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Year in Review: Denim Rules the Runway

Denim made its presence felt once again on the runway in 2022. 

Men’s Fall/Winter 2022-2023 collections shared the spotlight with Julia Fox’s double-denim ensembles in January.

Loose silhouettes were the most common theme in men’s denim. Hed Mayner presented wide-leg jeans with layers and deep patch pockets. Bluemarble elevated baggy bottoms with intricate beadwork on the sides of legs. Kolor kept it cool with slouchy jeans and deconstructed pretty knits and Taakk added distressed textures to the surface of jeans.

Jeans with front seaming details were seen in collections by Liberal Youth Ministry, JW Anderson and Valette Studio. The twisted and ripped seams of Jordanluca’s extra-long jeans exposed legs. Warped denim continued to be a popular theme for Y/Project, which featured several garments that were artfully buttoned asymmetrically.

However, less was more for other brands. Kiton and Brunello Cucinelli were among the traditional Italian men’s wear brands that incorporated straight fit jeans into their office-friendly assortments. The clean, fuss-free washes complicated the labels’ tobacco-hued corduroy jackets and tweed blazers.

At New York Fashion Week in February, designers delivered versatile pieces to suit new hybrid office politics. Khaite zeroed in on the denim-and-blazer cool-girl uniform with jeans that had a tapered balloon shape. Loose-fitting jeans—some with asymmetric back pockets—added a downtown vibe to Tibi’s line. Cuffed boyfriend jeans in washed-down black enhanced Nicole Miller’s polished take on New York punk.

Khaite

Jeans with split hems and belted shackets were among Veronica Beard’s office-friendly pieces. D-ring belts cinched Derek Lam 10 Crosby’s two-toned button-front jean dress and tunic denim top, while Brandon Maxwell focused on lightly distressed straight-leg jeans.

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Denim heads were tricked by Bottega Veneta’s trompe l’oeil leather jeans in Milan. The revived fashion house presented made-you-look jeans and white shirts made with printed nubuck leather.

Textures, in general, were a prominent theme in Italian brands’ collections for the season. 

A coat swathed with “denim fur” was a showpiece in Glenn Martens’ first show for Diesel. Clear coatings enhanced the liquid-like look of Versace’s low-rise wide-leg jeans. The fashion house paired a denim corset top and mini skirt with a deconstructed tweed boucle.

In Paris, brands balanced corset-inspired bodices with loose-fitting jeans, including Dior. Balmain keyed into the corset look as well with a high-waisted jean that zipped up to the bust.

Balmain

Fashion search engine Tag-Walk said there were 64 percent more denim looks in Spring/Summer 2023 collections versus the 2022 season and that 51 percent of designers featured the fabled fabric in their spring collections. 

Denim was a leading trend in men’s collections. Designers in New York, London, Milan and Paris revealed a soft approach to jeanswear by adding unraveled hems, drawstring waists, light washes and loose silhouettes. 

Amiri applied a sun-bleached effect to short-sleeve shirts and matching tear-away jeans. A cloudy shade of blue enhanced the softness of Craig Green’s elastic-waisted jeans and a matching tank. Light ’90s washes allowed Hed Mayner’s oversized silhouettes to take center stage. 

Amiri

It was here when Prada gave double-denim the green light by styling collar-less shackets with jeans and shorts with the same vintage wash. 

Styling reminiscent of the early 2000s punk-pop music scene edged itself into collections as well. Cool TM layered chopped denim vests over cropped tees and cutoff shorts over exposed branded boxers. Skate-inspired long denim shorts also made a comeback. System, Amiri and Louis Vuitton were among the labels giving jorts a second chance.

The amount of destroyed denim alluded to a grunge revival in 2023. Doublet’s ripped slouchy jeans featured an extra-long exposed zipper. Egonlab paired a slim-fitting chopped-hem denim skirt over distressed jeans. Shredded ecru jeans were a bright spot in Etudes’ assortment of yellow-tinted denim. In JW Anderson’s surreal collection, rips and tears on jeans and jackets exposed a layer of twill khaki.

R13 kept the slacker aesthetic alive in New York. The brand’s S/S ’23 collection offered plaid flannel overalls and dresses, checkerboard print graphics and edgy separates made with gray suiting fabric. These pieces contrasted with bleached-out denim shorts, cropped wide-leg jeans and vintage blue baggy jeans.

R13

It also contrasted with the sparkly partywear that many designers showed at New York Fashion Week. Pearl baubles, beaded fringe and quilting decorated Pat Bo’s loose-fit jeans and collar-less jackets. A perennial source for maximalist fashion, Alice + Olivia added elements like crystal fringe trim on cropped jeans. The pairing of a white tulle duster added a bridal element to some looks. Smatterings of white crystal decorated light-wash shackets, jeans and voluminous opera-length gloves by Et Ochs. 

S/S ’23 collections from Europe served denim eye candy as well. GCDS presented a cutout denim miniskirt held together with a crystal-covered logo. Diamond-like crystals and crystal-covered red hearts with daggers gave Philipp Plein’s denim its signature shine. AZ Factory inlaid jean jackets with Chevon-shaped swatches of crystal-covered textiles.

European collections, however, revealed a shift toward yellow-tinted washes as Y2K, moto and grunge trends combine. Blumarine used the dirty-looking wash across its range of goth-tinged denim. Wide wrap belts and brushed gold studs decorated the Italian label’s low-rise flare jeans, shackets, bustier tops, strapless gowns and midi-length dresses.