Pandemic May Have Changed Thinking on Blue Jeans

'New denim cycle' may be here: goodbye skinny jeans, hello mom jeans
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2021 2:20 PM CDT
Pandemic May Have Changed Thinking on Blue Jeans
File photo of Levi's jeans hang on a wall at Levi's innovation lab in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Of all the changes wrought by the pandemic, a shift in blue jeans fashion may not seem of great importance. But it certain circles, it's leading to serious-sounding pronouncements like this one, from Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh to the New York Times: "It's very possible that we’re into a new denim cycle." By Bergh's reckoning, the denim cycle on its way out after a decade or so is one that has been dominated by skinny jeans. But based on sales during the pandemic, mom jeans—that is, high-waisted, loose-fitting jeans—are taking over, for both men and women. Levi's chief financial officer, Harmit Singh, tells Yahoo Finance that 40% of women's business in the first quarter centered on "looser fit" jeans. In particular, a new "balloon" style sold particularly well.

Looser-fit styles for men are up "dramatically" as well, he adds. A story on the trend at CNBC notes that the shift is being driven by younger consumers, especially those in Gen Z. "Mom jeans" ranked as the No. 3 fashion trend in an industry teen survey, behind baggy or saggy pants, and leggings. "The style is all over teens’ favorite websites, including Shein, Princess Polly, Urban Outfitters and Revolve," writes Lauren Thomas. The real test will be if the trend holds through the next two seasons, says Levi's Bergh. Only then will the "new denim cycle" be confirmed. "I don't think skinny jeans are ever going to go away completely," he says. But "I think the pandemic definitely played a contributing role to consumers looking for a more comfortable, more relaxing denim." (More jeans stories.)

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