Skinny Jeans: Where Did They Go?

Photo posted by @Itk.europe on Instagram

In 1853, Levi Strauss moved to San Francisco from Germany with the opportunity to cash in on a unique market that resulted in the birth of the beloved five-pocket jean. With the California Gold Rush drawing massive amounts of people hoping to strike it rich on the West Coast, breathable yet hardy attire suitable for manual labor was in high demand. America fell in love with Strauss’s resultant creation: versatile denim pants suitable for work or relaxation, which has remained an essential in every wardrobe even 170 years later.

Although the construction of the five-pocket jean has remained surprisingly consistent since the 19th century, the fashion industry has reimagined its silhouette in many ways, from wide-leg to bell-bottom to (unfortunately) low-waisted. 

The 2010s marked a resurgence in the popularity of a familiar and trustworthy friend, the skinny jean. Flattering and wonderfully versatile, form-fitting denim became a hassle-free way to accentuate the legs and tie an outfit together. Not to mention, they are easy to dress up or down depending on which other pieces they are paired with. However, it seems that skinny jeans have been on the decline since 2020, and a more relaxed silhouette is now in favor. Pictured in recent ready-to-wear collections from designers such as Kenzo and Isabel Marant, this tailoring is reminiscent of the styles that took over the 2000s.

Photo posted by @kenzo on Instagram

This style has fallen in and out of favor in the past as well, resurging in accordance with the celebrity style decisions, so it is no surprise that this has occurred once again. With many trends, even ones as ubiquitous as this, the item loses its appeal over time as it no longer feels new and exciting. Furthermore, once a style has existed long enough, people begin to associate it with the past and end up searching for something that they feel is more forward-thinking. 

However, there is likely more causing the decline of skinny jeans than the usual anatomy of trends. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown conditions have had a profound impact on the world of fashion. Forced to remain at home for extended periods of time, Americans were seeking comfort. They found that in looser-fitting pants, such as boyfriend or baggy jeans, as opposed to skinny jeans, which are flattering, yet impractical for a day spent on your living room sofa. Furthermore, once mass isolation ended and businesses began to reopen, many were starved of the feeling of glamour, wishing to change up their style and engage in new trends. It is possible that this phenomenon accelerated skinny jeans’ exit. 

Photo posted by @isabelmarant on Instagram

This is not to say that tight pants will not resurge again in the future. Once the slouching silhouettes and avant-garde references to the 2000s currently parading down designer runways run their course, it is possible that the sharp and slim styles of the previous decade will make a triumphant return. Either way, we urge you to adorn yourself in whichever style of denim you please, as the value of clothing is not dictated by trends, but by the confidence it brings to your steps. 

What is your favorite style of jeans? Let us know by tweeting us @VALLEYmag.


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