From Abercrombie’s rebranding to the Prada Spring 2021 organic denim line, denim is making a comeback in ways we’ve never seen. Dresses, bras and purses are all made of denim. The re-emergence of this trend has come with its own alterations too — excessive rips, raw edges, unique washes, seam placement and patchwork elevate this trend to another level. Let’s show some appreciation for the big blue of the fashion industry.
Sporting denim skirts and skorts, shorts and suits, University of Miami students swarmed Nashville during fall break to let loose in the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and the country music capital.
Whether it was morning brunch at Stateside Kitchen, bar hopping along Honky Tonk Highway or catching concerts throughout all hours of the night, about 100 ’canes descended on the city in denim.
They weren’t intentionally pushing a denim agenda. Rather, they realized, like everybody else, that denim has crept back into their wardrobe.
“Denim made me feel like a true man on those streets of Nashville,” said Mikhal Akhund, a senior business law major who traveled to Nashville with five friends.
Senior advertising major Abby Gendell packed her jeans and denim skirt for the weekend trip.
“A lot of people were excited to strut their denim on Broadway,” said Gendell, referring to the popular strip of bars, restaurants and live music in Nashville.
Maybe, denim has never really gone away after exploding onto the fashion scene in the 1950s, initially popularized by Elvis Presley. A hundred years earlier, denim was worn as work pants on farms and in factories.
Calvin Klein, one of the most famous denim brands in America, has been at the top of the denim game for decades, particularly with its celebrity commercials. In 1980, “it girl” Brooke Shields launched her first Calvin Klein campaign featuring the slogan, “Do you want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”
The commercial became a media sensation.
“Denim is always in, and always will be,” the Calvin Klein website boasts. Every year, the designer brand comes out with a new celebrity denim commercial that makes such a simple item of clothing an iconic must-have. This year’s campaign features celebrities Kendall Jenner, Kid Cudi and Alexa Demie.
“Denim is timeless,” said junior marketing major Catarina Whitaker, who recently added two fun, new pieces from Free People to her ever-growing denim collection.
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s iconic double denim outfit made its debut in 2001 at the American Music Awards, defining fashion for the entire decade. The early 2000s are known for featuring its famous “ugly denim” and tacky Y2K looks that some would classify as heinous.
Think about celebrities such as Ashley Tisdale, Selena Gómez and Bella Thorne during their time on Disney Channel. Each celebrity fashioned denim on and off the screen, such as layering dresses and skirts over jeans or wearing jeans so low to the point of falling off.
This re-emergence of denim gives the famous phrase “Canadian tuxedo,” a denim jacket with a pair of jeans, a whole new meaning. It certainly can be defined as “ugly denim,” but you simply can’t look away. It’s an eye-catcher, and that is what people love about it — the absurdity of it all.
Now, the younger generations have begun to style denim like how they used to see on the red carpet.
Having undergone many transitions throughout the fashion industry, denim continues to be a wardrobe staple. Other clothing items, such as shoes or accessories, will fluctuate in trendiness, but denim continues to make a statement in the public eye.
“I love that overalls are making a comeback,” said Julia Lubarsky, a junior computer science major. “I can throw them on for class, or over a bathing suit to go to the beach. They are such a quick, comfy and cute outfit.”
While a high-quality pair of jeans can last for years, denim is not just for jeans. This generation has been revamping old denim pieces and discovering new trends, almost creating an ode to the 2000s. The iconic Y2K style has made a strong emergence in social media, and young adults everywhere have started taking the old trends out of retirement.
The possibilities of jean outfits are endless regarding style and wash. Denim has a sense of comfort and durability without sacrificing style. Whether it’s a pair of flare jeans or cutoff shorts, there is a denim style for everyone. Some trends that fashion designers predict will continue to gain traction include denim on denim, low-rise denim, bejeweled jeans, maxi jean skirts and overalls.
In recent years secondhand shopping, also known as thrifting, has captivated teens and young adults to find vintage pieces to rework into their wardrobe, particularly denim. When people thrift, they can find unique clothing items that are valuable and unique.
Kayla Sullivan, a senior majoring in education, started thrifting about two years ago while visiting Connecticut and New York.
“It’s like a treasure hunt. Thrifting is so fun to do with friends to find more unique clothing at a cheaper price,” said Sullivan.
Revitalizing these vintage pieces into modern everyday fashion has contributed to the Y2K style emergence of 2023. These style choices are not only being applied to women’s fashion, as young men also have their take on the denim development. Specifically, a lot of young men have a love of jean shorts, or “jorts.”
“I love my jorts because they allow me to remain stylish with the denim look, but without sweating bullets,” said Joe Anillo, a junior majoring in media production. “You have to adapt to beat the heat down here in Miami.”
And it’s not just a Miami thing.
Luke Crouch, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., has been wearing denim for years and will continue to style his jeans for all different occasions.
“Jeans are like beer, you can’t have just one,” said Crouch.
words_juliana warnock & darby steininger. photo_sharron lou. design_lizzie kristal.
This article was published in Distraction’s Winter 2023 print issue.
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