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The new agenda for denim

Ksensia schneider (2)

Drapers speaks to brands, retailers and experts to find out the top-performing trends, brands and predictions for the future of denim

Olivia cantillon

Olivia Cantillon

Olivia Cantillon, founder, womenswear ecommerce site Own the Look

What is selling well at the moment in terms of denim?

When we launched Own the Look, I was really focused on having some staple core denim brands that simply supplied jeans. It has been interesting because the simple denim jeans aren’t the styles that are flying out of the door. 

Styles that take a more “fashion”, forward-thinking approach to denim is what is selling. Jeans with high street price points and details such as frayed hems, a cropped length or embroidery are the styles doing well. Fashion denim is selling a lot better than the staple skinny jean.

Why are people looking for “fashion” denim?

Buying denim online is a really tricky thing. If you’re trying to invest in jeans for £100- and you haven’t worn that brand before, you may be a lot more hesitant to buy.

Our fashion jeans are a much lower price point.They’re only going to last you a season or two because they’re very trend led, but because of the price point people are more prepared to give things a go and buy into the trend.

Own the look brand cubic (2)

Cubic autumn 18

What brands are performing well?

Cubic, it focuses on denim in a really playful way, with exaggerated hems, step hems and embroidery. They have sold really well for us this season.

What do you think are the best denim brands around at the moment?

When I buy jeans for myself I look at a premium price point, because I know that the quality is going to be there and they will last me year after year. Frame, Paige, J Brand – the classic denim brands. They are now offering much more than the basic skinny jean.

Denim has evolved so much compared to a few years ago. I would consider that jeans weren’t really a “cool” thing to be wearing 10 years ago. Now denim has so much to offer that jeans can be worn in the workplace and on a night out – they are so versatile. 

Are there any new brands you are watching?

One of the brands that I think is really key in terms of staple denim is the LA based brand Articles of Society. It provides amazing fit denim jeans.

What trends have been performing well for you?

The cropped flare is number one for us, raw hem lines are number two and embroidery has also been popular this season.

I’ve seen a lot of printed denim for next season and into spring 19. There are florals and animal prints all incorporated within the denim fabric.

I feel the skinny has lost its way, women instead are looking at straight leg styles and crop flare shapes. Generally, shapes are a lot more relaxed. Fits are much easier to wear and denim isn’t something that is stiff and uncomfortable.

Loose-fitting denim is making a comeback and women are feeling a lot more comfortable to not be so body conscious. They’re buying into a much more relaxed fit and a fashion-forward approach.

Nikki t asos

Nikki Tattersall

Nikki Tattersall, womenswear buying director at Asos

There is a huge focus on sustainability and low-impact environmentally: 100% of the Asos Design Denim range will be made from sustainable cotton from January 2019. We are excited to launch Dutch label Kings of Indigo for autumn 18 and Tomorrow Denim, both brands offering fully sustainable jeans collections. Consciousness is everywhere but the trends and price point have to be right.

Hero denim brands such as Levi’s, Tommy Jeans and CK Jeans are enjoying continued success on the back of the 1990s trend. Vintage denim is having a great season on [boutique platform] Asos Marketplace with about 10,000 styles online, covering everything from classic aged stonewash to brightly printed original 1990s styles from iconic brands.


Kelly harrington

Kelly Harrington

Kelly Harrington, denim designer and trend forecaster

Which denim brands are selling well at the moment?

The most popular denim brands right now are those that have embraced the premium streetwear trend with urban utility styling and a civil workwear twist. So think of Off-White, workwear trends at Carhartt, the clean, raw urban lines of Helmut Lang. Industrial high-vis at Calvin Klein.

Those brands that push boundaries cut up, remake and re-edit, as well as the luxury market brands.

Which do you think are the best denim brands right now?

Those that have taken the more sustainable mindset and thought about a circular fashion industry and integrated this with a high fashion concept. These days it is possible to create a circular fashion system with a fashion forward approach.

Some of the best denim brands of today think about design, styling, sustainability, gender neutral and individuality and this is why they are successful. Tortoise Denim, Reformation, Eden, Blanche, Re/Done, G-Star Raw new brand Ullac and London-based designer Bethany Williams are some of the best on this front.

Ksensia schneider (3)

Ksenia Schnaider

Are there any new brands you are watching?

