Denim is back in a big way — on the streets, in the stores and on the runways for both fall and spring 2018. Here, WWD asks retailers in key cities in the U.S., Europe and the Far East about the key trends and what brands are standouts and why.
Danielle Grantham, men’s wear buyer at Harvey Nichols, London
This season we have introduced Purple and Fabric to our brand mix, bridging the styling gap between East and West in terms of the product look and feel and price point. Purple with its New York roots and Fabric with its artisan and traditional denim techniques appeal to customers looking for distressed washes, rip-and-repair details and a skinny-fit jean from denim craftsmen. Looking ahead to next season, we will be bringing Tommy Jeans, CK Jeans and Frame, which will all be great additions to our denim category.
For their opening season within our business, we have seen a really strong performance on Purple’s white skinny jeans and black distressed styles; we are in the process of placing a reorder on these options as demand from customers shows no sign of slowing down. Fabric has seen an incredible reaction from our customers buying into their distressed denim styles, ranging from 600 pounds to 860 pounds, while our core denim brands, Citizens of Humanity and Paige, continue to perform well season after season.
Rachel Cooper, women’s denim and outerwear buyer, Harvey Nichols
Across the women’s wear category, Citizens of Humanity is bang on-trend at the moment; their autumn/winter collection includes key statement styles from velvet, oversized ruffles, patchwork details, cropped flares and raw hems, which our customers are buying into. For our core denim, Paige and J Brand are our biggest volume-driving brands in the category, while new to Harvey Nichols’ regional doors in Manchester and Bristol as well as online is Ksubi. The brand has had a massive resurgence in the U.K. with customers adopting their fun and rebellious style ethos.
The brands have been performing extremely well this season, with key styles such as velvet and coated denim selling incredibly well for us. We have had to repeat on Citizens of Humanity’s velvet jeans in dark green and navy, while Paige’s Verdugo pair in ruby red have also been popular. J Brand’s blue and green coated jeans have had a phenomenal season, too, as we see customers adopting a playful attitude and introducing key colors to their wardrobes. Paige and J Brand are consistently in our top two performing brands for the Denim Gallery, and this season the J Brand X Bella Freud collection was another success story for the category.
Helen David, chief merchant at Harrods, London
Whilst “denim” used to mean “jeans” even a few years ago, denim is now a staple in any fashion-worthy closet. From jeans to denim shirts to trucker jackets, cropped jackets, cutoff jackets, miniskirts, cutoffs, skirts — long and short…denim has taken over!
Re/Done is selling well for us with their perfect vintage styles; Paige remains extremely popular across all styles and washes. Denim jackets across the board in every size and shape are flying with those from Fiorucci the most in demand. Grlfrnd is one of our fastest-growing brands with their embroidered hem jeans being very popular with our customers.
The denim shape of the moment is undeniably a vintage straight leg; this is our number-one investment for the season ahead from a wide range of brands including Re/Done and MiH, both of whom are performing well with this style. We are seeing this shape predominantly in a lightly faded blue wash with a mid- or high-rise waist. This is very much in response to the trend for true vintage denim, but offered in a more modern flattering fit. Much like the longstanding appeal of the skinny, the straight leg continues to drive demand. We’ve also seen the cropped kick-flare and cropped wide leg perform incredibly well from the likes of Mother and Simon Miller.
Kelly Wong, director of fashion, Lane Crawford, Hong Kong
We have seen a shift to seasonal trend-driven denim items among our Millennial customers, who are social media savvy and follow the hot brands and items that [are worn] by celebrities and street style icons. Hottest brands within our portfolio are Amiri, Acne Studios, Denham, Frame, Grlfrnd, Mother, and R13. Our customers particularly love the unique denim details such as distress rips, vintage light washes and uneven hems to represent their individuality and point of view. Millennials are more willing to invest in one-of-a-kind designer brands or statement denim pieces. Therefore we have also seen designer brands incorporating more denim items into the ready-to-wear collections such as Balenciaga and Stella McCartney.
Ariane Zagury, founder of Rue Madame Fashion Group, Hong Kong
One of Rue Madame’s favorite denim brands is Closed – a family business originated in Italy in 1978. They are into great designs and small details; they create pure quality and understated looks. Their denim is handmade in Italy using the finest European cotton. Treating their resources with respect, they continuously try to find new ways to produce their collections more responsibly and with less of an environmental impact, and they periodically send samples to an independent laboratory for pollutant testing. Beyond that, they are loyal, especially when it comes to their manufacturer.
