BPD Expo in New York.

Denim is back, and the market is flush with sustainably made performance blends and cool vintage looks.

Lightweight indigo linen blends, black denim and high-waisted Eighties-style jeans and shorts are leading the upcoming spring season, but consumers’ increased interest in sustainability and high-performing materials has become priority one for brands and retailers vying to meet shoppers’ demands. And as vintage looks gain traction, so does personalization, as one-of-a-kind and customized, reworked vintage pieces are popularizing among consumers in the denim market, according to exhibitors at BPD Expo, a denim industry trade event that was recently held in New York.

Bill Curtin, the founder of BPD Expo and owner of BPD Washhouse, told WWD that sustainability and vintage styles “have been consistently strong over the past few seasons at all levels. From the runway to brands like Wild Fable at Target, vintage is the look. Get ready for bright over-dyed acid wash — it’s back with a vengeance.” Curtin added that the denim market has evolved significantly in recent years: “The market has become more sophisticated, which is a function of social media. Trends are more easily captured by the masses. It has also become more democratic, with [many new] ideas coming from unexpected places. No one is the sole arbiter of what’s cool.”

Shoppers perusing products at BPD Expo in New York. 

And the premium denim market, too, is seeing an uptick in demand for sustainably made, quality products. Citizens of Humanity’s chief operating officer, Federico Pagnetti, told WWD, “For many years, we have been using the latest technology to process our denim products, including laser and ozone technologies, among others. The use of high-quality textiles and long-lasting materials is an important aspect of what we do. We also employ manufacturing techniques that assure the products will last longer, and allow our consumers to enjoy them longer. We are careful to limit the number of products we put into the marketplace. We believe these practices are positive steps in creating a better environment.”

Cassidy Shorts in washed black. (Photo courtesy of Citizens of Humanity.) 

The desire for long-lasting goods in lieu of fast fashion indicates a positive and requisite shift in the consumer mindset. Renee Henze, global marketing director, DuPont Biomaterials, said: “Sustainability has moved even further to the forefront of industry discussions this year and stakeholders are seeking ways to better incorporate the principles of the circular economy into their business strategy,” adding that “high-quality, durable materials enable consumers to use products longer.” Henze agreed that personalization is another rapidly growing trend across various apparel segments, noting that consumers “seek products that both reflect their personal aesthetic, but also their personal values. From a sustainability perspective, this can be rooted in eco-efficient materials, local manufacturing, and other ethical business standards.”

Henze continued, “The demand for transparency in the design and development of apparel and other products has increased significantly in recent years, and more companies are responding by proactively disclosing details on supply chain sustainable operations to meet those consumer needs. In 2019, it will be motivating to see this transparency and personalization continue to take shape through smart technologies, adapted shopping experiences, expanded resources and unique campaigns.”

For more Business news from WWD, see:

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