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Drapers Denim Report: What's driving the denim market?

Denim remains a wardrobe staple for men and women alike. However, as men increasingly dress up in trousers, or down into tracksuit bottoms, and with the market being driven for both genders by volume, brands are having to get creative to stand out.

WGSN’s In-Stock service analyses the proportion denim makes up of fashion retailers’ ranges and breaks down the new styles each is carrying. In February 2017 jeans represented 4% of new women’s stock (up from 3.5% in February 2016) and 5.5% of men’s (down from 5.7% in February 2016). So this staple still brings in a significant proportion of sales. 

Women's styles

Women’s styles

However, the market is becoming more crowded and consumer spending remains muted, so denim brands are under increased pressure to stand out from the crowd.

Poppy Lomax, denim buyer at Selfridges, says that the department store’s customers are becoming more adventurous with their denim and “willing to take more risks” and wear styles “not just as casualwear”.

New niche brands are entering the market with freshness and innovation that our customers are really supporting, like LA-based brand Grlfrnd,” she says.

“Our denim customers are buying into anything with a hem detail or cropped flare silhouette. Citizens of Humanity, J Brand, Paige, AG and Rag & Bone are all offering released-hem styles.”

Men's styles

Men’s styles

Kashif Qazi, owner of Romford-based denim-focused independent retailer Utter Nutter, says the market is driven by volume brands priced below £60, such as River Island and Topman, and brands over the £100 mark, such as Diesel or Replay, which are around £125.

By contrast, he says, mid-market brands priced from £60 to £100 - with the exception of Levi’s Line 8 range and the higher-tier Red Tab, which he says are still selling at volume - are now quite rare: “Brands are really upping their game and offering all sorts of new washes and cuts to stand out in what is an increasingly competitive market.”

 

Top five retailers with highest volumes of women’s new-in jeans
  Retailers   Brands  
1 Zalando 346 New Look* 103
2 Asos 270 Topshop* 94
3 House of Fraser 134 Dorothy Perkins 53
4 Debenhams 102 River Island 47
5 Topshop 92 Missguided 38

 

Top five retailers with highest volumes of men’s new-in jeans
  Retailers Brands
1 Asos 311 Asos* 59
2 Zalando 217 Levi’s 57
3 Harrods 66 Diesel 74
4 House of Fraser 63 River Island 45
5 Debenhams 57 Gap 24
Women’s jeans details
  Feb 17 Feb 16   Feb 17 Feb 16  
  Volume Volume YOY volume change (%) Detail mix (%) Detail mix (%) Detail mix change YoY (pp)
Hem 154 56 175.0% 8.7% 3.7% 4.9
Ripped 170 100 70.0% 9.6% 6.7% 2.9
Raw hem 39 11 254.5% 2.2% 0.7% 1.5
Bleached 75 43 74.4% 4.2% 2.9% 1.4
Frayed 33 20 65.0% 1.9% 1.3% 0.5
Stonewash 14 11 27.3% 0.8% 0.7% 0.1
Distressed 79 77 2.6% 4.4% 5.1% -0.7
Mid-wash 144 197 -26.9% 8.1% 13.1% -5.0
  1,776 1,502        

 

Men’s jeans details
  Feb-17 Feb-16   Feb-17 Feb-16  
  Volume  Volume  YOY volume change (%)  Detail mix (%) Detail mix (%) Detail mix change YOY (pp)
Stonewash 80 11 627.3% 7.2% 1.0% 6.2
Ripped  80 44 81.8% 7.2% 4.0% 3.2
Hem  54 24 125.0% 4.9% 2.2% 2.7
Bleached  53 29 82.8% 4.8% 2.6% 2.2
Distressed 78 58 34.5% 7.0% 5.2% 1.8
Raw hem 4 2 100.0% 0.4% 0.2% 0.2
Frayed 2 3 -33.3% 0.2% 0.3% -0.1
Mid-wash 186 230 -19.1% 16.7% 20.7% -4.0
  1112 1109        

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