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Denim trends: Y2K festival styles to the skinny vs baggy debate

Woman wearing black top over relaxed-fit jeans
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Sep 06, 2022 By WGSN Insider
Updates from WGSN

The generational divide between skinny and baggy has long dominated conversations in this category. Hear what our experts make of it and take a tour of popular fits through the decades as we explore what the denim industry looks like post-pandemic.

Denim is a fashion category intrinsically linked to lifestyle, both in terms of practicality and cultural and social identity. It had a tough time during the pandemic as our first lockdowns were accompanied by a shift to sweatpants; many feared the category wouldn’t recover, but it did. In fact, the global denim industry is projected to continue growing, with Allied Market Research predicting it will hit $88.1bn by 2030.

The post-pandemic denim industry does, however, look very different from the one we knew and loved. People are passionate about jeans, so the impact is significant when new trends shake things up. How, then, can retailers make the most of consumer hunger to try new denim fits?

Our host for this week WGSN Fashion’s Vice President of Content Francesca Muston, who is joined by Tommy Fahrner, Director of TrendCurve+; Susie Draffan, Senior Denim Strategist; and Nicole Ajimal, Strategist on WGSN Fashion. Join our discussion where we talk about everything from fit cycle data to TikTok and Y2K brand influences, to sustainability and fabric innovation.

Denim high-wasted pants paired with cinched tube top at Way Out West
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The denim debate

“In 2021 there was this big generational war about skinny being dead. It was an interesting time in terms of consumer mindset, where you might have a youth-driven consumer who’s seeing a reinvention of their personal style by delving into baggier fits, but then you'll find a Millennial mum that’s just struggling to homeschool their kid and is working from home and not in the mindset of trying on a new denim fit. Now we’ve had space from that initial online dialogue, more people are getting comfortable trying on new fits. It’s an exciting time for retailers to make that an inviting in-store experience.”
– Tommy Fahrner, Director of TrendCurve+, WGSN

Denim jeans paired with white sneakers at Way Out West
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Festival fashion

“At Coachella this year the biggest trend overall was Y2K style, from low-rise baggy jeans to cargo pants to denim matching sets – so little bralettes and corset tops – which is something we’ve been tracking paired with denim miniskirts. So really, anything noughties. We’re also seeing a return to sexy-dressed up denim at street level.”
– Susie Draffan, Senior Denim Strategist, WGSN

Denim look paired with studded belt at Way Out West
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Denim innovations

“A way to gain comfort in our jeans is by looking at things like weave constructions. At Denim PV we saw knitted constructions for natural stretch, low-impact finishing techniques, high-twist yarns and natural fibre choices. Think fibres of cotton, hemp and linen; all have benefits of breathability, durability and are thermoregulating, which add to the comfort.”
– Nicole Ajimal, Strategist, WGSN Fashion

To hear the full discussion, tune into episode 60 of our Create Tomorrow podcast, Denim Trends: Y2K Festival Styles to the Skinny vs Baggy Debate, on Anchor, Apple and Spotify.

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