Jeans innovators gathered in Barcelona to show off their wares to buyers looking for something different.
With global sales worth $51bn (£30.4bn) in 2013 and 60 pairs of jeans sold every second, denim is a serious business. Denim by Première Vision, which took place from May 21-22 in Barcelona, is the largest trade show of its kind dedicated to this market.
Previously based in Paris, it relocated to Spain into a larger exhibition space at the Fira Montjuic venue. The move certainly re-energised the show, with 100 exhibitors in total, up 5% on last May and visitor numbers increasing an impressive 45% compared with last year to almost 4,500, with 72% of them being international buyers.
The mood was happy and upbeat due to a strong season of sales and a return to confidence in denim as a whole, with buyers reporting sales in stores were up on last year, with increases of as much as 30%. Many Drapers spoke to said sales were split between stretch denim, where sales remained strong on men’s and women’s, and authentic denim in skinny and relaxed fits.
According to show director Chantal Malingrey-Perrin, denim creators are getting their indigo hands dirty and looking for new ways to innovate, from fibres to finishings, and there was plenty on show to get them excited. UK teams from the likes of Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Whistles, Marks & Spencer, River Island, Topshop, Tesco, Oasis, Asos and Primark were spotted looking for that special something to make their collections stand out from the competition.
While rival show Kingpins, which launched in May in Amsterdam, may have proved to be an inspiring and innovative event, Denim by PV remains the show where buyers do business.
● Relaxed dressing
More than just the boyfriend jean, relaxed denim has been this summer’s hit. Asos women’s denim designer Zara Appodo said it is expanding its relaxed-style denim ranges, and when a new style goes live it instantly sells out.
● White denim
Each summer, buyers tentatively stock up on white and then watch as most shoppers turn a blind eye. This summer, however, white is the must-have colour, with shoppers looking at it as an investment.
● Trading up
The value of more expensive technical stretch fabrics has been recognised, with shoppers willing to pay more for jeans that fit, flatter and last.
● Slim jeans
Denim is certainly back, dominating menswear sales in the UK, with sales of chinos and non-denim significantly down on the year before. The main fit of choice has been a slimmer cut, from super-skinny to slightly slimmer, tapered styles. Key washes include raw, super pales, greys and black, with a focus on slimmer, skinnier fits.
● Comfort and softness
It seems once men have tried stretch fabrics, there is no going back - and that applies across all fits, whether a straight-leg, relaxed jean or skinny cut. Comfort and softness is valued, and such fabrics play a major part in sales.
For the insider’s story on how brands are forging new frontiers in denim, we spoke to leading figures in the market
Hudson’s philosophy is to create jeans that fit the individual worlds of its customers, and we have recognised how activewear brands are affecting consumers’ expectations of denim performance in the US and Europe. We work closely with leading fabric mills to develop exclusive fabrics that have the look of a jean combined with the comfort of activewear.
- Ben Taverniti, head of design, Hudson Jeans
It took a team of 13 engineers to create Isko’s leading performance stretch fabric, which has up to 50% elasticity. The idea behind it was to create a denim that had maximum stretch recovery and hold - a fabric so compact and body-forming that it has a slimming effect. There is also less need for washing as the fabric holds its shape so well. The customer may not know why it is different, but they understand the effect.
- Baris Ozden, head of product development at denim manufacturer Isko
New frontier in sustainable denim
Cutting-edge sustainable technology is allowing more and more brands to create authentic denim products. I believe that more brands are quietly opting in for the sustainable approach - not as a marketing ploy, but as the right commercial option. Spanish denim finishing business Jeanologia is a leader in pioneering finishing technology such as using lasers to create worn effects at the fabric stage, wearing down colour without bleach using ozone gas, and Eflow, which washes denim with nanotechnology and reduces water use. These technologies are saving costs in denim production and creating
great-looking products, as well as being more sustainable.
- Trevor Harrison, design director, Pepe Jeans London
Innovating to stand out
Denim brands need to differentiate by not simply following trends, but creating them. Across the market, brands have access to the same pool of fabric suppliers and garment makers, but customers are increasingly savvy. If a brand plays it too safe, they are at risk of customer indifference. By taking risks - adding inventions such as special coatings, exclusive washes or specially created button finishes - they build their brand’s unique appeal and create further reasons to choose it.
- Ryo Yamada, design director, denim at Tommy Hilfiger Denim and Calvin Klein Jeans