As athleisure proves itself to be more than a passing trend, comfort in denim continues to be in demand, and in men’s, that means more stretch.
At Global Denim, the mill is seeing the amount of stretch featured in men’s denim increase. A year ago, men were only wearing 15-20 percent stretch denim, said Leon Gateño, sales and customer care director. Now, he says men wear jeans that go up to 30 percent, which was traditionally reserved for women’s products.
Hakan Anuk, a sales rep at Calik, said that at first, stretch denim looked very feminine because it was compact and flat with no character, but now companies are using chunkier twills. A continuing issue with stretch denim, however, is the shrinkage that occurs in both directions, which Anuk said makes the fabric lose character.
Calik sells a lot of stretch denim, for both men and women’s styles, to American brands, especially those based in Los Angeles. The mill has created a number of stretch denims with vintage character, including vertical slubs, cross-hatch and salt and pepper effects. Calik also has a fabric called “raw stretch,” which has the appearance of raw denim with 16-20 percent elasticity.
These styles play into the fashion market’s current interest in vintage styles and rigid denims. Jacques Turcotte, sales and merchandising at Denim International USA, pointed out that the stretch trend has definitely reached the everyday consumer. Kohl’s and Old Navy now stock stretch jeans, and he said that has, in turn, pushed premium brands like True Religion away from stretch.
Turcotte suggested that there may be a changing notion of comfort. There are the comfort styles that have been very popular like Nike leggings, but now the standard may be switching to subtler versions like a one percent comfort stretch jean.