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Emerging Spring Denim Trends Break the Skinny-Jean Mold

Fashion is turning a corner this spring.

Using April data, product intelligence company Trendalytics points to a renewing sense of “vaccine optimism” sweeping over men’s and women’s fashion.

This joyful mood is invigorating the denim category, which is already buzzing from recent comments made by denim executives about a “new cycle” on the horizon for the commodity staple. Beyond blue jeans and looser fits, data from Trendalytics shows early signs that denim retailers are investing in more color and novelty styles.

Printed jeans—a trend that inundated the Spring/Summer ’21 catwalks—are an emerging trend to watch in the women’s category. New arrivals of printed jeans are up 12 percent compared to April 2020. Notable styles, according to Trendalytics, include jeans by Holiday The Label, an Australian brand known for using ’90s nostalgic prints like the ying-yang and checkerboard across its line, and Paloma Wool, a Spanish brand that incorporates abstract nature-inspired prints.

Printed denim is a theme that can be found across various tiers of brands. This spring, Wrangler applied a retro logo print to women’s jeans and a denim jacket. AG Jeans livened up white denim with printed splashes of blue and teal. DL1961 and Hudson opted for floral motifs, while Reformation chose a desert landscape for its jeans. Printed denim is on track to carry into fall, too. The trend appears in the Fall/Winter 21-22 collections by Akris, Alberta Ferretti, Dirty Pineapple and more.

Data from product intelligence company Trendalytics points to a renewing sense of “vaccine optimism” sweeping over fashion, including denim.
Akris Fall/Winter 21-22 WWD

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As cities and businesses across the U.S. being to reopen, consumers are evaluating their work wardrobes. Enter the trouser jeans, which Trendalytics named as an emerging trend. New arrivals of the casual-yet-polished jean style are up 11 percent compared to last year. The style echoes the category shift to wide-leg silhouettes and fits into the ’70s trend that continues to influence women’s fashion.

Even the girls’ category, Trendalytics noted, is adopting looser denim styles. New arrivals of girls’ baggy jeans are up 353 percent and wide-leg jeans are up 107 percent compared to April 2020. Girls’ skinny jeans are down 10 percent year-over-year.

Men are refreshing their denim wardrobe with seasonal staples and pops of color. Though new arrivals of men’s bleached jeans are down 54 percent compared to last year, Trendalytics’ data shows signs of new life for truer blue hues. New arrivals of men’s light-wash jeans are up 12 percent.

Men’s pink jeans are also “exhibiting emerging behavior,” Trendalytics reported. Pink, in general, has been an unstoppable color in both the men’s and women’s categories.

Beyond denim

Momentum for colorful and decorated fashion is catching on in other areas of fashion as well.

The men’s category is veering toward the preppy trend that had been percolating prior to the pandemic. New arrivals of color-block shirts are up 35 percent and golfing essentials, like jersey polos and cardigans, are both experiencing double-digit growth. Men’s chino shorts may be the biggest winner of the season. New arrivals of preppy staple are growing, up 43 percent compared to last year.

Meanwhile, the women’s category is at a slightly moodier crossroads between last summer’s cottagecore trend and fall’s dark academia movement. The result is “light academia,” which Trendalytics described as a “spring alternative to its gothic counterpart.” The light academia look is summed up by a soft color palette and collegiate staples like wide-leg trousers (up 21 percent compared to last year) and ribbed cardigans (up 92 percent). Blazers with elbow patches continue to be a hot item, with new arrivals up 315 percent.

Trends in women’s accessories show signs of a brighter and more glamorous future for women’s fashion, however. The Fall/Winter 21-22 glowed with embellished dresses and sets designed for going out, but data from Trendalytics indicates that consumers may experiment with glitzy accessories before diving into party looks. New arrivals of drop earrings and rhinestone hair clips, up 11 percent and 65 percent, respectively, offer “luxury without the commitment.” Feather trims (up 3 percent compared to last year) and ribbon details (up 19 percent), meanwhile, present a subtle way to elevate garments.