PARIS — A new tailored take on jeans is set to take some of the limelight from the market’s enduring skinny stretch styles, according to designers at the two-day Denim by Première Vision trade fair that ended here on June 3.
Held for the first time at the Halle Freyssinet venue, a sprawling industrial warehouse in Paris’ 13th arrondissement, the event attracted a record 1,990 visitors, marking a 34 percent increase over last June’s edition.
“It’s gone very structured and is all about formalwear,” said Melissa Belcher, a buyer for Topshop who cited Celine’s fall show as a major influence. “It’s very Parisian.”
The store is touting flares for spring, with a strong Seventies Biba influence coming through, Belcher said.
Gudrun Kloepsch, a design assistant for Victoria Beckham’s denim line, said the brand is adding more formal styles.
“We’re going away from the bleached and worn look, and adding boot cuts and more clean, tailored styles,” she said.
Adriano Goldschmied identified the trouser as denim’s new mainstay.
“The chino, the trouser, the clean look,” said Goldschmied, who presided over the show’s first edition of the Future Denim Designers Award.
The winner was Central Saint Martins student Gabriella Massey, who impressed the jury with her artfully destroyed washes, achieved using bleach and caustic soda.
Currency fluctuations and rising cotton prices, which have jumped almost 50 percent in the last year, were hot topics at the show. Several weavers said they had to increase prices 10 percent.
“There’s a lot of pressure on prices; the impact has been quite high,” said Rajesh Gupta, design and development head for India’s Arvind Mills, which churns out about 100 million meters of denim a year. “Brands are increasing production volumes and we are now overbooked.”
Black denim, mirrored surfaces, denim shirting and draped denim figured among other key trends surfacing at the fair. A fluid drop-crotch rayon version of the “jegging,” or denim legging, by Turkey’s Isko attracted a lot of interest from designers.
Robert Jonsson, head of fabric and wash development for H&M, cited loose, draped constructions among key new directions.
“Especially for girls, we’ll see low-crotch, carrot styles,” he said, adding the mood for men’s will be vintage workwear.
Edward Foster and Meera Sleight, print designers for Liberty Art Fabrics, revealed they were hunting for a weaver to develop a printed denim fabric line for Liberty for spring 2011.
Several premium denim brands and weavers presented luxury qualities. Tavex was among a handful of brands introducing cashmere and wool denim blends.
“The future of denim design, at least at premium level, is a kind of luxury look in denim, using new fibers like Tencel, micro modal and Cupro,” Goldschmied said. “It’s not only about cotton anymore.”
Topshop’s Belcher said, “Brands like Citizens of Humanity and GoldSign are using rayon blends with a velvety touch, and that’s the way to go.”
David Bardin, export manager for Tavex Europe, said premium denim has to represent real value, not just marketing, in order to connect with more discerning customers.
“We want denim to reach a higher level,” Bardin said. “For women’s wear, especially, it has to be very different.”
Novelty denim was in big demand, weavers said. Innovations included a warp and weft indigo-dyed jean by Japan’s Kurabo, an “emotional jean” that changes color with heat by Denim Valley from Royo and an eco-friendly “wine jean” range by South Korea’s Eco Yaa involving denim dipped in wine tannin, grape callus extract and sprout compounds. The properties in wine are supposed to help prevent chafing.
While the jegging has become a household name, few will have heard of the “jeather,” a new denim concept by Isko combining a jean form with a leather-like finish.
Despite the innovations, it’s stretch that continues to monopolize demand, weavers said, with skinny jeans here to stay for at least three more years.
The men’s market has also caught the stretch bug, though with a focus on comfort, not cling.
“The whole trend toward superstretch is driving people who were not doing stretch at all before to get into stretch with Lycra,” said Jean Hegedus, Invista’s global marketing director. “What we believe is that when the consumer experiences the comfort, they don’t want to go back.”
Turkish weaver Orta Anadolu introduced stretch men’s denim at the event.
“We’re promoting a stretch denim weave for men’s wear,” said Burak Baykaldi, the firm’s product engineer. “The idea is to be comfortable while keeping the rigid look.”
Also targeting men’s wear, notably the skateboarding sector, Invista’s Cordura brand launched its Cordura Denim fabric at the event. Traditionally servicing the military and workwear sectors, Cordura’s first commercial applications were for backpacks for Eastpak and JanSport in the late Seventies.
Cynthia McNaull, global brand manager for Cordura, said the firm’s experience developing durable but comfortable fabrics made the denim market a natural next step. A stretch version is also in the works.
Cordura’s target demographic for the new fabric is the 15-to-35 age group, with an initial emphasis on 15- to 25-year-olds.
“They know our fabric,” McNaull said. “They’ve been carrying the backpack and we’ve just launched a Vans Cordura shoe line called Syndicate. Soon we’re going to have offerings from head to toe.”