Originally created 08/31/99

Denim cool



The fashion pendulum is always swinging, and now is the time to buy denim.

According to Target Stores' 22-person trend merchandising team, dark denim will be popular this fall. The look is inspired by the "modern cool" of young Hollywood stars, including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Van Der Beek.

Dark denim -- which has not been faded, stone-washed, acid-washed, ripped, frayed, distressed or otherwise assaulted -- has been a potent trend for more than a year among the New York fashion crowd.

The crisp, dark denim -- which has been called raw denim, bull denim and hard denim -- energized the jeans industry.

"For fall-holiday, dark denim will be taking up more and more space on the retail floor," says John Shamberger, vice president of the Jeanswear Coalition for VF.

But not all jeans will be stiff enough to saw wood.

Whether it's the stiff and unwashed version of dark denim called "rinse" or the same dark shade washed to create a softer feel, consumers can choose from a new variety of denim washes.

"Indigo cotton denim will always be there, but the consumer is looking for something new," says Mark Shick, president of Edwin Jeans USA. "They're going to find it in all the innovative things happening in fabrication that are really freshening up the denim market."

Denim trends

Other trends in denim, as identified by the Fashion Association, a nonprofit trade association of fashion retailers, manufacturers and textile firms:

VINTAGE-LOOKING DENIM:

Inspired by the worn-out jeans shown on the runways of designers like Tom Ford, jeans manufacturers are ripping, tearing and beating up denim. Bella Dahl, in Manhattan Beach, Calif., sews vintage fabrics on jeans to give them added style and sophistication. Recycled Levi's are decorated with sari and kimono textiles and suede and velvet from around the world.

SELVAGE:

The Gap recently offered authentic-looking jeans with selvage, a red seam that shows the jeans were woven on old, narrow shuttle looms. The selvage can be seen when the cuffs are turned up.

RING SPUN DENIM:

Ring Spun denim is woven so the cotton fibers are twisted in one uniform direction, giving the yarn added strength. Ring Spun's strength and smooth surface quality are making it the preferred fabric for many jeanswear manufacturers and consumers looking for newness in denim.

LIGHTER DENIM:

Denim fabrications are lightening up, giving consumers more breathable choices for the warmer seasons. Lightwear jeanswear, made from 8- and 12-ounce denim, is a cool, comfortable variation to traditional, heavyweight jeans. According to Cathy Barton, executive vice president of product marketing and development for Burlington Global Denim, the company is working on a new 8-ounce denim blend that moves moisture away from the body. "This kind of new fabric blend and the technologies used to create it are redefining what denim is," Ms. Barton said.