This season, the biggest trends are two-toned and high-waisted jeans. High-waisted jeans will help to elongate your shape. Isn’t it what everyone loves?
Courtney Grant, senior buyer for women’s advanced contemporary, denim and swim at Elyse Walker, Los Angeles
We have a huge denim business. We are definitely known as a denim destination, so what that looks like for customers in L.A. is different things for different people. Our number-one brand for denim is Mother in L.A. just because [cofounder] Lela [Becker] does a great job of touching on trends, elevating her customers, getting them looking current and fresh each season but in a very wearable, lifestyled way. She has a ton of different cuts she does really well. Mother is our bread and butter. We can get basics; we can get approachable, trend styles.
We also really love to see what Re/Done has done in terms of staying relevant and listening to what their clients want. They just launched the Originals collection, which is vintage-looking denim but with new silhouettes and the right amount of stretch to wear every day so it’s that rigid look in new denim ways.
Moussy is a Japanese denim line we introduced a few seasons ago, but our customers are begging for it right now.
We didn’t chase any huge trends this season. The stovepipe is a pretty big trend, which is a super, super high rise with a pretty wide leg. We bought it for the super fashion customer. Red denim – pigmented denim – is on the return, so overdyes. Cotton Citizen had a soft launch but they’re really coming out strong. We just saw them on a lot of influencers at fashion week so we’re really excited to launch those at Elyse Walker in October.
Jeannine Braden, fashion director/buyer at Planet Blue, Los Angeles
Denim is a mainstay. We’re more of a bohemian brand, which speaks really well to denim. We have our in-house brand Blue Life and if you look at Blue Life, everything can merchandise with denim, so it becomes our uniform. Pants haven’t been really big in the market but I feel a demand and resurgence for denim. Our customer seems to react particularly well to washes and wear-and-tear detailing.
I’m finding an affinity towards Mother. Mother is our premium denim line and it’s a little bit on the higher end, and that’s OK. [Customers] respond to it. There’s a sexy, cool girl with Mother and it’s more of a fashionista. They do a really good job of execution with fashion. We have a denim style with stripes down the side; it’s just a different spin on denim. A girl doesn’t own that one so she’s going to buy it.
Our customer also can’t get enough of OneTeaspoon. Being West Coast-based, but now [with stores] across North America, we keep OneTeaspoon shorts as a go-to in our stores all year. I have noticed Show Me Your Mumu started launching more denim and we have had a tremendous response. There’s one style in particular, called the Berkeley Bells. It’s an exaggerated bell silhouette that’s stretchy and fitting. It definitely echoes Seventies rock ’n’ roll.
Lauren Yerkes, vice president of buying and merchandising, Revolve, Los Angeles
Vintage-inspired denim from Grlfrnd, denim with racing stripes, and step hems — both Mother and Frame do these very well. The versatility of jeans can really take it from day to night.
I’m really excited to see color and print back in the line for spring ’18. For holiday, I’m loving the novelty fabrications and details with embellishments like pearls and grommets.
Tracy Margolies, chief merchant, Saks Fifth Avenue, New York
There are no more rules in denim. The fall 2017 collections gave rise to new washes, cuts and trends – there are styles and forms to suit all fashion vibes. And denim remains a staple within our Saks customer’s wardrobe… each season they add another trend-driven style to their mix.
In women’s, this season it’s all about the hem. Frame, along with Rag & Bone/Jean and AG, offer new, exciting hem details including cut, released, staggered and frayed. The attention to the hem gives our customers an opportunity to show off their shoes. L’Agence is quickly becoming a go-to denim brand for its sexy, clean yet dressed-up styles with amazing fits.
Frame has the most fashion-forward interpretation of the current denim trends, washes and fits. Our customers look to Frame for the newest and best versions of the latest craze.
Leah Kim, executive vice president, general merchandising manager of Barneys New York
Barneys New York is launching Jean Atelier, an exclusive denim brand from denim pioneers Jerome Dahan and Noam Hanoch. Jean Atelier features innovative silhouettes and details not available from anybody else. There are unique hardware details, as well as tailored silhouettes that accentuate the waist. It’s denim that can be worn as ready-to-wear. The Flip jean is a favorite. The foldover waistband detail adds sartorial flair.
Moussy is a premium Japanese denim brand based in Tokyo, known for vintage-inspired rigid jeans. We love Moussy denim for its authenticity and great fit.