We are living in a material world, so mills have to try just as hard as designers to stay on top of the trends. Design developments in jeans that range from low-rise stovepipes to high-waisted wide legs have led manufacturers to experiment with blends that can be used to execute dramatic, distinctive fits. Activewear designers continue to employ denim to close the gap between performance apparel and streetwear, and mills provide them with performance blends incorporating strong Cordura nylon or temperature-managing Thermolite and CoolMax polyester.

Designers, however, aren't always the ones sparking innovation. Some manufacturers are at the forefront of developing denims that incorporate organic cottons and lyocell fibers from wood pulp. Others are developing fun concepts such as denim coated in aloe vera for freshness or startlingly thin denims that incorporate stainless steel.

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