Denim is at the vortex of fashion and is a quintessential piece of European youth culture, often defining the new trends in “lifestyle” just by what’s moving in or out of popularity in denim. As Bread & Butter Barcelona takes place January 16-18 introducing new styles and trends in denim in particular, Label Networks Europe takes a look at top trends from a consumer perspective of what’s happening in the streets overall based on data and analysis from the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. In Part 1 of our Denim reports from Europe, we look at trends overall, with data on top brands in next week’s report.
Macro Trends on Denim from a Pan-European Perspective
Like the T-shirts section and Footwear, when it comes to Fashion and the youth culture marketplace, denim is one of the most vital sections to review in Label Networks’ European section. Denim not only indicates fashion trends and potential for brands (even those that have not yet entered the fashion marketplace) but also indicates cultural trends and attitudes. For example, the growing DIY movement in youth culture and importance of personalizing one’s own wardrobe. In one sense this has made getting just any pair of denim important as well as polarizing those who seek the find in vintage and thrift stores for different era denim at less expensive prices. The marketplace is wide and niche and moving in most every direction possible which can also be seen by the decreased percentages for top brands overall. Such innovation shouldn’t deter one from entering the competitive denim market, if anything it means opportunity. But it’s important to know at what price point and what target demographic because not everyone can be a selvedged denim brand from Japan selling at boutiques, nor does everyone want to. There are market opportunities in the competitive denim landscape, as indicated by the market size outlined here, within each age group and gender.
Key trends in fashion moving into ’08-09 involve the invariable staples, such as utilitarian clothing, including denim at the very core, spiraling out to modifications on that which is less utilitarian and extremely fashionable but less durable. The interesting thing about the denim market in North America vs. Europe vs. Japan is that it started out as a utilitarian fabric and style in America and has since moved into a key aspect of personal fashion. Whereas just the opposite is the case of denim’s history from Europe and Japan where the material was seen as fashion first, not utilitarian. The average prices paid for denim jeans in Europe is generally higher on average than in North America. However this year, one distinct trend is how “utilitarian” denim brands and old-school American brands such as Carhartt, Lee, and Wrangler are increasingly among top denim jean brands across Europe.
With denim today, young people adopt at least one coveted pair of jeans in their wardrobe by the time they’re in their teens. On average, they buy 3.5 pairs every 12 months. They are increasingly buying up store-named brands, or lower price point denim, but mixed with a special coveted pair of premium or environmental denim with a story. This trend of buying special “conscious” denim brands such as Sugar Cane Dungarees and Howies, even Levi’s green tag, as well as brands known for their “story” and reputation for fit such as 7 for All Mankind or Cheap Monday, or cigarette-leg or rock-influenced styles such as Nudie, or high-waisted such as 18th Amendment are among the many emerging subcultures within denim that are moving the marketplace into niche directions. This is quantified in the lower percentages overall for the top brands, and increase in new brands within the top percentages including a number of brands coming fromSwedenwhich is becoming a new burgeoning marketplace.
In terms of DIY, people are experimenting with a variety of different looks: from clean to really thrashed and dirty to stovepipes, cigarette-leg, high-waisted, and second-skin or gripper jeans. Young people are choosing their denim’s and washes to match their mood and this is reflected in sales patterns. Baggy, rigid denim with holes and paint splatters, the rise of colored denim, or denim specializing in African cotton, Japanese manufacturing, Italian washed, and vintage finishes can also tell new stories and drive new consumers to various brands.
Stay tuned for Part 2 on Denim fromEuropewith Top Brands from Consumers 15-25-year-olds across theUK,France,Italy,Spain, andGermany. In additional, Label Networks’ Premium Subscribers can expect charts and graphs by gender and age groups and by country with additional analysis and forecasting. For information on the Premium Global Subscription 2008, email firstname.lastname@example.org; (323) 630-4000.