There are plenty of new or slightly quirky brands I have my eye on, not necessarily just denim brands, but those who push boundaries within the denim market. I like Martine Rose, Ksenia Schnaider, B Sides, Feng Chen Wang, Brú Na Bóinne, Ih No Muh Nit, CeCe and Denimcratic. 

What trends have been popular?

The “mum” jean is still popular, as are the straight-leg vintage styles in 100% cotton.

What trends are you anticipating for next season?

The continuation of the Western, Americana theme, where we patch, remake and upcycle denim with off-cuts. The look is hand made and hand crafted.

In contrast to that we still see an emphasis on the early 1990s and 2000s trends, with tummy-baring low-waist jeans, cargo pants and streetwear branding. Utility and military are also key.

Dio 3

Dio Kurazawa

Dio Kurazawa, denim director, WGSN

Which denim brands are selling strongly for retailers?

Anyone creating something that isn’t the typical denim has got a lot of attention. This plays into the trends at the moment – with lots of sportswear, tailoring and unique craftsmanship.

Brands such as 3x1, Victoria Beckham, Off-White, SJYP, Sacai, 424, Palm Angels, MSGM, Facetasm and Martine Rose.

In every segment of fashion things are being made a bit more original. It’s about individuality. Denim is moving into other silhouettes, blending with other fabrics, and being bolder and more statement.

Which do you think are the best denim brands at the moment?

We focus a great deal on social responsibility, and so often highlight brands that are also focused in this arena. Denim, because of the processes involved, can be a pretty nasty business, so a lot of brands have focused a great deal on sustainable solutions: recycling fabrics and using closed loop solutions.

G-Star Raw has produced the most sustainable denim so far, which is [innovation standard] Cradle to Cradle Gold certified. Bonum from Japan recycles everything and upcyle, as does Ukrainian brand Ksenia Schnaider. Alyx Studios are really pushing forward in sustainability as well. Art Comes First, Willy Chavarria, B Sides, DL 1961, MiH Jeans, Patagonia, Nudie Jeans, AG, Re/Done, Reformation and Kowtow are also working strongly in this area.

What other new brands do you think are worth watching?

B Sides, Ksenia Schnaider, Alexander Wang, Eytys, Alyx, Off-White, Willy Chivarria, Ryan Hawaii, Art Comes First, Jaden Smith’s new Denim Collection with G-Star Raw, MSGM, M1992, MYOB, SJYP and Pushbutton.

Hodg men fw18 0212

Liam Hodges autumn 18

What trends are popular at the moment?

Digital printing in denim, with animal prints or landscapes at Supreme and MSGM. Random wash, which creates a tie-dye, ombre look, such as at Liam Hodges.

Utility is still huge, with cargo and built in pockets but we’re seeing a clean tailored look at Carhartt WIP and Fortie Label.

Prints are also big and sportswear is also still influential.

What trends are you looking at for next season?

Sport-core, tailored looks and hand-crafted styles. People are becoming more adventurous. If you look at the youth of today, the silhouettes are very much out there and directional. That market is not interested in the traditional skinny jeans or regular-fit five-pocket jeans.

Wide-leg shapes are popular for men and women – it’s almost an ode to the 1990s.

High waists are still in for women, but there is a lot of talk that the low waist may be on the way back.

Debra mccann

Debra McCann

Debra McCann, owner, London-based independent store The Mercantile

Which denim brands are selling well at the moment?

For us Dr Denim, Rolla’s and Sideline are performing well.

Dr Denim we’ve stocked successfully for years, it is well priced and now uses a lot of organic cotton.

Rolla’s is new and something different.

With the brand Sideline we’ve been building a really good regular clientele. They are a small brand, unique, classic, well made, well priced and not everywhere

Are there any new brands you are watching?

I’m buying into more and more organic and sustainable brands and Armed Angels have made a waterless denim which I think is the way forward. Denim is one of the biggest pollutant categories of the clothing industry.

In terms of trends, non-skinny styles have been great. Dr Denim does a fantastic array of options and the Nora [a high waist, tapered leg style] is a sell out.

What trends are you looking at for next season?

For spring 19 we have bought all sort of shapes and fits except skinny. We’re still selling skinny and slim but there are just a lot more shapes and fits on offer now – mainly looser shapes: square, mum, dad or carrot leg. There seems to be less snobbery about the brand name now, and more focus on cut and silhouette.


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