Delicate, sophisticated, tone-on-tone jacquards in the season’s ruling sky blue shade are replacing the gritty vintage look that has been holding the denim category under its sway. In its place is a range of subtle, flat washes that are quite bright and fresh.
The direction is “more tailored, but not in a boring way. Colors are more delicate and unified, things are less destroyed,” confirmed Pascaline Wilhelm, fashion director at Première Vision. There’s also a move to more simple square forms, like kimono shapes, that require noble fabrics, she said.
For Wilhelm, comfort is more important than ever, with a plethora of less compact, supple and fluid fabrics and “different constructions that give space to suppleness.” Drape, stretch and softness are key.
Underscoring the shift to a lighter mood are soft hands in linen and Lyocell blends, balloon cuts and transparency, like the use of devoré denim, denim lace and laser perforations.
But there’s also a palpable desire to have fun, added Wilhelm, citing the prevalence of plastic finishes, mercerization and coatings, as well as natural spins on shine using fibers like Tencel, silk and viscose or silky cupro, “bordering on couture aspect.” Eye-catching technicolor finishes include hologram foil effects and mélange yarns mixed in the weft.
On the sustainability front, recycled fibers are taking center stage, “moving the needle awfully close to a circular economy,” according to Paulina Szmydke-Cacciapalle, author of the soon-to-be-released “Making Jeans Green.”
She cited among examples Lenzing’s Refibra, which contains wood pulp and cotton scraps left over from manufacturing, or Hilaturas Ferre’s Recover that blends textile waste — of both natural and synthetic origin — into new fiber. “Expect to see more of those for spring 2019, as they also gain acceptance among high-street shoppers,” said Szmydke-Cacciapalle.
“Dyeing denim is still a water and chemically intensive process which causes mills a lot of headache. Among the standout new technologies here is Crystal Clear or Sera Con C-RDA, a novel indigo dye developed by Artistic Milliners and DyStar for G-Star. It does entirely without sodium hydrosulfite, which is pretty much a revolution. And the great thing about it is, it’s open source, so anybody can use it, and they likely will if they want to compete with G-Star’s claim of having ‘the most sustainable jeans ever’ in its portfolio,” she said.
“This is also aesthetically a great time for sustainability. The season offers an ideal platform for softer, thinner denims, which are specifically trending for spring 2019 and which create the perfect playground for greener cellulose fibers such as Tencel,” continued Szmydke-Cacciapalle, adding that with brands upping their ante on embroideries for spring: “Just find an old pair of jeans in your closet and spice it up with some fancy stitching.”
“Taking what’s already there and transforming it into something new and fresh again is the ultimate sustainability mantra — because it doesn’t require any new resources. It’s what the cool kids in London’s East End are doing.”