The New Jeans Thing: Features

BERLIN — One of the most pervasive questions in the denim market for the past two years has been: Who is going to find the Next Big Thing, a style change along the lines of low rise that would inspire shoppers to head out to replace their jeans wardrobes?

The problem has been that no one’s found such a dramatic departure that looks like it will sell in large volume. So, rather than worrying about big things, exhibitors at a pair of recent jeans trade shows here focused on the little ones: Embroidered waistbands, novelty buttons, colorful pocket fabrics and other details to make a new pair of jeans appear special to the discerning shopper.

“Constant innovation is the key driver,” said Aidan O’Meara, VF Europe’s vice president of marketing. “We’ve now got a fourth ‘F’ — features, that is, all the styling details — to add to finish, fabric and fit.”

This was a common refrain at the Bread & Butter and Premium jeans shows, which wrapped up on Sunday.

Vendors also put a focus on those three basics. Finishes generally tended toward the subtle, producing the appearance of authentic wear, rather than aggressive blasting. For fabric, while denim remained the obvious mainstay, fall-winter collections included velvet, corduroy and cotton drill — a twill fabric that looks a lot like denim but is woven differently and is heavier in weight. For fit, low-rise, boot-cut jeans remained a mainstay, though slim, straight legs are gaining ground. Tomboy looks also were picking up, with baggier men’s styles downsized to fit women.

“The past few years have been all about the wash, but now it’s about the detailing,” said Alice Flynn, senior vice president of denim and corporate design at Tommy Hilfiger Europe.

The fall Hilfiger jeans collection is intended to evoke the style of an American college student spending a year in England. It juxtaposes vintage-looking blue denim with workwear details and jackets, skirts and tops in a variety of fabrics, including donegals and tweeds, with printed embroidery linings and jeweled buttons for a dressier look. Clean, tailored finishing stars inside the jeans, which are styled with larger and lower-placed pockets.

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