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While denim is undoubtedly a seasonless staple, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of slipping on your favorite pair of jeans during the first days of fall — and, of course, styling them back to your go-to turtleneck and beloved boots that have been in hibernation all summer. After foregoing hard pants in favor of work-from-home sweats for much too long, this year’s return of “jeans season” is even more anticipated than usual, especially with a set of fresh fall denim trends in the mix.
If you’ve been on a denim hiatus as of late, you may have noticed that there are quite a few emerging styles on the scene — most notably low-rise jeans and ultra-baggy options. There’s also a great debate sparked by TikTokers on whether skinny jeans are really dead (the answer: they’ll always be a staple even as the most coveted styles change from year-to-year). The bottom line: the best denim styles are the ones you feel most comfortable wearing, but if you’re looking to invest in a new pair, reviewing the trends isn’t a bad idea, either.
To help you get up to speed for the season ahead, seven denim industry powerhouses have vetted the options for you and are spilling their secrets on the need-to-know trends for the season. Spoiler alert: retro renditions are in across the board. From early Y2K nods at cool-girl brand Rolla’s to a ‘70s collegiate prep influence at RE/DONE, looking back is the key to moving forward for 2021.
Ahead, discover the leading styles from the sources themselves, and shop their recommendations from bell bottoms to jewel-toned jeans to kick off the new season right.
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To make the transition from sweats back to denim a bit more seamless, Tu es mon Tresor is delving into denim with a relaxed fit. Aimi Sahara, founder of the rising Japanese denim brand, shares that her fall collection is centered around styles that are “softer, more fluid, and feature a wider cut.” The silhouette is one that has risen in popularity over the last few years and doesn’t seem to be losing any steam.
When it comes to styling relaxed denim, Sahara takes a high-low approach. “We are gravitating towards a more elegant styling with a jacket and heels,” she tells TZR. Punctuate the look with a pop-of-color lip and handbag and you’re set for wherever the day takes you. Who says easygoing denim can’t be chic?
Sarah Gilsenan, co-founder and women’s head of design at Rolla’s, has her eyes on the late ‘90s and early aughts for nostalgic trends like a relaxed wide leg and a perfectly worn-in wash for this fall.
Color is key for the brand this season, with classic blues, but also soft earth tones. “Pouring over pictures of vast skies, pine forests, rock pools, and sandy landscapes inspired the colors for this collection of sky blues, sunset pinks, forest greens, and salt tones. Showcasing our signature styles in this seasonal palette felt so fresh,” she says. Style a colorful pair of jeans with other of-the-era pieces like a baguette bag, fitted button-down, and chunky sneakers.
Arts & Crafts
This season is all about embracing your artistic side according to Tim Kaeding, creative director & co-founder of MOTHER. “We were inspired by superstitions and a streak of rebellion. There is a nod to breaking the rules.” This playfulness shows up through “hand-drawn doodle graphics, and wash names like ‘spilled salt’.” Runway trendsetters like Collina Strada, Bode, and Blumarine also leaned into this artsy doodling, making a case for its rising status.
Look for these details in a trend-forward wide-leg silhouette with long inseams, generally in a white or off-white wash to let the designs shine. Style them back to a solid sweater and chunky boots to lean into the look but let your denim do the talking.
If the resurgence of the prep aesthetic of the ‘90s isn’t quite your style, look back decades further to the ‘70s for a collegiate denim aesthetic. Sean Barron, CEO & co-founder of RE/DONE, honed in on the era for the brand. “Our fall collection is heavily inspired by the ‘70s, Northeastern liberal arts college towns, and the people that reside in them,” he says. “From a diligent student who dons preppy argyle sweaters and jeans to the eccentric art student who lives exclusively in denim overalls.”
Look for high-rise, loose fits with a slight flare or wide-leg to achieve the look. Bonus points if your jeans of choice are in a classic fall hue like racing green or brick red. Lean into the nostalgic look by styling a high-rise option with a sweater vest and a pair of chunky loafers.
The denim industry has moved toward greener practices, but finding fashion-forward labels that also prioritize sustainability and reducing waste is increasingly important to consumers. Sarah Ahmed, chief creative officer of DL1961, notes that the brand uses organic cotton and post-consumer waste, in addition to innovative production practices, a combination that results in high-quality denim that is also less wasteful. She calls out the Emilie Straight as a favorite, “an ultra-high-rise vintage style that rivals your favorite pair of lived-in jeans, all while using the latest in Ozone + laser technology and only eight gallons of water to produce,” she explains. If you’re looking to invest in new staple denim, keep an eye out for information on sustainable practices on the brand’s website.
While skinny jeans remain a staple in many wardrobes, creative director and founder of MARCELL VON BERLIN, Marcell Pustul sees consumers leaning towards looser silhouettes. “This fall, bootcut and baggy jeans are more en vogue, sitting a little wider and more casual.” After a year lounging in looser-fitting bottoms, it’s no surprise that casual, relaxed options like baggy jeans are a popular choice.
But, there’s an even easier take that Pustul considers the must-try for fall: the jumpsuit. “The style is a fun, different way to integrate classic denim and comes in options outside of just your standard blue jean look,” he says. This provides an always welcome throw-and-go option that still achieves the coveted casually cool look that’s ideal for fall.
For Paige Adams-Geller, co-founder and creative director of PAIGE, fall was about embracing a retro, romantic silhouette. She shares, “The movie Love Story starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal kept playing through my mind while designing this collection.”
This retro flick led to ‘70s-inspired silhouettes like the ever-iconic fitted flare. She explains her style vision for this fall as, “slim flares paired with silk tops, to wide-leg ankle-length jeans worn with tall boots and sweaters.” Consider this throwback iteration a dressed-up style for every day.