Leading buyers and designers reveal their top-performing denim styles from the season so far and give their thoughts on what is coming for spring 20.
Urban Outfitters menswear
Jo Rose, head of menswear buying, Urban Outfitters
The [relaxed, slim-cut] Dad jean (£55) is synonymous with Urban Outfitters’ denim. It continues to be our bestseller across washes, and in corduroy.
We’ve also had great reactions to our new Louis Skate fit jean (£55). Louis is a straighter-legged jean, has reinforced knee panels and a vintage wash.
We find that in menswear, the PJ shape [a relaxed, slightly cropped pyjama-like shape – from £49] is a perennial favourite across washes and fabrications.
Looking ahead to spring 20, authentic vintage washes continue to be key, while acid washes and treatments are emerging. Skate details and the “carrot leg” silhouettes [with straighter leg shapes and a tapered ankle] continue to build.
Black White Denim
Joanna Davies, founder of independent retailer Black White Denim in Cheshire
Our hero item so far this year has been the Guy denim boiler suit (£225) from Boyish, our new sustainable denim brand from the US. It looks great with everything from sneakers to heels and can be easily dressed up or down.
Customers are looking for flattering denim styles. Whereas customers used to buy different daytime jeans and going-out jeans, they’re now looking for more multi-purpose styles.
Consistent favourite styles with our customers include J Brand’s Maria (from £199) and Alana (from £230) styles. Both are high-rise, skinny, stretch denim styles.
Paige Denim’s Hoxton (from £215) and Margot (from £250) – also high rise and skinny – are also popular.
Coated black styles always sell well as we approach Christmas, and distressed blue ankle crops are strong sellers in spring and summer.
Denim is becoming fashionable again across ready to wear, so we expect to see more jumpsuits, skirts, dresses, coats and jackets, and some playful washes and detailing coming in spring 20.
Boyish are particularly good with fashion styles that don’t cost the earth (either in eco or financial terms).
Blue and black skinny denims with a slight stretch are still the most popular, but we are seeing a shift towards non-stretch denim with a straighter leg.
John Lewis And/Or womenswear
Lauren Jolly, buyer, John Lewis & Partners And/Or
Spring 19 was all about the skinny, in full-length and cropped denim styles with fun asymmetric hem details.
Skinny, straight and boyfriend styles are consistently the bestsellers for us. These keep growing year on year. We’ve just launched a high-rise skinny with a frayed hem (£89) for autumn 19, which we think customers will love and will become a key player in our core styles.
The skinny jean has just gone from strength to strength for us in both indigo and black. We are now seeing much more colour coming through on denim: khaki is becoming the most popular choice.
The tie-waist, barrel-leg shape is a key denim trend for us, which launches for autumn 19.
We’re also working to source our denim more sustainably and considering the fabrics we use, starting with using a base fabric of organic cotton, recycled polyester and Lycra fibre, in order to make our products more durable.
Tanya McVicar, junior buyer, Boohoo
Our pink utility denim boiler suit (£35) was definitely our hero style for spring 19. It is bright, fun and our customers loved it. We also did a playsuit version that has now sold out.
We’ve seen great reactions to cropped and oversized denim jackets. A particular favourite is an oversized boxy cropped jacket with a waistband detail cuff (£30). It gives off a vintage, cool feminine feel.
“Mom” jeans are a consistent bestseller. They’ve been around a while now and were once a 1990s trend, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon, thanks to their comfort, style and versatility.
We also have an off-the-shoulder denim dress (£25) that has become a year-round bestseller. We now have it in various washes and prints, as well as a cord version.
Looking ahead to autumn 19 and spring 20, we’re very excited about rhinestone-embellished denim. We’re seeing this across all shapes and styles. and will be great for day to night. I love that it also works on more tomboy shapes, creating a perfect mix of masculine and feminine
Cassie Smart, head of womenswear buying, Matchesfashion
For the last couple of seasons we have seen more exploration with denim. Lead fashion items [in denim] are presented throughout ready-to-wear collections, being styled in different ways to best represent what a denim piece should look like to the designer.
This goes across all categories within ready-to-wear, an example of this would be tailoring styles from [French womenswear brand] Pallas X Claire Thomson-Jonville, which has been popular.
Some of the brands performing well for us at the moment include the Attico X Re Done collaboration, which is very classic and elevated (priced around £410) and will work in the wardrobe season upon season.
We have also seen a phenomenal response to Wardrobe NYC – the capsule womenswear brand founded by Vogue Australia fashion editor Christine Centenera.
The classic straight-leg shape is a favourite with customers. This piece never feels old and is a perfect building block to most things in the wardrobe – a style that is versatile and interchangeable. Brands where we see this style include Lemaire (£320), The Row (£560), Raey (£140) and the latest Wardrobe NYC collection with Levi’s (£162)
I don’t feel the classic straight leg will be going away for spring 20, and we will continue to see twists on luxury classics. The straight leg is also a great shape to complement the heritage separates we have been seeing in collections, to create an elevated style.
Paula Dumont Lopez, group product director, Primark
Our sustainable ankle grazer (£13) made using cotton from Primark’s sustainable cotton programme has been a hero piece for spring 19. Not only is sustainability paving the way for the fashion industry, it has also become one of the biggest growth areas in Primark’s jeans.
Sustainability continues to be a driving force behind the decisions made by our design and buying teams, and denim will be a key area of growth in a more sustainable future.
The denim bodycon dress (from £13) was a hit for spring. It was inspired by the catwalks and had exaggerated sleeve details and one-shoulder silhouettes. This was Primark’s must-have item.
