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Workwear May Be the Antidote to the Flood of Fashion Denim That’s Coming in 2019

With a flurry of printed, embellished and deconstructed denim heading to stores this spring, diehard denim heads may be wondering what’s left for them, but one denim expert anticipates a return to tried-and-true denim in 2019.

Christine Rucci, president and creative director of the denim consultancy Godmother NYC Inc., sees military and workwear gaining momentum in men’s, women’s and unisex denim categories, offering a type of reprieve from the deep fashion cycle that has been spinning the denim industry.

The trend for destroyed denim (i.e. tears, holes and heavy vintage washes) is dwindling down, Rucci said, giving brands room to focus on raw denim or simple washes that allow the jeans to wear naturally. The denim coverall, the chore coat, carpenter pants and the sailor jean live here, she added, alongside triple needle finishing and thread colors like orange, navy and green.

Color is carried into fabrics with red, military green, gray and sand yarn dye on the upswing. To contrast, Rucci said saturated black over indigo, as well as indigo over dyeing in plain weaves and canvas will become go-to denim staples.

Metal studs, appliqués, artisanal patching and mending—from hand-stitching to “more intricate sashiko” enhances the lived- and loved-in look. “We will see the return of the heritage back pocket embroideries and arcuates,” Rucci said.

Over printing, stenciling and lasering will continue in fabric and garment form. “This will allow companies to take their jean styles and using sustainable methods, create new items and to even upcycle excess inventory,” Rucci said. “Print inspiration will include creating textures, yarn dye looks and Calico and Wabash effects.”

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Uniform dressing also calls for 100 percent cottons, selvedge and heavier weights, which Rucci said is gaining interest thanks in part to the growing selvedge denim culture in men’s fashion and the popularity of brands like Re-Done in women’s denim. Both have helped intensify consumers’ interest in fit, fabrics and fades. “And price is not an issue to this consumer base,” Rucci quipped.

The key, she added, is to work on more modern fits with fabrics like 2×1 ecru and 8- to 11-ounce indigo denim.

For women, that means shrunken and fitted versions of uniform garments, but with the same high level of attention to detail and quality that is typically found in men’s.

Herringbone, ticking stripes and Wabash—either printed, yarn dyed or lasered—are among the most important details to look for in 2019, Rucci said.

Beyond jeans, the denim and chambray shirt is on track for a big year as it is part of men’s and women’s Western, workwear and military fashion.

Rucci urged mills to offer “lighter weights from 4- to 8-ounces in twills, stripes, checks, plain weaves and plaids.”