Imagine waking up in the morning and being able to slide into a pair of jeans that feel soft and comfortable to wear while you work from home, perform yoga and try to recreate a viral trend on TikTok. In the past, this has irked denim wearers who like their denim rough and rigid; however, that is no longer the case.
According to the Cotton Lifestyle Monitor, nearly half of all consumers surveyed indicated that the activewear and athleisure wear had replaced denim in their wardrobes. The report also states that the athleisure market could hit a $260 billion valuation by 2026. The possibilities are endless, and it may also be an opportunity for the denim industry to explore technical innovations and fabrics offering high performance.
Here are three directions that could change the denim industry in 2021:
To introduce biodegradability in stretch constructions, we predict that many denim mills will opt for natural alternatives to polyester such as hemp, soy, linen, and bamboo combined with more traditional fibres such as cotton — both organic and recycled, Tencel™, and Modal.
As people get accustomed to a ‘new normal’, they will seek comfort in familiar and comforting styles — for example, tie-dyes, retro-fits, 70s flair and 90s grunge. We see workwear and streetwear taking off as they have also become symbolic to social movements such as #BLM and #FridaysForFuture.
The Lifestyle Monitor™ survey, conducted in March 2020, stated that 70 per cent of consumer favoured cotton as the most comfortable denim fibre to wear. Comes as unsurprising, since denim is still mostly synonymous with cotton; however, this creates opportunities for mills to favour natural fibre blends with cotton that would appeal to consumers’ desire for softer, more durable breathable denim.
Companies like Dorlet have taken it upon themselves to improve the trims supply chain by offering sustainable alternatives using a 4-pronged approach:
The denim industry is on the verge of genuinely accelerated change, from digitisation to improved communications around certification and lifecycle assessments. Nevertheless, it isn’t an overnight transformation. Many mills feel the need to respond to ‘greenwashing’ claims that the industry has faced for a while. Although consumers call out brands on how they treat the planet and people, including their employees, it falls upon the mills and manufacturers behind the brands to set an example unlike ever seen ever before. We must be proactive, experimental, and compliant with the world’s social and environmental standards to weave a better future for denim.