In the future, this is how jeans will look

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I’m normally quite a confident dresser – helpful in my line of work – but I came unstuck when trying to work out how to style my jeans one morning during the recent Australian Fashion Week.

Having grown accustomed to wearing sneakers 99 per cent of the time (thanks COVID-19 and a baby, successively), tucking my jeans into my knee-high boots suddenly felt wrong, as did wearing jeans with a strappy heel in daylight hours.

Double denim at Wynn Hamlyn (left) and Aje; coloured denim at Blanca Studio.Credit: Getty

It led me to ask Dr Carolyn Mair, fashion business consultant and author of the Psychology of Fashion, about why we seem to attach so much, ahem, weight to our jeans. She says the versatility of jeans (casual to dressy, for example) means we wear them often, and are likely to receive compliments on them from others more frequently than other pieces in our wardrobe. This, in turn, reinforces our desire to wear them (and seek out a pair that makes us feel good).

So, what were the new “rules” for wearing jeans, and were my chosen style even acceptable? And, what’s all this business about Y2K and bikini line-grazing waistbands – must we abide?

The ‘jeans of the future’

Since listening to American journalist Avery Trufelman’s excellent fashion podcast Articles of Interest, I haven’t been able to get the phrase “jeans of the future” out of my head. Trufelman uses it to narrate the preview she got, in 2016, of how denim styles may look in 2018. So, with that in mind, where are jeans heading in 2023, and beyond?

Head-to-toe denim at Australian Fashion Week (from left) Harmony Butcher in Aje, Sarah Ellen in Henne, Cameron Robbie at Christian Kimber.Credit: Getty

Nicole Adolphe, stylist for The Iconic, says the Australian Fashion Week runways had it all in terms of denim: oversize jackets and shirts, coloured styles, knee-length shorts, and skirts of every length. Still, she says, high-waisted, relaxed straight-leg jeans in mid-blue will continue to show up in coming seasons (phew!). But for a real “now” statement, Adolphe recommends a dose of double denim in the form of a denim shirt and matching miniskirt, aka the “new” Canadian tuxedo.

So, what about ‘bumsters’?

Y2K is certainly having a comeback on the runway and among Gen-Z consumers, and if you favour a low rise, a more relaxed fit will give it a more contemporary feel. Look to Australian brands such as Aje (in partnership with ethical brand Outland Denim) and Henne for how to do a hip-baring jean or denim skirt without launching into a time warp. But the trend isn’t for everyone, says Adolphe.

“You don’t need to go for a low-waist jean if you’re not comfortable just because it’s ‘in fashion’!” she says. “Slouchy or wide-leg jeans are both flattering and in style, or the straight leg, ‘mom’ and flare jeans are timeless and stylish.”

Erica Bartle of Outland Denim says the double-denim look, especially when topped with an oversized shirt, epitomises the “barefoot luxury” ideal shown in the resort collections. “The fabrication is important, though – [choose something] not too heavy, breathable and quality,” she says.

A word on ‘skinnies’

According to The Iconic’s sales data, straight-leg jeans are still the most popular, while high-waisted jeans are in sixth position; low-rise styles are at number 10. “Surprisingly, our data revealed that skinny jeans continue to be a popular style [at number three], proving that although the skinny jean might be deemed ‘out of fashion’ by Gen-Z, it’s a style people know and love.”

Anything goes … a model in cropped jeans in the Haulier runway at Australian Fashion Week.Credit: Getty

If you can’t let go of your skinnies, but still want to feel like you’re ‘on trend’ for winter, Adolphe suggests pairing them with a trench coat or an oversized biker jacket. For shoes, try a white sneaker, black pointed heel or black ankle boot. Keep the knee-high boots for skirts and dresses.

Colour coded

Spring-summer is also going to see a strong return of coloured denim, whether in neutral shades of mocha and khaki from Acler and Blanca Studio, respectively, to Camilla and Marc’s matching shirt and jeans in flax or pistachio, for an alternative to blue, black or white.

Acler co-founder Kathryn Forth says a coloured jean or denim skirt can have just as much longevity in a wardrobe as a classic blue. “The designs [in our range] play with unconventional colours such as magenta pink for a bold statement and mocha brown for a more contemporary neutral.”

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