Data Driving The Denim Boom
The fabric has exploded as a central theme in 2023 and, according to Globe Newswire, the global denim market will reach a value of $76.1bn by 2026. How are retailers responding to demand and where is it heading in 2024?
- The pandemic accelerated the casualization of fashion, leading to the growth of loungewear, knitwear and, most recently, denim. Further fueled by Gen Z’s penchant for all things Y2K, denim sell outs swelled across markets and regions for SS23, most significantly UK womenswear, which saw sales more than double YoY.
- Jeans are taking a backseat in the mass market in favor of denim tops, contributing to the trending double-denim movement. Tops eclipsed outerwear as the second largest new-in category, swelling from 5.8% of the mix in 2022 to 8.1%. Corsets spiked 41% in the UK, while waistcoats were another womenswear favorite spring trend.
- Luxury brands want in on the denim craze, including the fabric as a centerpiece in SS23 collections. The year kicked off with 72% more jeans arrivals in January across select luxury retailers analyzed, and +17% compared to SS22.
- Denim growth will sustain into 2024/25; however, given its rapid acceleration over the past year, this will likely be at a slower rate than experienced in 2023.
- Moving forward, brands should consider investing in the denim resale market. Being a naturally durable fabric, denim boasts longevity and second-hand appeal. Otherwise, key trends for 2024/25 include jorts, acid washes and bootcut jeans.
Inflating Consumer Demand
The Casualization of Fashion
The pandemic accelerated the casualization of fashion, leading to the growth of loungewear, knitwear and, most recently, denim. Reports suggest the denim market will reach $76.1bn by 2026. As highlighted in our Casual vs. Occasionwear In 2023 report, the gap between casual and occasion wear has shrunk, with this season’s top performers straddling both categories. Denim is a prime example of this lucrative middle ground, famously used for “jeans and a nice top” edits to demonstrate how to take the staple from day to night.
Furthermore, Gen Z’s penchant for all things Y2K – a defining fabric of the era – has served to propel denim even further. Diesel’s comeback is a testament to this idea, with the likes of Julia Fox and Dua Lipa cementing its status as a re-found cult brand.
Spring 2023 Sales Overview
Denim sell outs have swelled across genders and regions for SS23, most significantly within the UK womenswear market, which has seen sales more than double YoY. Drilling down into subcategories, bottoms have shifted from making up 82% of total sell outs in SS22, down to 59%, with tops making extensive gains, jumping from 5% to 20% YoY. Dresses and all-in-ones sale activity has also ballooned, while outerwear has remained stable.
Denim Sell Outs YoY
Mass Market Top Movers
This season’s best-selling trends embody the diversification of this category. Maxi skirts, dresses and tops experienced significant increases in newness and sell outs. At the same time, loose-fit jeans continued to move well but failed to keep up with the aforementioned products’ rapid growth rates. Striped denim surfaced as a fresh trend, particularly notable in jeans, while jorts gained momentum in high summer amongst Gen Z shoppers – a key buy for SS24 ranges.
+564% sell outs YoY
+827% sell outs YoY
+200% sell outs YoY
+103% sell outs YoY
+3,217% sell outs YoY
Corset tops & waistcoats
+675% sell outs YoY
The Diversification of Silhouettes
With the demand for denim growing, retailers have expanded assortments outside the traditional pair of jeans into more directional silhouettes. Bottoms shrunk by 2.3pp of the overall category mix, paving the way for growth in tops and outerwear. In SS23 alone, EDITED has covered several alternative options seeing investment from retailers and how they’re featured. Favorites this season include cargo pants, jumpsuits and waistcoats in SS23 promotions, while dresses and skirts struck a chord with shoppers and produced quick sell outs in March and April. Although denim footwear is still in its infancy stage, mass market leaders, including Mango and Zara, have started to invest in heels and sandals.
Womenswear Brands Buy into Denim Skirts and Tops
In the UK for Spring 2023, the bottoms category dropped 1.5pp in the total women’s denim product mix. The decline of jeans from 75% of the bottoms total in SS22 to 70% in SS23 was driven by more investment in skirts and tops – a shift that resulted in the long skirt revival. Reinforced on Pinterest, the trend has been heavily backed this season by Free People, NA-KD and Reformation.
The volume of new-in denim tops has also grown YoY, concentrated in bustiers and corsets, vests and waistcoats. Drilling into top words across styles, terms such as “90s,” “patchwork” and “pearl” hint at design details that feed into grunge and vintage aesthetics. More investment from fast fashion retailers, including Stradivarius and Bershka, in the £20-£40 price bracket led to a decline in the average price for the trend, supplied predominantly by Reformation last spring.
