After years of riding high, this style is now the bedridden former rock star of denim, clinging on for dear life as it watches its younger, peppier counterparts steal the limelight. Sure, Kate Moss is still wearing them occasionally, but she’s Kate Moss and I, sadly, am not. Our perception of what looks cool has shifted, and though I’m a little miffed to realise that the skinny jean isn’t, as I had previously thought, my denim life partner, it’s a sign of a greater shift in fashion, and that is always exciting.
The street-style phenomenon, made possible by the growth of digital and social media over the past decade, means that we now have endless inspiration at our fingertips. We can see how real people make clothes and how trends work for them in real life, rather than solely through the creative filter of a major fashion house. This has undeniably made us more adventurous, more confident and far more attuned to our own personal style. In turn, we’re now more diverse in our denim choices, and far less likely to head sheep-like into a mass trend.
Brands such as Vêtements, the Parisian underground collective turned game-changing fashion powerhouse, and London-based Marques’Almeida, have heralded the return of true denim. They’ve reminded us of a pre-skinny golden age when it was thick, stretch-free and more of a statement than just an off-duty staple. Think Farrah Fawcett on that skateboard, Thelma and Louise mid-road trip, Jane Birkin in her spliced and re-stitched flares.
The Jean Trends To Buy Now
1. Split Hem Flares
In recent years, we’ve seen popular jeans styles typified by a true straight leg, loose fit and often turn-ups – boyfriend jeans being the easy departure from the skinny jean. But slimmer styles are creeping back at a snail’s pace, though not quite with the elastane-infused, ankle hugging guise that they used to have. Maintaining our re-awakened love for true denim, split hem flares are the jeans style that allows for a modicum of body con, without creating carrots out of your legs with elasticated fabrics and allowing for a rock-and-roll boot.
Thanks in part to Victoria Beckham, who championed the split-hemmed trew in her SS19 show, the open bottom style has been growing in popularity ever since, with a number of big name denim brands taking it on as signature. M.i.h. for example, have an excellent high rise kick-flare with a front split and Nasty Gal do an excellent split hem in a boyfriend cut for slouchier days.
How to style them? Part of the split-hem’s virtue is that it’s a new concept, and doesn’t sequester itself away in either the ‘smart’ or ‘casual’ categories. Pair it with a roll neck or slouchy tee for grungier moments, or with a blazer and heeled shoe for an evening event.
2. Re-constructed denim
The new wave of denim has seen something quite remarkable – the creation of a ‘cult’ jean that doesn’t involve the production of any new denim at all. Otherwise known as ‘second life denim,’ brands are trading on our partiality for custom styles and two-tone designs, to create covetable jeans styles from salvaged denim. If Kendall Jenner can sport a look that sees two jeans styles spliced together, then so can the rest of us, right?
And plenty of brands are hopping on the bandwagon. Environmentally conscious brand E.L.V. Denim makes jeans from old or discarded denim and can even produce ‘made to measure’ styles, to ensure they hold a true staple position in your wardrobe. They make a pair of straight leg ‘contrast’ jeans in two-tone fabric that are set to be the next ‘it’ style.
They’re not the only ones at it though. Spanish brand Desigual recently partnered with Ecoalf, to produce styles made entirely out of recycled denim. LA-based Re/Done has for a long time had a similar approach, taking vintage Levi’s apart at the seams and repurposing the fabric to create one-of-a-kind jeans that are made all the better by the worn denim.
How to style them? The jeans make the statement, so don’t over-think the rest of your look. Keep the top half of your outfit fairly relaxed. A tee or hoodie works.
3. Green Denim
Nope, not emerald hued jeans. We’re talking planet-friendly denim. Of course, for the true eco-enthusiasts, creating any new fabric from scratch is a nefarious practise, but as the fashion industry still churns on at pace, brands adopting more sustainable manufacturing processes are being heralded as part of the solution.
A whole slew of denim brands have begun pledging to lead the charge for denim innovation. J Brand, for example, committed to becoming one of the only 100% sustainable denim brand before the end of this year. They claim to use 99% less water, plus they recycle hardware and offcuts, as well as laser distressing instead of stone washing their denim.
Los Angeles and London based FRAME similarly have included more sustainably focussed jeans styles.
4. Wide Leg Selvedge
High waisted jeans are everywhere and have been for a long time. This new denim style, however, is essentially the antithesis to the skinny, taking the snug fit out of your jeans and replacing it with an extremely loose fit, in non-stretch denim. Usually cropped to an ankle hovering length, the high-rise wide-leg jean is a nod to the Seventies, but requires no platform boot to make it wearable. The crop lets you show off your – currently on trend- Western-style cuban heel.
This year’s update to a style that has been around a couple of seasons, is the wider leg in a selvedge denim. Selvedge denim is formed using an old-fashioned weaving technique – one performed on a loom, but the practise has been modernised, this was the way denim was created before we bought into the type of machinery that allowed for mass production.
A nod to ‘slow fashion‘, the wider leg jean in a selvedge style is a middle finger to disposable buying habits. The tougher grain means it’s a hardy style to invest in and stands to exist in your arsenal for longer.
How to style them? The emphasis here is on the ankle, so style this jean with a high-heeled patent boot or a trophy shoe. Keep it neat up top with a short jacket.
5. Super Low Rise
Thanks to waify models like Bella Hadid, a trend is emerging for a jeans style just as controversial as the skinny jean when it first took hold. Just as the skinny jean ruled over all other denim styles for years, so has the high-waist. After over-exposure to the 90s and 00s’ pelvis-baring low-slung look, we welcomed the return of the belly-button hugging styles that shot up in rebellion.
But now, after years of every jean style favouring a high waist, we can finally confirm that the rumours are true. The super-low-rise jean is making its return. Pubis skimming, g-string baring low slung jeans (and cargo trousers) are back.
How to style them? A naturally casual jean style, these are best suited to plain white tees and relaxed (even denim) jackets.
This article originally appeared on ELLE UK.