Distressed or embellished, periodically evolving like a recurring kaleidoscope, and with an exponential combination of fits and washes, it is no wonder that the average Gen X, Y and Z mortal has an escalating array of denim jeans. I too fall into this group!
Having globe trotted enough to have picked up jeans from every continent, I have noticed a surge in popularity for trends sourcing denim from East of the US. Many of these evoke glamor by originating from Europe, a geographical world center; west for the Eastern hippies, and East for the American yuppies. Yet, there is something intriguing about Europe originating brands, from their bolder campaigns (read as less strictly rule-bound advertising), interpretation of selling stars and stripes, to subtle yet effective environmental tie-ins.
Here is an unexhaustive list of brands that catch my fancy, based on their origin, their cutting edge ads, their die-hard for fits (either tested personally, or through friendly mentions!) and my very own eyeball for ubercool denim!
Made in Italy
Replay catches my fancy by its very name, and the prefix “Re“. It blends with the recurring wearability and nature of denim, juxtaposed with “play” to deliver something more mischievous. Replay was been introduced to me in the UK and in India, and I have quite liked its jeans-as-second-skin approach that relays sexy style and comfort all at once. Bordering the lines of Guess and Armani Exchange in its ads, Replay;s string of interesting washes make it more playful. The best men’s cuts range from skinny to slim to mossy and distressfully washed, while the women’s skinny, flared and ‘boyfriend’ fits offer a comprehensive variety. Replay’s other forte is the sepia toned Americano inspired plaid shirts and functional accessories for both men and women, which hint at a dash of metal or the hot-and-happening splash of fur, adorned by a smoky European demeanor!
Made in France
April 77 claims to be inspired by youth movements and modern history, which explains its nonchalant but edgy, minimalistic yet bold, and modern yet nostalgic feel. From de-glamorized visuals, amateur denim selection page photos, and streamlined fits that blend into backgrounds, the brand relays a sense of belonging. Top that with black, white and blue advertising of simple cuts, and you have a brand that exudes very little Parisian glamor, and a more uncharacteristic but cool, laid back appeal with a punchy attitude.
Made in Sweden
Acne is relatively new, born in 1996, when I had already stepped out of baby-growths and had started selecting my own jeans (yes, this is true denim loyalty). Mentioned as a designer brand to watch for by Elle, it’s psychedelic runway looks are made by juxtaposing block prints and textures from plastic to sheer to metal. Acne’s denim is as kaleidoscopic, from electric blue calf-cut to baggy cotton black to metallic indigo skinny jeans. And it is often complimented with red stitching (so reminiscent of a Levi’s red tab) for an electric look. At one point in history, it created unisex jeans too, where blurring the lines between menswear and womenswear, tops and bottoms, pants and shorts, sleeves and gloves, all hinted towards a paradoxical freshness.
Made in Italy
Again an Italian heritage, this one alarms me with its focus only on menswear (perhaps the alarm is because the concept is somewhat lacking in mainstream America!). Nudie, controversial as it sounds, has an environmentally conscious, hippie, tree-hugging approach that is infectiously appealing. It is also made of Italian, American, Japanese and Turkish materials. Topman-like skinny jeans on rebellious looking models are only half the story. The brand enforces recycling and reusing jeans by redesign or simple repetition. Taking pride in the manufacture, the emphasis is also on the craft, conveying superior workmanship without making the brand superficial and untouchable. And the coolest thing is the naming of its fits, which make me grin repeatedly. Like Grim Tim and Slim Jim, or Tight Long John and Average Joe! A cool way to both have fun and be conscientious all at once!
While most look westwards, I find that the inspiration lies more eastwards, at least from me. Yet, at the end of the day, you can never have enough denim, no matter where it comes from. (Time to venture across the Pacific this time!)
And thus continues my quest for eying all things denim.
What does your denim eyeball see?