Real Denim Trends You Need to Know Right Now

The Denim Report

Girlfriend jeans, mom jeans, cropped flares, the Vetements effect and more – everything you need to know denim trends right now.

For all women who are well and truly over the ankle-cling, zipper gape, and camel toe prospects of the incorrigible skinny jean, we are happy to report that, finally, real denim has returned. They are cuts, shapes and trends we can thank our mums, the 70’s, Twiggy and our favourite designers for. The 21st century wide leg has been resurrected, slouchy is the new black, and flares, frays and fringe pack a punch in the modern sartorial arsenal. While the case for the skinny jean remains strong (and by the way, we still love them!) the real denim movement is seeing women reject the cookie-cutter fast fashion skinny jean domination, in favour of  denim as meaningful investments. It’s about denim that that fits well and flatters where it should, and lends itself to endless possibilities for expressing one’s unique personal style. This surely is music to the ears of every minimalist, whose retail modus operandi is to buy wisely and wear more. Here are our favourite denim trends right now.

1 Mom jean
If they’re high-waisted, light washed, straight or tapered leg, heavy weight, non-stretch and mums got around town in them in the early 2000’s, they’re mom jeans.  But mums had better be prepared to have their looks stolen as the mom jean takes its place alongside other resurrected styles from days gone-by. What used to be classed as daggy is the new effortless model-off-duty staple. Give you mom jeans a contemporary edge by adding some leather (preferably in the cropped jacket form), some height in heels and tucking in the top to make the most of the ultra-high waist.

Photo: Blogger’s Boyfriend

2 Girlfriend jean

The feminine sister of the boyfriend jean, the girlfriend jean is a more classic fit, with a tight and high cut on the hips and a tapered straight slim leg. This denim trend retains the idea of an androgynous tomboy air, but the girlfriend jean is made to flatter the female figure. You won’t find any fancy finishes here, but a classic cut made to be worn all day every day.  See the latest offerings from Citizens of Humanity for inspiration.

Jiawa Liu wearing: Shirt – Anna Quan; Jeans – J Brand (similar); Sandals – Senso

3 Cropped flare

Before Jane Birkin inspired that bag, she defined the cropped flare jean. Figure hugging where they need to be and flared in all the right places (ie just about the ankle or above), a rough fray is just about all the distressing these jeans need. While flats make the most of the 7/8 length, if boots are in the equation, the hem should brush the top, or otherwise embrace bare ankles. Triumphant in its ‘awkward length’ classification, this denim trend makes the most of our favourite modern fashion ethos; that rules are made to be broken. Who said we can’t bear a little flesh between a boot and a denim hem? See Stella McCartney and M.i.h Jeans for the best.

Jiawa Liu wearing: Shirt – Equipment & Jeans – M.i.h (both from Adam Heath Boutique); Bag – Chloe (‘Faye’); Shoes – Isabel Marant

Photo: Helen-Jayne Driscoll (Boho Tailor)

4 Decorated denim
Did someone say bejewelled? Unlike a lot of denim trends, decorated denim hasn’t evolved from an era gone-by, instead it has evolved right here in the 21st century. Think of it like jewellery for your jeans, decorated denim is not for the faint hearted. While our fashion collaegues of the 90’s and early 2000’s cringed at the thought of decorated denim, the current industry is, ironically, making it every part the personal and controversial expression it deserves to be. Not for the faint hearted but for those up for a fashion challenge, the tackier and more tongue in cheek the embellishment, the better effect of decorated denim.  Go hard or go home! See Gucci and Alice + Olivia for decadent floral embroidery or head to ASOS for kitch iron patches to DIY your own.


Photo: Simple Et Chic

5 Fringed and frayed jeans

Typically taking the form of a cropped length but with a few extra centimetres of texture at the bottom, fringed jeans don’t quite make the ankle and should be well off the floor – 3×1 pioneered this denim trend. But if the fringe is anything less than five centimetres, it’s a fray which is easily solved with a bit of at-home distressing. The fringed jean can add a punchy detail to an otherwise minimal outfit. Style with classic pumps or sneakers and something laid-back on the top for a “I care, but not that much” aesthetic.


Jiawa Liu wearing: Fringe jeans – 3×1; Boots – Tibi; Shirt – Anna Quan; Bag – Chloe (‘Faye’)

6 Flared
We can thank a 1970’s Cher for flared jeans and late 60’s Twiggy for thrusting them into the contemporary spotlight. A misconception that flared jeans were the favourite for 1960’s hippies, flares have evolved to modern favourites. Why? Because the classic flare instantly adds height, flatters hourglass shapes and creates a focus point away from just about any other part of the outfit.

Jiawa Liu wearing: T-shirt – Isabel Marant (similar); Flared Jeans – J Brand (from Edwards Imports); Bag – Givenchy (‘Antigona’)

7 The Vetements Effect
The accidental brain-child of Damna Gvasalia, the Vetements Effect an avant-garde additions to the denim trend. Each pair are the combination of at least two pairs of vintage jeans, cut along the seam and re-structured to create a re-invented effect. The most note-worthy feature is the stepped hem and the price tag to match the additional creative labour. Keeping on cue with the re-worked vintage style, the Vetements Effect leads the way in born-again thrift shop pieces the industry rejected as fast as they fell in love with – only with a nod to modern craftsmanship. Combine a tapered leg version with a black midi-heel to draw attention to the fact you’re onto something new before it became “big”.  Need a visual? Tommy Ton captured them on the streets outside New York Fashion Week.

Photo: Tim Lo (from 5 Lessons From Paris Fashion Week)

8 Ultra wide leg
Ultra wide legs jeans are unashamedly the same excessive width from the hip to the ankle. The wide leg jean is not only true to its name but the result of the combination between laidback 70’s comfort and the ultimate street style pant. Tell-tale features are subtle pleats on the front and back (because women do have waists after all), a retro high waist and a fly as long as the pants are wide. Leading on from the ultra wide leg, its sister the raver jean was made to dance and made to be tucked in. But besides comfort and sophistication, ultra wide leg jeans scream out for a block heel and t-shirt – how convenient. Chloe know how to keep denim ultra wide and on-trend.


Jiawa Liu wearing: Shirt – Anna Quan; Jeans – M.i.h; Heels – Isabel Marant; Bag – Givenchy (‘Antigona’)

Photo: Sandra Semberg

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