As the premium denim industry adjusts to customers’ preference for ath-leisure, influences like yoga pants, hyperstretch jeans and woven textiles with a knit-like feel are emerging as top trends for 2016.
At Isko’s Denim Vibes seminar held last week at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, the Turkish textile mill presented what it believes men and women will want in the coming seasons — jeans that answer the demand of consumers for fashion and comfort and that are as comfortable as stretchy activewear with near-perfect recovery but which still bear a resemblance to rigid denim.
Isko began developing knit-like denim fabrics more than five years ago, when executives witnessed the plethora of women wearing yoga clothes on the streets of Los Angeles. Baris Ozden, Isko’s senior fabric developer, said his team looks to street fashion in major cities as the compass for what’s next.
“There are many people on the streets who are very inspirational,” he said. “They know what they want and they create their own style.”
Denim is getting closer to competing with knits as the ultimate comfort fabric with stretch technology that allows skinny jeans to reach the same level of flexibility and recovery as a pair of workout pants. Ozden said that, according to a study by Invista, more than 85 percent of women wash their jeans not because they are dirty but because they are losing shape. The newest stretch fabrics available for 2016 were touted to have high elasticity, providing a slim and sexy appearance while still feeling comfortable, recovering well and holding their shape over a longer period of time.
Stretch was important for the men’s market as well, although with certain conditions. Moreno De Angelis, director of Iskoteca, Isko’s wash research and development center, showed off samples in a flexible denim incorporating 20 to 35 percent stretch that had been treated with chlorine, bleach or resin, or subjected to scraping or sandblasting. Afterward, they still maintained elasticity and a semblance of genuine vintage rigid denim.
“The challenge for us is to be authentic and masculine, to be really denim, even though you have such a high elasticity,” he said.
The conversation also ventured beyond jeans, addressing the trend that denim is used for a variety of different silhouettes, from jackets and jogger pants to dresses and tops. An example of reversible joggers in a woven fabric that looked like a French terry knit elicited an audibly favorable response from the audience because it illustrated the rich character of denim in a new light. The knit-like denim fabrics offer the best of both worlds: the softness and drape of a knit with the faded indigo appearance that consumers expect from true denim.
“Some people do indigo-dyed knit fabrics but the problem is you cannot wash or treat [them] like five-pocket jeans,” said Ozden. Now, with these new woven fabrics, he said designers could make a pair of faded and distressed indigo jeans that have the comfortable feel of wearing knit sweatpants.
“If you’re doing an activewear type of group, you can give your activewear a denim look,” he said.
Designers from brands including Hudson Jeans, Seven For all Mankind, J Brand, Joe’s Jeans, Level 99, Lucky Brand, J. Crew Group, True Religion and Frame Denim attended the event.