By: Ivan Yaskey
For years, you had two choices: jeans for casual days, and khakis for the office. Your closet would have a suit for those special occasions, and for when you’d be extra lazy, and strictly at home, sweatpants would do.
But, menswear’s growth in sales coincided with an explosion of style choices. Joggers aren’t just for the gym – and you’re just as easy to find them in a nylon blend as you are a fleece-like poly/cotton combination. Then, chinos’ slimmer fit overtakes khakis any day. And, if you’ve got to look polished for the office, flat-front pants with just a bit of stretch also beat the ‘90s staple. In between, novelty looks, like moto pants, velvet, or any patterned satin style, simply reflect the times.
But, those choices are eclipsing the classics, according to a recent Business of Fashion report. For womenswear, ultra-casual options like leggings and yoga pants simply seem more comfortable than even stretch denim. The culprit? The lack of variety. For guys, it’s all been every variation on skinny – from spray-on to slim – with the occasional wider cut or dad jean. Yet, 2017 marked a reversal in some cases. As the report points out, Levi Strauss & Co. saw an eight-percent increase in revenue, with their revived and expanded women’s styles fueling their biggest jump since 2011.
Menswear, on the other hand, isn’t getting left behind. More than halfway over, 2018 marks a new direction:
Light and White
Bleach out all of the indigo, or keep it as white and bright as your sneakers. In either instance, denim’s veered toward sun-bleached shades reminiscent of spending all day out on the beach. It’s a mark of both leisure and precision: You’ve got all the time in the world, and the means to keep your jeans pristine and smudge-free. Off White essentially set the example, but through all price ranges and cuts, barely to no blue signifies the highest echelon for this casual staple.
Predictability may be responsible for denim’s temporary moratorium. After all, the consumer knows what to expect: a slim to boxy fit, five-pocket construction, a midrise waist, and stiff material with a hint of stretch. Routines, with some time, get dull.
Likely in response, brands have been reworking their silhouettes. Case in point, the push toward high-waisted pants through 2017 and into 2018. Or, what’s considered the new “dressy” jean: Embroidery along the top and sides for a clear reference toward craftsmanship and individuality. Of course, studs and other embellishments aren’t off the table, and for a patchwork style, Vetements introduced what’s primarily been a female-centric look through a collaboration with Levi’s. Ultimately, your denim shouldn’t ever look run-of-the-mill, with emphasis on DIY-like alterations.
Whatever you call it – “frayed,” “ripped,” or “destructed” – clean lines should only apply to the outseam. Everything else in between is fair game. Essentially, another DIY trend, ripped denim sets itself apart as an ‘80s throwback. But, for a modern update, stay away from the tapered silhouettes – it simply looks like you wore out your work pants – and opt for a skinny to spray-on fit with varying degrees of distressing
Because, why not? Tech apparel – fashionable but functional – has taken over every aspect of menswear over the past few years: footwear of all types, streetwear lines partnering with heritage outdoor brands, and ordinary pieces enhanced with tech properties. On the denim front, you’ll notice this with an extra-stretchy fit – but the actual look and feel retain their authenticity – and all that sweat the cotton absorbs? Forget about it. Moisture-wicking, quick-drying properties – long a staple of activewear – give this everyday casual essential a whole new level of comfort.
Yes, of course, dad jeans are included. But, from ripped denim toward wider-legged, high-waisted flared ‘70s silhouettes, 2018’s denim trends are having a best-of moment. Forgettable styles – think acid wash and pegged denim pants – don’t make the cut, but you can pretty much find every decade’s most definitive looks, up to the early aughts, brand new and retooled. Whatever you pick – from wide and structured, as if you’re a star of a seminal ‘70s flick, to wide and baggy, like a late ‘90s raver in JNCOs – always modernize it. Otherwise, you risk giving off period cosplay vibes.
Call them “ultra-skinny,” call them “jeggings” or “spray-on,” but whatever you do, always seek out the right fit. With skinny jeans taken to the max, extra elastane adds that stretch factor. Yet, nothing should be too skin tight – you’ve still got to be able to move – and the style generally over-accentuates muscular legs. Added to this, should you want to try the trend, avoid anything overly shiny or with a polyester look – at that point, you’re in meggings territory. Even when tight and stretchy, jeans should still have that woven-and-dyed denim construction.