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May 6, 2021

The Skinny on Skinny Jeans

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We all heard the news earlier this year that Gen Z cancelled skinny jeans. This generation declared on popular social media platform, TikTok, that Millennials who wear skinny jeans are trying to look younger, but instead wearing them really signifies the exact opposite (in their opinion). Given the strength of the stances taken almost immediately on both sides of the issue, one must wonder, has the TikTok viral movement impacted jean sales?

COVID-19 put many categories on the back burner, as much of the nation gravitated towards sweatpants and pajamas. But as summer months approach, coupled with the widespread distribution of vaccines and the reopening of businesses and schools in many states, consumer attention is now returning to some apparel categories that were put on pause, including jeans.  

Skinny jeans, which incorporated more comfort elements, like stretch, tummy panels, and slimming properties these last few years, continue to make up the largest share of women’s jeans (34% of dollar sales in the U.S., which declined 6 share points, year over year).* Wider styles, such as slim, relaxed, and baggy, are gaining share in the jeans market, largely due to the popularity of the “mom jean,” the “boyfriend jean,” and a resurgence of ‘80s and’90s styling; however, they still account for a smaller share of the market overall.

After wearing comfort bottoms for over a year, many people wonder whether the jean styles women are looking to buy in the next 6 to 12 months has changed, as nearly 40% are now wearing a different size, compared to a year ago, indicating a need for new apparel.

Of the 80% of female consumers who said they plan to buy jeans for themselves in the next 6 to 12 months, the top three styles were straight, skinny, and (tied for third) high-rise and bootcut. Looking specifically at younger consumers (age 18 to 34)—including a good portion of Millennials -- nearly half stated they still plan to buy skinny jeans, followed by high-rise, straight, and distressed jeans.**

From new work-from-home (WFH) schedules, to more casual outings, apparel categories will evolve in a post-COVID-19 world -- and so will skinny jeans. This evolution could shift interest from super-skinny styles to more relaxed skinny-hybrid offerings with slimmer, yet roomier, options. At the end of the day, skinny jeans are not leaving the marketplace but will instead adapt to fit our lifestyles better. Now, what to do about parting our hair?

*Source: The NPD Group/ Consumer Tracking Service, 12ME March 2021
**Source: The NPD Group/ Omnibus April 2021



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