Maxi Skirts UK
- Arrivals: +800% YoY
- Avg price: £111.89 (+16% YoY)
- Arrivals: +41% YoY
- Avg price: £45.12 (-43% YoY)
Menswear Favors Denim Shirts and More Legroom in Jeans
Menswear denim arrivals increased by 2% YoY in both the UK and US. Reinforcing the double denim trend, the UK’s increase in denim stemmed from the tops category, up 74% YoY from investment in long and short-sleeved overshirts. Western-inspired button-downs were frequently dropped as well in slim fits and light washes. Colored denim also played a more prominent role in arrivals, driven by white and grey shades. Standouts include a £25.99 pearl grey denim shirt from Zara, which had a majority sell out one week after arriving, and Bershka’s £35.99 long-sleeve denim overshirt.
Jeans continued to drive denim’s presence in the US. While slim fits are still the bread and butter in retailers’ ranges, baggier fits are beginning to take hold. Styles described as “tapered” increased 34% from Spring 2022. “Relaxed” and “loose” also jumped by 46% and 58% YoY, respectively. The deviation comes at the cost of skinny jeans, with new arrivals using the term declining by 45%.
Denim Shirts UK
- Arrivals: +76% YoY
- Avg price: £82.81 (+17% YoY)
Loose-Fit Jeans US
- Arrivals: +58% YoY
- Avg price: $82.57 (+22% YoY)
Designer Jeans Fuel Growth
Options of Luxury Jeans in Spring 2023 Increases 17% YoY
Jeans were a central component in SS23 runway collections, predicting the future of what was to come for the season. From Spring 2022 to Spring 2023, arrivals across major luxury brands swelled by 9% and 28% in the UK and US, respectively. Brands filled assortments with newness in the first half of the season, letting stock sell down in April before fresh arrivals in May. January 2023 jeans arrivals eclipsed the prior year by 72% to sufficiently supply the growing demand.
Luxury Jeans Prices Spring 2023
Higher prices accompanied the climb in arrivals from luxury brands. The entry, average and exit prices of jeans in stock in the US and UK were all higher in SS23 compared to SS22. In the UK, 10.6% of styles in stock across the season received a markup in price, while 8% of styles in the US saw a price increase. Saint Laurent and Gucci increased pricing on the highest proportion of stock, including a £60 markup on a pair of denim flares at Gucci and a $10 upcharge on 70s-style jeans from Saint Laurent.
First price: £700
Current price: £760
First price: $850
Current price: $860
SS23 Luxury Top Movers
The luxury customer proved much bolder compared to the mass market as top-selling styles ranged from destroyed cargos at Dolce & Gabbana to slashed jeans at Versace. While mass market leaders take a simplistic approach to keeping costs down, the opposite is true in luxury where designers leverage premium finishes and outlandish embellishments to stand out. Dolce & Gabbana’s ripped high-waisted cargos priced at a whopping $2,745 had a first majority sell out in just 17 days. Equally, Gucci’s jacquard denim pants at $1,600 sold out completely 21 days after landing. Premium denim was the shouting antidote to 2023’s Quiet Luxury movement this season.
2024 Direction and What’s Next?
Denim growth will sustain into 2024/25, however, given its rapid acceleration over the past year, this will likely be at a slower rate than experienced in 2023. Silhouettes will continue to diversify – with increasing options across tops, dresses, all-in-ones and outerwear categories as retailers look to build out their ranges based on the success of recent seasons.
Moving forward, brands should consider investing in the denim resale market. Being a naturally durable fabric, denim boasts longevity and second-hand appeal. Furthermore, retailers should offer Repair & Product Care options to help keep products in circulation longer.
Pointers from the Runway
The Pre-Spring 2024 women’s collections and Spring 2024 men’s shows underlined denim as a leading trend for the coming seasons. Oversized shapes persevered as the primary fit, while low-rise and bootcut gained momentum. Leaning into the 00s revival, distressing will be a vital update for 2024 ranges, from shredded detailing to acid-washed and aged fabrics.
Embellished and coated styles also emerged as a fresh trend, with shiny, sequinned jeans noted at Diesel and Philosophy di San Lorenzo Serafini.
Elsewhere, the pendulum looks set to swing even further towards comfort, with an elasticized cuff bomber jacket seen at Blumarine and jogger-inspired pants at Dsquared2 and Diesel.