Lately we’ve been discussing how brands like 7 for All Mankind and Rock & Republic are expanding beyond denim. According to the following article, the reason for the expansion is because the days of designer denim are numbered.
U.S. jean sales are virtually flat. Between November 2005 and November 2006, Americans bought $15.7 billion worth, according to the NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research company. But in 2007, denim lovers spent just over $15.8 billion, a slight .6% increase.
What to Wear When You Don’t Wear Jeans
What does that mean for the companies who built their brands on distressed pockets and stone washes, often charging hundreds per pair? Robert Cordero, style editor at JCReport.com, a bimonthly online newsletter on emerging fashion trends, says because of the lower demand for denim, labels like True Religion, Rag & Bone and Seven For All Mankind are getting creative with their collections.
“Several years ago, consumers could not get enough of premium jeans,” he says. “Today, however, the market isn’t as strong. Denim labels are expanding beyond their bread-and-butter products to include other categories such as dresses, accessories, knits and jackets.”
Those alternatives provide the same comfortable, casual look as denim but with a fresher, timelier feel, says Allison Berlin, founder of New York City-based personal shopping service Style Made Simple.
This winter, she says, it’s OK for guys to have a little more fun with their bottom half than standard denim allows.
For casual days, cargo pants are back.
“This time, the cargo pant is dressed up,” she says. “It’s not like your worn-out pair from Old Navy.”
Denim seller Rag & Bone, who expanded its line in 2006 to include men’s and women’s ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, showed a dark mushroom-colored pair on the Spring 2008 runway. Unlike mass-market styles, these pants are made with super fine twill and cut trim for a sleeker look.
Dressier occasions call for proper trousers but they don’t have to be too proper. Anything-but-understated pant styles in chalk stripes, tweeds and checks will make looking cool a little more fun than a straight leg, flat wash jean could.
Designer Tim Hamilton’s baggy trousers easily combine comfort and style with a button fly, watch pocket and side pocket, as well as adjustable straps at the waist. These look good paired with deck shoes, Converse sneakers or for a more conservative take, lace-up dress shoes.
For women, the hands-down replacement for denim is the dress.
“Part of the appeal is that a dress is an instant outfit,” says Berlin. “It’s easier to slip on in the morning,” says Berlin.
She suggests pairing a simple shift with opaque tights and flat boots for a day-to-evening look. Designer denim brand Seven For All Mankind, which has branched out into skirts, slacks and yes, dresses, makes a 100% cotton, dove-gray dress with a loose, forgiving silhouette that’s perfect for running weekend errands. It can also be dressed up over a turtleneck and tights for work. There are even discreet pockets on the hips in which to store your keys and wallet, just like your favorite pair of jeans. (DenimBlog Editor’s Note: Do we like this dress, pictured above? I’ll keep my jeans, thanks very much, if this shapeless thing is the alternative.)
Still stuck on denim? Not to worry. “It’ll always be around,” says Berlin. “Right now, there’s just something else more interesting to wear.”
Can anything really flatter the booty as well as a nice fitting pair of denim in a gorgeous wash? We don’t think so.