Even this time last year, who would have thought that jeans would soon again be the coolest pants around? Circa 2017, during the heyday of YEEZY, when people inexplicably paid through the nose for Calabasas-adorned track pants, denim’s resurgence looked a million miles away; memories of the raw and selvage movement of the early-noughties fading just like the ink on your A.P.C. Petit Standards once did. But now, jeans are back – and the best part is that anything goes.
Certain jean types are synonymous with a particular time. In the early-aughts, people wore bootcuts because they thought the grungy look paired well with their Ed Hardy T-shirts and Von Dutch trucker caps. When The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, and The Libertines ushered in a new era of garage and indie rock around 2005, Hedi Slimane led the way in proselytizing people to skinny, even drainpipe, fits. After that scene became played out, the aforementioned raw denim subculture came along and never truly went away, birthing nerdy online communities that still exist to this day. For some purists, a person’s denim IQ can only be measured by how much Kapital, Needles, visvim, and other Japanese brands they have in their closet.
As luxury and streetwear merged, jeans found themselves as the odd staple out. Sure, it’s denim, probably the most popular fabric on the planet, so it’s always going to be “in” in some respects. But take a look over street style galleries from the past few years and you’ll see a ton of luxury track pants, suiting, and crazy trousers, but not too much denim.
If jeans never truly went away, at least now they’ve come into sharp focus. As maximalism becomes played out, some people just want a nice pair of straight leg jeans that look smart with their heels and loafers. Others, however, dispute that ugly and irony-indebted trends are going anywhere, which is why you have the likes of Hedi Slimane — in one of recent fashion’s more puzzling volte-faces — sending bootcuts down the runway for Celine. Even weirder is the once mooted return of early ’90s monstrosities like those by JNCO, which perhaps explains why off-the-wall denim designers Ksenia Schnaider, Bstroy, and GmBH are making avant-garde jeans that people are actually into (in the coming months, look out for a funky Levi’s project from jack-of-all-trades creative Tremaine Emory, too). Unlike the era’s mentioned before, where one pervading style reigned supreme, there’s never been more selection to choose from. Among the cool kids, both conservative and outré styles are coexisting harmoniously.
The ultimate proof that jeans are “back,” however? The fact Luka Sabbat, once an unbeliever, has done a 180 and has regularly been seen wearing denim. If he can be convinced, then so can anyone.