We all love denim, but what keeps us buzzing about it? What makes us hunt down the latest cut or wade through mountains of the stuff at sample sales?
There was only one woman we could turn to for answers and that was UK-based Amy Leverton, Head of Denim and Youth at industry trend-forecasters WGSN.
Despite being in Barcelona at the Denim by Premiere Vision, one of the busiest and most exclusive denim trade events around, she still managed to squeeze in some time to talk about the good stuff with us.
So why do we keep wearing denim? Amy says there are two things that ensure a design sticks around: versatility and functionality.
“Denim has both these qualities in abundance.” says Amy. “Denim can be rock’n’roll, sophisticated, subversive, trashy, purist, punk… the list goes on!”
She points to customisation as one of the tricks that keeps denim alive, something Levi’s has owned recently with the launch of our very own Tailor Shop at Splendour in the Grass in July.
“Customisation, laundries, fits and detailing can transform the humble jean into anything you want, making it fashion’s chameleon item,” says Amy.
But for a style to endure the piece needs to last – and this is where denim fits in so snugly on the longevity scale.
“Denim is durable and built to last, making it not just a fashion item but also an everyday piece or a workwear pant,” explains Amy. “This means that everyone from your average person on the street to Kate Moss wants to wear denim.”
There are some enticing trends emerging in the denim world at the moment, Amy says, which draw on Japanese and Eastern artisan influences. Hot new denim pieces are featuring designs like Shibori (Japanese tie dye) finishes, tactile 3D textured weaves and eastern kimono styling.
“Brands such as Levi’s and MiH have been strongly backing this trend,” adds Amy.
The movement towards more thoughtful, handcrafted pieces is an exciting new turn away from previous denim trends, which saw much louder, short-lived fads like “extreme washes” or digital prints.
Coinciding with this artisan movement is a focus on the environment and innovation, which is seeing designers look to more sustainable practices.
Amy points to examples like washes that require less water or no water at all, codes that allow customers to trace the production of a pair of jeans from cotton to shop, and new recycling methods that utilise old denim and even plastic bottles in fabric production.
New stretch capabilities, which Levi’s have utilised in our cyclist-friendly Commuter Series, are also looking to possibilities of denim acting as a kind of shape wear – smoothing skin, fighting cellulite and making you look generally awesome.
“These areas are developing and that’s a very good thing,” says Amy. “Denim is getting smarter and smarter, with technology driving innovation.”