Amidst all the denim blue at Kingpins, it was a colourful affair on the top floor of the denim fair’s home SugarCity on Thursday afternoon, October 20. There, trend watchers Amy Leverton and Shannon Reddy of Denim Dudes presented the denim trends for SS24, with a colourful PowerPoint full of images for inspiration.
Reddy and Leverton grouped the trends into four broader 'trend stories': 'XS', 'Burned out', 'The last tourist' and 'Ethos'. All four stories, according to Leverton and Reddy, are in their own way a response to the turbulent times we live in, ranging from escapism to rebellion and from depression to hope. Those tendencies were translated on site into colour schemes, washes, stitching and silhouettes.
If you say 'XS' out loud in English, the native language of both the American Reddy and the British Leverton, you get 'excess'. In a year and a half, that excess will typify the style of Gen Z in particular, the generation of young adults who are now approximately between fourteen and 25 years old. But that excess is given a clear direction: it is cast in the form of noughties silhouettes and very personal creative excesses.
For denim, that includes the return of the Canadian tuxedo, the top-to-toe denim suit worn by Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears at the American Music Awards in 2001. Reddy and Leverton also predicted the return of low-cut jeans. And of course, XS was not spelled that way by accident: the title references the tiny shorts that will also make a reappearance.
At the same time, in 2024, wearers are putting their own spin on it, with inventive ways to personalise denim. For example, garments are worn backwards or upside down, cut into pieces, or decorated with paint and rhinestones.
As a trend story, 'Burned Out' is seemingly diametrically opposed to the glitter and glamour of the previous one. It is a reaction to the same circumstances, but darker and rawer, and based on a more pessimistic view of the future. As an example, Reddy and Leverton displayed Rick Owens' recent show in Paris, where the backdrop consisted of the high white walls of the Palais de Tokyo and three burning globes along the catwalk. The world is on fire, Owens seemed to have said with the smoking orbs.
Burned Out is also a reaction to celebrity culture and the spectacular images of social media, and contrasts it with realism. The popularity of the Be Real app, on which users share an unpolished image of their lives every day, also testifies to this penchant for realism. The characters in this trend story - summer or not - are dressed in more subdued colours, predominantly in black and grey. The silhouettes are looser and a lot more casual. In response to the ecological crisis, a lot of denim is also reused in new garments.
The last tourist
For the third story, Reddy and Leverton begin with a striking critique of today's tourism industry, and the way in which tourists - especially on all-inclusive travel - withdraw from the locals of the place they visit. Related to this is the phenomenon of cultural appropriation in fashion, in which specifically Western brands adopt techniques and motifs from other clothing cultures and take advantage of them without giving anything in return.
In contrast, Leverton and Reddy set a story based on admiration and respect for different cultures and on mutual curiosity and cooperation. From this they distil a denim trend in which materials, prints and techniques from all over the world come together, from quilting to boro and patchwork. In addition, there is also a vibrant colour palette including popping blue, pink and yellow.
The last story is the most commercial, according to Leverton and Reddy. 'Ethos' builds on last year's theme 'Softly', but according to the two has a more spiritual touch. This story focuses on connecting with nature, at a time when man is largely alienated from it. This connection is sometimes very practical: materials and dyes, for example, are made from only natural fibres and ingredients.
Denim pants and jackets are loose or even oversized and offer the wearer comfort and room to move. As far as materials are concerned, there is as little processing as possible: there is a lot of use of ‘raw’ denim, unwashed and untorn - the artificial is kept outside the door. However, techniques can be used to make denim look as if it has been bleached outside by the sun. The loose silhouettes and soft look, according to Reddy and Leverton, make these denim trends appealing to a large audience.
This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.NL. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.