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Unzipping 2016: Denim Trends to Expect Next Year

As 2015 comes to a close and designers are hard at work readying their Fall ’16 collections, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on the trends of the year gone by, and to get excited for what’s coming up next year. Rivet recently interviewed several designers and industry insiders to get their take on denim trends in the coming year.

Already a big trend in 2015, ’70s-inspired designs will remain a touchstone in the new year, with designers drawing from the bygone decade with wider flared jeans, culottes, and denim skirts, which Polyvore recently named as one of their most-searched items of 2015.

“I’ve got all inspiration from ’70s silhouettes and washes,” said Katie Kim, Hidden Jeans designer. “Very calm, clean medium blue tone, but with a hint of great detail such as frayed hems, embroidery and hidden zippers. I’m focusing on wide legs, culottes, and flares with great ’70s detail.”

In many ways the center of the denim world, San Francisco has sparked the imagination for decades, and still serves as an inspiration for today’s designers.

“San Francisco has so much inspiration when it comes to the ’70s,” said Amie Gains, designer at Level 99. “Naturally I love to check out the vintage shops that hold a true ’70s flare, from the vintage 501 Levi’s to the old Maverick, Lee, Jordache, and vintage suede jackets. Denim skirts are also coming back in all shapes and lengths from slim fitted long skirts, to A-line silhouettes.”

With activewear fast becoming the new luxury apparel, denim too is expected to continue to remain a trendy textile with big-name designers.

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“Even most named designers are now doing denim for their main concept because any other fabrics can’t [create] the effect of denim texture and washes. It just gives a variety of colors to the collection,” Kim noted.

This means that consumers are increasingly looking for jeans that they perceive as special or unique, either in detail or in material. The increasing profile of raw denim, for instance, is creating a new class of specialty jeans that consumers are buying in part as a statement piece, but also because of an increased focus in recent years on the negative side-effects of traditional washing methods.

“I think denim is really taking off as something that can be trendier than it was a couple of years ago, said Ashley Guyatt, James Jeans social media strategist. “Instead of a staple, simple pair of jeans, people are drawn to super-flares, cropped flares, very high waists, and multiple exposed buttons to name a few. As people gravitate more towards the statement jeans, I think we will be seeing less of the denim that doesn’t stand out as much. Of course people will stay true to their favorite pairs, but we see them investing in trendier flares, for example, over another pair of straight leg or boot cut jeans that may not make much of a statement.”

But if designers and consumers alike are looking back in time for a piece of heritage, what about more modern trends? While athleisure will ensure that slim profiles remain in fashion for the foreseeable future, experts said that buyers should start looking out for new profiles coming out in the next year.

“Most big buyers still look for skinnies,” Kim said. “But it’s going to be less than other newer silhouettes. Our buyers are looking for wide leg/culottes in these days. But capri length is still good for Fall ’16.”

But regardless of what trends come and go, one thing that was agreed on by all was that denim, in all of its various forms, would remain an eternal wardrobe staple.

“Denim will never die,” Guyatt added. “Everyone loves a good pair of jeans, especially when they find a brand that has a consistent fit with every silhouette. Can you imagine a weekend without your favorite pair of denim? I can’t!”