The sun has gone down on skinny jeans.
After dominating the denim scene since the mid-1980s, this style has recently been dethroned by wider, 90s-reminiscent fits.
Skinny jeans have kept a hold on consumers for years, especially in the early 2010s, defying repeated predictions from model specialists that the development had run its course. Until the pandemic has shuffled the cards.
When skinny jeans were best-sellers in denim: Saint Laurent spring-summer 2015 menswear collection by Hedi Slimane
Skinny jeans are going out of style
A mix of work-from-home and fashion and cultural changes, along with a good dose of nostalgia for the 1990s and early 2000s, led to the rise of baggy jeans and cemented the shift towards softer matches.
What’s replacing skinny jeans? Wider styles, such as slim, relaxed and baggy, are what you want to wear instead. These styles are gaining share in the jeans market, mainly due to the popularity of the so-called mom and boyfriend jeans and a resurgence of 80s and 90s fashion.
For two years, customers worked from home in their pyjamas, leggings or sweatpants. Now, as they return to the office and an increasing number of social events, many people are still looking for a comforting component.
Pandemic times and Gen Z have killed skinny jeans
According to the American market research company NPD Group, skinny jeans were the most popular denim style for women sold in the US for years; as lately as 2019, they made up 41% of ladies’ denim gross sales.
As NPD Group’s Apparel Industry Analyst Maria Rugolo said, “Last year, the share had fallen to 30% while straight-leg denim accounted for 33% of gross sales for girls, beating out the high-stitched fitted model for the primary time in no less than a decade.”
The styles that gained the most revenue in 2021 versus pre-pandemic 2019 were straight fit, flare and boot cut, as wider-leg jean styles began making inroads into market share.
For spring-summer 2021, Valentino's Pierpaolo Piccioli collaborated with Levi's to take the iconic 1969 517 boot-cut jeans down the catwalk
In 2021, straight-leg jeans became the best-selling fit, accounting for one-third, or $3.3 billion, of women’s jeans market revenue.
Skinny jeans were the only style to experience a revenue decline last year versus 2019, even though Baby Boomers increased their spending on these models, accounting for 12% of all women’s skinny jeans sold in the US (+3% compared to 2019).
The fast growth of looser styles – be it baggy, straight-leg, or wide-leg jeans
“Comfort wear trends, accelerated by the pandemic, have shifted jeans trends towards looser fits,” said Maria Rugolo. She also added, “The rise in various styles has opened up consumers of all ages and generations to more variety and options at just the right time. Consumers were looking to branch out beyond the styles that had been sitting in their closets for over a year.”
Some retailers now expect consumers to want a variety of jeans styles, while others are jettisoning the skinny jeans altogether.
Is denim still a trend?
With many people wondering how consumers might choose to dress up in the future, denim now has the opportunity to be on both ends of the spectrum.
“It can help fulfil casual everyday needs while also offering a versatile, dressy option for those not ready or willing to get back into structured wardrobes,” Rugolo explained. “Having consumers interested in various fits, styles and uses keeps the overall category trendy and brings interest and sales along with it.”
A.P.C., a French clothing brand founded in 1987, first gained renown for its classic jeans in raw denim
Among the most popular brands, besides the world-famous Levi’s and Lee, there are also some new fashionable labels such as AG Adriano Goldschmied Jeans (that also collaborated with Alexa Chung), Closed, A.P.C., Boyish, Mother (Meghan Markle’s favourite!), Re/done, Agolde, Jeanerica and last but not least R13.
What jeans will be in style for spring-summer 2022?
The new wide denim trend is the leitmotif of this summer. The season’s ready-to-wear collections showed on catwalks an extensive overview that reveals denim in all its possible stylistic forms.
Etro spring-summer 2022 ready-to-wear collection
At Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton prefers to alternate it with black leather; Etro contrasts it with oriental motifs such as the iconic Paisley on the wide legs, and DSquared2 plays with patchworks of different types of denim on baggy jeans.
Balenciaga spring-summer 2022 fashion show
For Balenciaga and MSGM, the fits are loose and flare; for Dior, Saint Laurent, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini and Coach, jeans are straight and matched with denim blazers for a sartorial touch.
Even skinny jeans guru Hedi Slimane has switched his signature spindly silhouette for an oversized fit
Celine’s spring-summer 2022 collection was the most surprising.
Celine's spring-summer 2022 womenswear collection by Hedi Slimane
Even the brand’s creative director Hedi Slimane, whose tight-fitting and high-rise skinny jeans were a signature, has almost completely removed this design from the season.
With the new preference for oversized fits, the inclusion of wide silhouettes in Slimane’s collection is not extraordinary but certainly notable!