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Perhaps the biggest trend in jeans over the past five years hasn’t been about the various looks or designs, but rather of the labels themselves. While Diesel had long banked on its branding, Seven revived, or at least reinvigorated, the notion of label hunting. Still, the jeans need to look good, and within the midst of the many denim companies that have sprouted recently, a mini explosion of trends have emerged. Here, some of the major jeans looks in the last few years.
This story first appeared in the July 17, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
(1998) LOW RISE: The waistline became the new hemline with the introduction of low-rise jeans. Daryl Kerrigan, who championed the low-rise look beginning in 1991 with her Nineties take on the Sixties hipster, credits “gym culture” with creating the demand for pants that would show off a flat stomach. Alexander McQueen took it down a notch further in 2000 with his “bumster” line that literally went to the bum.
(1998) EMBELLISHMENT: After going through all the possible washes a piece of denim could go through, designers started treating it like an empty canvas, embellishing the staple weave with various designs, from painted dragons to sequined starscapes.
(1999) COLORS:It was inevitable. Jeans took on all the colors of the rainbow, just in case customers got bored of the tried-and-true blue. While it hasn’t stayed on as a jeans regular, be sure it’ll come back again.
(1999) ENGINEERED: Going for function over fashion, Levi’s twisted the seams — literally — in its Engineered line and changed the way consumers looked at clothes altogether.
(2000) WHITE WASHED: Designers turned a blind eye to the rule about wearing white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day and offered white denim year round. White is now a jeans basic, joining the ranks of dark, dirty and its counterpart, black.
(2000) JEANS JACKET: Sometimes a little bit of the rough and tumble was the way to go and jeans jackets were the perfect item. It allowed anyone to apply a casual, rustic look to any skirt or dress.
(2001) VINTAGE/DIRTY: Who wants to wait for jeans to be broken in to perfection when they can be bought off the rack looking like they’ve been around forever? The concept is in keeping with society’s quick-fix mentality and it has come around again in the last five years. The idea isn’t exactly new. Marithé & François Girbaud is credited with starting the pre-fab worn look as far back as 1965, distressing denim with emory boards and stone washes. But they didn’t trademark the process and by 1978 the concept went mainstream as everyone began offering versions of this revolutionary look.