Denim’s Old-School Cool
The global economy may still be singing the blues, but heritage denim brands??”especially in Europe??”are humming an altogether more optimistic tune.
With cash-strapped consumers lacking the inclination and the disposable income to experiment with their wardrobes, old-school and hard-wearing denim is seeing a resurgence in popularity.
Retailers are noticing increasing demand for classic denim brands, from stalwarts such as Lee, Lee Cooper, Levi??™s and Wrangler; workwear labels like Carhartt, Dickies and OshKosh B??™Gosh, and even the pioneers of high-fashion jeans such as Calvin Klein and Polo Ralph Lauren.
???There is a growing movement toward iconic brands and styles. Customers are looking for time-tested authenticity,??? says Ed Burstell, buying director at Liberty.
???We are seeing a return to the classic denim brands. Customers want trustworthy labels and unquestionable value,??? agrees Tancr??de de Lalun, general merchandise manager of women??™s apparel for Printemps.
According to de Lalun, Levi??™s refitted 501 is a bestseller at the store. ???It is a modern and eternal basic that evolves all the time,??? he says.
Thomas George, owner of the E Street Denim stores in Highland Park, Ill., and Lake Geneva, Wis., says the quest for Americana is especially strong outside the U.S. ???Europe is a different market. Europeans and Asians hold the iconic status of American-made products, be it jeans or cars, in great esteem??¦there is somewhat of an irreverence to it here,??? he observes.
The European divisions of Wrangler, Lee and Levi??™s each boast a ???spectacular??? product range, according to George, while their U.S. counterparts have gone more mass market.
Meanwhile, George says while the iconic styles??”often made with raw fabrics and no spandex??”were a harder sell for the body-conscious American consumer, they have set off trends across all denim categories and are helping customers accept looser shapes.
Liberty??™s Burstell concurs, adding denim styles today are less ???extreme,??? with more relaxed looks such as the boot cut, skinny boot and straight leg.
???[The demand for authentic denim] translates to a bigger interest in dry and raw denim??”not artificially distressed??”as well as selvage with its inherent superior quality,??? he says.
???Even recent denim labels are borrowing elements from the heritage brands, such as raw denim and selvage seams, to make it look like it stepped out of the archive,??? says Printemps??™ de Lalun.
Wrangler International president Dieter Jacobfeuerborn notes consumers are ready for simpler styling, quality construction and ???garments with soul.???
???There??™s that ???It??™s a crazy world??™ feeling today, which makes people crave familiarity and reliability in their brands,??? Jacobfeuerborn offers.
Lee International??™s Johan De Niel agrees, adding that, when it comes to denim, consumers are comforted by tried-and-tested labels.
???During difficult economic conditions, consumers tend to go back to classic brands and products because these offer you a stamp of quality and value, plus you can wear these at many different occasions and the life cycle of the product is much longer,??? he says.
Heritage-inspired limited editions of Levi??™s classics, including the 501 cut, which launched in 1890, along with denim shirts and denim jackets, all have been phenomenally successful over the last couple of seasons, according to Levi??™s.
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Tags: Lee, Levi's, Wrangler