The 1990s trend continues to be key, with the launch of our new ‘’vintage collection’’ for autumn 19 and the introduction of our new sustainable “mom” jean and straight-leg shapes for spring 19, which continue to drive amazing sales.
A key emphasis this winter is on our high-rise waistlines and authentic vintage washes.
The boiler suit in muted colours (from £20) is a key statement piece for autumn 19, and replaces last year’s jumpsuit. This is another must-have item.
A key trend for autumn is the curved balloon-fit jean rolled up for a nod to the 1980s. Full-volume silhouettes will take hold across denim dresses and boiler suits, and our leg shapes will go that bit wider.
River Island menswear
Tom Thurlow, senior buyer – denim, River Island
In menswear the Black Skinny Jean (£45), is always a bestseller for River Island and continues to perform. It’s the core of our range every season.
Classic five-pocket styles across all fits are performing well. More interesting is the strong customer reaction to vintage looks and distressing in modern high-stretch fabrics.
Looking ahead, I think customers are starting to explore new fits. and want more authentic and vintage looks. These lend themselves to looser, relaxed shapes – something outside the classic skinny fits.
Vanessa Spence, design director at Asos
While traditional fits like the skinny jean (£25) and “mom” (£32) remain bestsellers – more than 650,000 pairs of the styles sold so far this season – we’ve been seeing great reaction to new, fuller shapes, such as the balloon (£32) and ovoid (£35).
For the season ahead, expect pops of colour and acid washes in more exaggerated styles. We’re playing with proportions, so waists will be higher, leg shapes wider and lengths even longer.
Julie Ross, senior buyer on denim, New Look
Our customers love our paper-bag-waist styles across jeans, denim shorts and skirts (£25.99). These are a great fashion line that can be dressed up or down for any occasion, allowing our customer to get multiple wears out of her denim, which we know is important to her. Customers also still love the skinny jean as their wardrobe essential (from £15.99).
We are excited to be offering more variety in leg shapes for autumn 19, which our customer is starting to buy into for more trend pieces, such as the “mom” jean (£25.99) and the straight leg (£25.99).
Our customers consistently love our body-enhancing fits such as the Lift and Shape style (from £17.99), which we offer in Curves, Tall and Petite. Our customer also loves our waist-defining “mom” jeans (£28.99).
Our customers are still buying in to denim separates. These are becoming a wardrobe staple, and jackets, dresses and shorts are all performing well. We love all the authentic washes that dominate the denim market, and in terms of jeans, rises continue to get higher, which we think will be another trend for the forthcoming season.
Danielle Bayley, denim buyer, PrettyLittleThing
For spring 19 our key denim piece was the denim utility playsuit (£30) and a key trend was “summer vibes” of denim styles perfect for holidays and festivals.
Split-hem straight-leg jeans (£25) are performing well. They are a great update to the classic jean.
Looking ahead, utility-style denim is still strong for winter. Jackets, skirts and boiler suits are all key.
Urban Outfitters womenswear
Malika Zagzoule, head of womenswear buying, Urban Outfitters
For Urban Outfitters womenswear, the Skate Jean (£55) has been our hero item of the season in our signature black double dye with contrast stitch. A true 1990s staple that epitomises the true BDG [Urban Outfitter’s own brand denim label] customer.
Anything with authentic washes is popular and key silhouettes are the Highrise straight (£55) and the 1980s Mom jean (£55).
The Pax [retro straight-leg jean] in the summer bleach (£55) is also one of our customers’ favourites, alongside the mid-vintage Mom silhouette (£55).
We are excited to see our 1990s Modern boyfriend style [a relaxed, high-waist style] building popularity in classic stonewash blues.
For spring 20, soft whites, ecru and vintage washes are key. Waist details and fashion-forward leg profiles are a focus across all fits.
River Island womenswear
Katie Rigg, junior buyer – womenswear denim, River Island
Our authentic straight jean (£42) has continued to build over the spring season. Fashion fits, meaning non-super skinnies, are a massive growth for us from last year, so we are really pleased the customer is moving away from always wearing super-skinny.
We love the straight jean because it still gives a really authentic look, yet has a little comfort stretch in the fabric making it more wearer friendly.
Our dark rich blue washes are also selling really well. Although they are jeans, because of the lovely rich levels of the washes the customer is wearing them in a smarter way and the styles are helping to offer a really premium feel.
Our key shapes moving from autumn 19 into spring 20 are going to be Molly jeggings (£40), super-skinny Amelie (£40) and Hailey Super skinny (£40), Straight jeans and “mom” jeans (£35) – we see these as staples for everyone’s wardrobes.
We’re really feeling for high-rise jeans across all shapes from super skinny to fashion fits too. Grey washes are coming through more for spring 20 and we’re loving the charcoal tones.
Dan Carey, designer, Primark
We saw a real emergence of the 1990s streetwear and skate influences coming through for autumn 19 in Primark menswear. Vintage stonewashed denim in authentic slim and straight fits have been key additions to the range.
We are still seeing great demand in rip-and-repair denim, but this has moved on with updated vintage washes in slim fits (£18).
Skinny denim is still key for our core customer. It continues to look fresh and new with our investment in sustainable fabrics. Styles are refreshed with the introduction of new green and bright blue cast [dye] levels (£10).
Straight-cut fits, styled with a rolled hem, are a key new trend item for us for spring 20. This will be in salt and pepper finishes for the continuing 1990s style. We’ll also continue to see the exciting expansion on our sustainable denim initiative.
The high street's hot-ticket denim heroes