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The Debrief: The Decline of the Skinny Jean

This week on The Debrief, BoF correspondent Chavie Lieber chronicles the rise and fall of the once-dominant denim silhouette — and explains why it’ll never go away completely.
The Debrief.
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Background:

After years of analyst anticipation that the appeal of the leg-squeezing silhouette would fade, market research firm NPD Group found sales of skinny jeans finally fell behind straight-leg jeans in 2021. Skinny jeans are far from dead, though — still accounting for 30 percent of denim sales in the US. However, retailers have already felt the effects of the shift: teen chain Pacsun pulled the style from its stores because no one was buying it.

“It really just speaks to the changing of the times and how styles are evolving within fashion,” said BoF correspondent Chavie Leiber.

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Key Insights:

  • Skinny jeans are no longer the most popular denim silhouette, according to data from NPD Group. But that doesn’t mean no one is buying them.
  • As consumers come out of the pandemic, they don’t just want comfort. Shoppers are either skewing toward raw denim with no stretch or athleisure and leggings — but jegging and stretch-denim styles occupying the in-between have started to fall to the wayside.
  • The world is in the midst of a “denim renaissance,” says Marie Pearson, senior vice president of denim at Madewell, who added she’s never seen so many different types of fits and shapes selling.

Additional Resources:

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