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Image / Style / Fashion

Apparently skinny jeans are on the out — but will their appeal ever truly fade?


By Sarah Gill
25th Jul 2022

unsplash

Apparently skinny jeans are on the out — but will their appeal ever truly fade?

Skinny jeans have had us in a chokehold for quite some time, but it seems like their reign at the top is coming to an end.

The relationship between a woman and her favourite pair of jeans can be quite the tumultuous affair.

Whatever the style — skinny, wide leg, mom jean, the list goes on — even our very favourite pair of denims seems to have trouble staying loyal. Providing the perfect fit in the morning, then slowly becoming a little too clingy, hugging us a tad too tightly as the day stretches on, it’s understandable why many women have trust issues with their jean collection.

However, when the pandemic reared its ugly head, bringing with it lockdown after lockdown, our jeans were relegated to the back of the wardrobe, and in many households, that’s where they still remain.

Now, in 2022, comfort reigns supreme. The skinny jean, which first cast its spell on us back in the mid-00s, has finally been dethroned as the bestselling denim in the US.

In an episode of The Debrief — a Business of Fashion (BoF) podcast hosted by Lauren Sherman — it was reported that straight leg jeans have knocked their skinny predecessors off the top spot.

“Last year, straight leg jeans accounted for 33% of US women’s denim sales,” they report, “compared to 30% of women’s skinny jeans, knocking the form fitting style from the top spot for the first time in at least a decade according to the market research firm NPD Group.”

While that might not sound like all that much of a sharp decline, the figures from two years prior are more illuminating. In 2018 and 2019, skinny jeans accounted for 41% of the total market share for denim, meaning that this drop off could point to the beginning of the end for skinny jeans.

Over the course of the podcast, the BoF correspondents point to the two potential reasons for this decline: the quest for comfort, and ever-changing trends.

It’s no secret that the pandemic put paid to the vast majority of jean-wearing occasions, with many opting to stay in sweatpants and leggings for the duration. Do we still remember jeggings, the not-too-distant relative of skinny jeans?

The power of the jegging has been usurped by athleisure and workout wear, and the concept of a stretchy pair of jeans is growing further from our reach.

Since the advent of social media, trends have fallen victim to a much shorter life cycle, but the denim style of the moment is very much focussed on a less restrictive fit.

Marie Pearson, senior vice president of denim at Madewell, tells BoF that we’re in the midst of a ‘denim Renaissance’, and that although she’s been in the industry for three decades, she’s never seen so many styles and cuts of denim.

Utilising raw denim, these cuts — high rise, boot cut, straight leg — are much more rigid, and offer an alternative silhouette to that of the skinny jean. Reflective of a more universal pull towards gender neutral dressing, typically masculine styles on a feminine frame packs an aesthetic punch.

That being said, I’m pretty sure that the cyclical nature of fashion will keep skinny jeans on shelves for quite some time. While we’re currently in the midst of a Y2K resurgence, it’s only a matter of time before Hollister skinny jeans end up on the rails at vintage stores.