of jeans from companies specializing in the classic American fabric. At Kingpins New York on Jan. 21, Lourdes Linares, a representative from trend forecasting agency WGSN, outlined the innovative fabrics, treatments, and themes in key denim stories for Spring/Summer ’16.

In a trend story called Past Modern, old meets new for reworked interpretations of vintage styles. Linares explained that Past Modern would be a good fit for traditional heritage brands like Levi’s with its mood of “disheveled tailored elegance to create more of a polished take on rugged denim basics.”

Past Modern includes vintage details alongside lightweight fabrics. The trend uses twills and performance fabrics with sheen, laser patchworks, and localized coatings. The details include utility patch pockets, robust hardware, hidden salvage accents, and spread collars. With resin treatments and ink-spattered and crumpled surfaces, there is a mood of well-loved, traditional materials with an aged, organic feel.

Soft Pop plays with vintage designs, but in a more playful and bright vibe. The throwback story zeroes in on 1950s rock n’ roll styles combined with a playful 1980s attitude. Linares said the trend includes, “Really kitsch novelty pop culture references.” Softened silhouettes and pop pastels, scripted embroideries, and tongue-in-cheek embellishments will update items like circle skirts and cropped truckers. The fabrications include sheen, graphics, aerosol sprays, and rubberized treatments.

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For women, skintight pin-up shorts with compact stretch denim will be popular, along with biker dresses with nipped waist and lapels. Menswear will feature retro polo shirts with spread collars and color blocking inspired by bowling shirts. The trend will also include spread collar truckers with pleated fronts, ornate stitching, and a touch of old Western style.

The trend story Eco-Active marries two worlds, combining military styles with a world traveler’s. The colors span earthy browns and swampy greens, and textures include rough-hewn textiles, handspun details, and patchworks. For women, key items will include the boho boyfriend jean accented with embroidering, beading, embellishing, tassels, and fringing. Expect to see the military carrot, a carrot-fit pant with cargo styling and a paperbag waist. For men, trends will include the sashiko jean, a baggy, low-slung pant with a cropped hem, and the blanket short, which is active wear-inspired with jacquards and functional details like bungee cords. Linares anticipates the blanket short being very popular for festival wear.

Deep Summer is a moody, abstract trend story that combines athletic styles with imagery of the ocean. Linares said, “Deep Summer explores the dark side of the ’90s, So-Cal style in a cinematic surf noir story.” The trend takes cues from athletics uniforms with details like team stripes and active waistbands.

The ocean is an obvious inspiration for the theme’s color palette of “darks with blurred shots of white and bioluminescent brights.” Prints and patterns reference deep-sea creatures, and the materials use high-shine coatings creating liquid looks and surface effects. The washes include layered bleaching and dying, diffused bleach sprays, and graphic prints.

The basketball short, with a loose, billowing fit and layered mesh, will be an important item for women. For men, an updated board short will be key, featuring coated lightweight fabrics with a silhouette that references 1990s oversized surf shorts and Thai boxing styles. Both men and women, will wear an active 5-pocket pant with classic jeanswear and track pants styling.