The latest Intelligence Report on the denim market from Trendalytics reveals a business segment that is “undergoing substantial disruption” as consumer preferences shift while new players leverage the right trends to boost sales.
Researchers at the firm noted that consumer buying decisions are moving from being “brand-driven to trend-driven.” Simultaneously, the popularity of vintage looks is opening the door to new styles and silhouettes, but there are broader changes afoot. The researchers said their analysis revealed the influence of personalization and the “DIY” culture. Sustainably sourced and made products are also reshaping the denim market, as is technology.
“Denim is more than just a fashion trend — its resurgence indicates a cultural shift toward an androgynous aesthetic and an embrace of easy dressing, all while remaining highly Instagrammable,” the researchers said in the report. “These days, the garment itself isn’t enough. Consumers expect their clothes to be part of a larger experience, and to get into their minds and wallets, brands need to provide something special.”
Retailers and brands are responding to this cultural shift by feeding it with DIY choices as well as a high-level of personalization. “Across the market, innovators are coming up with new ways to put the denim consumer in the driver’s seat with in-store experiences and do-it-yourself options,” the report stated. “Selfridges hosted a Tommy x Gigi personalization station; Madewell offers monogramming and embroidery, and MiH Jeans hosted a pop-up ‘Patch Bar’ in London where visitors could customize their jeans. Levi’s Lot 1 crafts one-of-a-kind pieces made by in-house tailors, while 3×1 gives denim- heads a bespoke experience endorsed by mega-influencers including Leandra Medine and Bella Hadid.”
Meanwhile, the firm noted an inflection point for the premium market as fast-fashion retailers begin to solidify their market position. “Although fast-fashion retailers have not been associated with denim in the past, their speed and responsive capabilities make them extremely dangerous as the market moves toward new fits and trends,” the researchers noted.
What also makes fast-fashion retailers formidable is their agility and their ability to push higher profit margins. “Fast players can adopt trends early and shift their inventory into high growth areas, such as distressed and high-waisted skinny jeans,” the researchers said. “Not only are they hitting the right trends, but they are doing it profitably, with 62 percent of women’s jeans at full price versus only 43 percent at full price from specialty retailers.”
The Trendalytics analysts also cited direct-to-consumer brands such as Mott & Bow and AYR as “encroaching” on the denim market via positioning centered on “fit and transparency.”
As a result, the researchers suggest companies invest in “brand differentiators” that can add value and transcend promotional activity. They also suggest making efforts to identify trends earlier as way to test and validate product development or inventory investments.