What's the Future of Denim? Culture Trip Asks an Expert

WGSN Sustainable Denim Collection at Amsterdam's Denim Days © WGSN
WGSN Sustainable Denim Collection at Amsterdam's Denim Days © WGSN
Photo of India Doyle
8 May 2017

Trends in fashion come and go, but denim is for life – at least that’s the way it seems, given the recent resurgence of love for the material. Culture Trip caught up with Dio Kurazawa to investigate why.

It’s no surprise that denim is back. In an age when people are beginning to value quality and sustainability over ‘fast fashion’, denim is an easy leader in both categories. Like leather, it wears with age, often looking better as the years go on. This, coupled with the rise of brands such as Vetements and Gucci, who are selling denim as a luxury item (rather than just selling expensive jeans, though the two are by no means mutually exclusive) means that there’s never been a more exciting time to reignite your relationship with this much overlooked staple. This combination of denim as both fashion item and evergreen purchase allows it to occupy an exciting place in the market, and the possibilities for what designers can do with a material that has enduring appeal is exciting. But what does the future of denim actually look like? Post his voyage to Amsterdam’s major denim festival, Denim Days, and with the release of WGSN’s first sustainable denim collection, Culture Trip asked Dio Kurazawa, Denim Director at trend forecasting agency WGSN, to give us the skinny on what the future of denim looks like.

Culture Trip: Denim is having a major ‘moment’. What do you think caused the resurgence of interest in the material?

Dio Kurazawa: Statistically, the work environment has become more casual. Therefore the opportunity for denim and knit denim has increased.

CT: How does the denim industry become more sustainable? What are the biggest challenges?

DK: Focusing on social responsibility as a core is how all textile industries become sustainable. If this is the core focus, then all decisions made consider this as a fundamental aspect. We’ve seen little result in small capsule collections focused on sustainability.

@liuwenlw in Off-White™ at the Met. Voted on Vogue best dresses list.

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CT: In your opinion, what have been the most exciting developments in denim over the last decade?

DK: Recycling old jeans to make new ones – which is what brands such as Nudie Jeans are doing. Or you can look at initiatives such as Evernu x Levi’s, where cotton tees are used to make jeans.

CT: Who are the designers to watch in the denim scene, and who’s setting great examples in how to be sustainable?

DK: I AND ME, Levi’s and Blazinbell.

CT: In terms of your own relationship with denim, what were your earliest memories of the material?

DK: I’m the third generation of knit and denim manufacturing out of Southeast Asia. My first memories are of my family working in our factory.

CT: What are your favourite styles right now?

DK: Cropped and pleated chino denim for men and high waist for women.

CT: Levi’s teamed up with Vetements to produce a £1000 pair of jeans recently – is denim couture coming?

DK: I think we’re there. Brands such as Christopher Shannon, Off-White and Balenciaga have similar offerings.

#VETEMENTSxLEVIS www.ssense.com

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CT: Fashion isn’t famed for being functional, but the ripped jeans trend perplex many. What’s the obsession…

DK: Customisable looks are again popular in denim. As a staple, it’s often a desire to personalise denim to give it a bit more edge.

CT: You’ve spent the week at Denim Days in Amsterdam – was there anything that surprised you?

DK: I actually focus more on garment shows. CIFF, Revolver, Liberty and Capsule are more relevant for me. There we can discover new and rediscover established brands that influence trends. Kingpins/PV are fabric trade shows that offer little in the way of inspiration. These are more networking events for ‘denimhead‘ purists. I’m more interested in what denim can be, not what is has been.

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