It’s hard to rework a classic, but brands are increasingly dipping their toes in more fashion-forward denim offerings.

While five-pocket denim bottoms are hardly going anywhere, designers are experimenting with everything from different denim fabrications to departures in silhouettes running the gamut from outerwear and overalls to dresses and skirts.

Anaheim, Calif.-based retailer PacSun made a big push for fall with a campaign focused on denim that played up “Mom” fits, slimmer legs for men, embroidery, side-stripe detailing and distressed details for back-to-school.

There’s Unpublished, a Los Angeles brand that launched roughly a year ago as an affordable contemporary denim label. The company’s seen success in pieces such as a quilted denim bomber jacket, pleated skirt and dress, with a particularly high demand among consumers for the company’s jackets range.

“I personally love using denim in unexpected silhouettes and try to fit it in our collections whenever I can,” said Unpublished creative director Ya-El Torbati. “This usually happens when I find a denim fabrication that really calls for it.”

Torbati went on to say Unpublished’s more fashionable denim business does well and that may be due to designs she called “classics with a twist,” such as piecing.

Editors and others have responded favorably to alternative uses of denim, Torbati said, but buyers, who are much more risk-averse, continue to stick with what the designer called safer styles.

Los Angeles direct-to-consumer denim label DSTLD tends to not stray into anything overtly trendy as a brand created to produce pieces for wardrobe longevity. That being said, the company’s done well with its men’s denim jackets offered in four washes, in a bid to capitalize on the workwear trend.

“That was a way for us to maintain sales in something that’s really a commodity item, but also present it in a more fashion-forward way,” DSTLD design director Paul Roughley said.

On the women’s side, the company’s seen momentum with its spring and summer denim skirts continue for fall, supported by the Nineties trend.

“We tend to tiptoe into the market with a smaller number of units, but if they start to sell well instead of offering new washes, we increase the reorders and we also get more creative on the marketing side,” Roughley said. “We like to stay loyal and really maximize the potential of styles before we expand, so spring 2019 is where you’re going to see expansion in all denim across tops and bottoms.”

That will include use of lighter fabrics with Lyocell blends, nontraditional button-down shirts for men, rompers and overalls.

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