In all seriousness, we’d be bereft without jeans. They’re the sweet spot between a tracksuit and something inescapably formal. But, due to the pandemic, 2020 was not a stellar year for them – they were even the subject of derision on Twitter.
Still, given that 2020 is now behind us, it’s time to be excited by jeans again. “Denim is a living concept just like it’s a living fabric that fades and changes,” says Selin Akman, head of design at sustainable denim manufacturer ISKO. And some change is afoot indeed. Here are the 2021 denim trends to embrace in advance of lockdown ending – hopefully – forever.
In spite of all the devastation it caused, there is one thing we can give the pandemic credit for: comfort. Selin agrees: “the need for comfort was always important, but the pandemic has amplified this need,” he states. “2020 saw us spend more time at home than ever before. Because of that, there’s a demand for clothes that balance comfort and style, including denim,” says Francesca Toninato, global CEO at 7 For All Mankind. “Relaxed and straight leg jeans are [the] most popular right now,” she advises. Aside from them being comfortable, it’s their “vintage vibe” – as Francesca describes it – that’s also responsible for their appeal. This denim trend also presents the perfect opportunity to experiment with menswear. Or, more specifically, these jeans by Bianca Saunders. Here’s to crotch liberation.
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For Anna Foster, founder of E.L.V Denim, “if you are buying something new, it should be special, something different that stands out.” On that note, could we interest you in coloured denim? “As we begin to come out of lockdown, I foresee … the need to reflect positivity through colour,” Selin tells us. “Colour in denim, either with overdye, tie dye, prints, or all of these combined … is a trend I think we will see everywhere.” Iterations of coloured denim are of course as diverse as colour itself. Take these Ulla Johnson jeans, for example. To some people, they’re just grey; to others, they’re a lovely lavender. Either way, you’ll also nail the relaxed denim trend in them. And if acid wash is not your thing, another colourful pair surely will be.
The fashion industry has been talking a lot about sustainability as of late, and with good reason: it's responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions. And, given that it takes more than 2500 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans, denim is even more lethal for the environment. While it’s not so much a trend as a movement, sustainability is too salient not to include here. But that doesn’t mean it has no aesthetic influence: “we see a lot of upcycling ideas with personalised touches,” says Selin. “This has a direct connection with the importance of sustainability in the denim world.” And other denim brands recognise this importance too. “During the pandemic our contrast colourways have been our bestsellers,” says Anna. And, sure enough, it’s their contrast jeans that are the most visibly upcycled. “By only using post-consumer waste to make E.L.V. Denim pieces, the material we use has zero impact on the environment, plus we are giving discarded jeans a second life,” she continues. Reformation have been doing their bit for sustainable denim since joining the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign Initiative in 2019. They now focus on developing denim that is made to be circulated rather than wasted – although the latter seems unlikely given how nice the jeans are.