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Trendalytics: Men Get Playful with Experimental Denim

The denim category is continuing to heat up, and the men’s category is playing a crucial role.

This month, research firm Allied Market Research estimated that the denim industry will grow to $88.1 billion by 2030, with the men’s segment at the forefront. Men’s denim accounted for the largest share in 2020, making up almost half of the global jeans sector, and it’s expected to keep the lead position through 2030. Recent campaigns from brands like Wrangler, which put out a collection in partnership with Paramount Network’s hit series “Yellowstone,” as well as Hudson, which partnered with Brandon Williams, stylist to a number of NBA, MLB and NFL athletes, on a special capsule collection for men, helped underscore the men’s denim moment.

Product intelligence company Trendalytics’ top trends report for May 2022 echoes the sentiment, with men’s denim making up a large portion of the data. Emerging trends include men’s acid wash and cuffed jeans, which have seen a 26 percent and 17 percent increase, respectively, in consumer online searches since last year. Patchwork is also dominating men’s jeans and denim jackets, likely a result of an uptick in upcycling initiatives that piece together denim scraps.

Purple jeans are also considered a safe bet for men, with a 70 percent spike in searches from last year. Recently popular with women, colored denim is expanding into the men’s category as cheerful hues sweep through fashion in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just as women’s denim loosened up over the past year, so have men’s. Trendalytics reports that wide leg pants and relaxed jeans are gaining traction for men. Looser fits remain a top style for children as well: The report noted a 30 percent increase in girls’ straight-leg jeans from last year.

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Cargo pants and utility pants are also top trends for men as function and comfort become top priorities.

But while utility may be a safe bet for the men’s category, it’s reportedly losing steam for women. Searches for the once-popular utility jumpsuit declined 15 percent since last year. Similarly, the frayed denim jacket has also lost traction, dropping 21 percent since 2021.

Instead, women are searching for hand-painted denim, a signature style for NYC-based Wren + Glory, which is known for its elaborately decorated denim jackets. During the pandemic, it spread cheer and nostalgia with a lighthearted collaboration with Nickelodeon featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and many of his signature phrases artfully painted on top of denim jackets of varying washes and constructions.

Searches for hand-painted denim are up 40 percent since last year, fueled by other denim brands like size-inclusive Good American, which tapped into the style just before its collaboration with Zara.

V-front pants have also seen significant traction in women’s, up 99 percent since last year. The shift to low-rise denim is made easier with a v-front waistband, as it provides a high rise in the back, eliminating the waist gap that typically comes from low-rise denim, and gradually lowers in the front to mimic the belly-baring styles of the early ’00s.