“It’s a must-have item, so if you’re updating anything, it’s your jeans.”
THE SKINNY (AND STRAIGHT) ON JEANS
Denim Storms Into Spring ’10 In Strong Silhouettes
Mashing up two trendy items to create a hot front page is not just about “TomKat,” “Brangelina,” or “Bennifer.”
Take jeggings: though the name might sound like some sort of home improvement tool, they are actually one of the most in-demand looks in denim right now (jeans + leggings = jeggings). Also to be found in spring’s chic denim circle: skinny jeans that puddle at the ankle — stopping just above the foot to show off an exquisite statement shoe, be it a sky-high heel, a funky sneak or fun flat — as well as straight-cut boyfriend jeans that are rolled up at the bottom.
Denim, the go-to item that remained strong right through the recession, is still the cultural favorite. Rather than upset the apple cart, retailers and designers are simply putting the tried-and-true classic through yet another revitalization.
“It’s a must-have item, so if you’re updating anything, it’s your jeans,” says Tom Kolovos, a Chicago-based stylist who contributes to NBCchicago.com, and pens “On Style/Off Topic.”
On average, women have eight pairs of jeans in their wardrobe, according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ survey. Nearly half of all women (48%) say they have purchased the same number of jeans in the last 12 months as in the previous year, and 20% of Monitor respondents say they have purchased more.
“When the recession hit, people wanted to know, ‘What’s the easiest and cheapest way for me to update my wardrobe,’ and I’ve been saying it’s by getting a new pair of jeans,” Kolovos says. “People live in them. It can be dressed up or down. It’s the most important thing in your wardrobe.”
It is also important to retailers: women’s denim is an $8.4 billion business, according to The NPD Group, Inc./Consumer Tracking Service. Here in the U.S., total denim dollar volume sales for the 12 months ending November 2009 were $16.8 billion, up 3.6% from the same year-ago period.
Denim has remained a strong category because most women pull jeans on four days a week, and those aged 13-24 wear them five times a week, according to the Monitor survey.
At top brand Levi’s, directional silhouettes that women feel good wearing is key, says Erica Archambault, spokesperson.
“I think it will continue to be about the skinny, the jegging and the boyfriend,” Archambault says. “But it’s all about being comfortable, and for that jeggings are just rolling off our shelves. They’re great because they look like a jean, but feel like a legging since there’s so much stretch to them. These also have great recovery so they don’t end up falling around your ankles. And the boyfriend look is looser, but rolled up and paired with a great, sexy heel and going out top is really flattering and trend-right,” Archambault adds.
Most women (75%) buy denim at least once a year, and 41% pick up new jeans every six months or less, according to Monitor data. Among 13-24 year olds, 72% make new denim purchases within six months, as do nearly half (48%) of women ages 25-34.
The category remains so vital that new lines and interesting partnerships continually crop up. Just recently, J Brand was acquired by Star Avenue Capital, which is part of a partnership that includes powerhouse talent agency CAA. In another move, mogul twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen announced they are adding premium denim to their Elizabeth & James label.
Although those two announcements deal with the higher end of the market, women spend about $35 on average for jeans, according to the Monitor survey.
Archambault says Levi’s sweet spot is $58 to $68. “With what’s been going on in the economy, people still want great finishing and fit, and extras like selvage denim, but they don’t want to pay the $250 price tag,” she notes.
Kolovos says the denim trends this spring will be “longer and looser tops with the skinny denim — I’m a huge fan of the Always Skinny jean from Gap — and form-fitting tops and cropped jackets with the boyfriend bottom.”
As for color, Kolovos says spring will bring plenty of gray and white, as well as light pastels, with deeper colors like electric blue reserved for the younger set.
Levi’s is offering destructed styles that have a well-used look about them; modern interpretations of tie-dyes that have a soft, watery appearance; and light indigos with soft, salt-washed color.
Says Archambault, “Spring’s look is loved and worn-to-perfection jeans.”
This story is one in a series of articles based on findings from Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor™ tracking research. Each story will focus on a specific topic as it relates to the American women’s wear consumer and her attitudes and behavior regarding clothing, appearance, fashion, fiber selection and many other timely, relevant subjects.