Denim’s Tryst with Revival

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Denim, a fabric made of cotton, was firstly used to make working clothes, and later on, other types of garments including shirts, jackets and jeans. Moving forward, product innovations with designs, patterns, colours and fits, and rise of fashion sense helped the denim market grow further. This feature encapsulates one of fashion’s most revolutionary products and top leaders in the segment.

Global denim jeans market is projected to reach 3.5 billion units by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 3.7 per cent. Asia Pacific will grow at a highest 4.3 per cent CAGR while North America, accounting for about 28.7 per cent of total market as per a recent report by Fibre2Fashion, is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 3.3 per cent up to 2026. In 2020, denim jeans market was estimated to be worth 2.5 billion units.

Jeans Snapshot

According to a 2020 report on the trends in denim, jeans with regular fit mostly worn by average men and women body shapes is the most-in-use. In terms of price-positioning, the affordably priced jeans sell maximum in low-income group and developing countries with low per capita jeans consumption. Gender wise, women segment is gaining traction especially in countries like Brazil, China and India where the number of office-going women is on the rise. Within retail channels, the hypermarket and supermarket formats contribute highest to sales of jeans owing to factors such as availability of large collection under one roof and competitive price offers, increased urbanisation and rise in working class population, besides growing count of these retail formats. Among regions, North America was found to be the highest contributor of jeans market and is expected to stay at the top in coming years too.

Market Trends

The key drivers of today’s denim market are rise in spending capacity and per capita consumption of denim jeans, consciousness regarding the clothes suitable for the body types, and acceptance of casual wear in offices. Increasing social media penetration and fashion influencers also act as catalyst in helping denim market grow. 

Recent popularity of coloured denims and consistent launch of newer styles have helped in expanding demand for denims. Since jeans have evolved into a multipurpose or more rightly an all-purpose attire, its consumption has only increased manifold. Though home confinement during pandemic lockdowns impacted the sale of denim at a global scale, their share in wardrobe and usage never declined due to their availability as pre-COVID collection. As lockdowns were temporary, sales of jeans are reported to have revived back as soon as August 2021 in the world’s most of the markets. The alternate products of lockdowns, such as sweatpants and casual bottoms, began experiencing higher discounts by retailers and lower investments by manufacturers. However, consumers exposed to the comforts of these products while staying at home, now seek similar features in their denims too. While the skinny jeans remains a staple, it is falling out of favour with younger consumers, giving way for straighter and baggy silhouettes. Retailers are also making strides to prioritise recycled, responsible and regenerated denim. As per estimates, 39 per cent denim assortments have had a sustainable transformation, up from 16 per cent in 2019. Only 9 per cent of plus-size jeans currently available use alternatives to conventional cotton and 3 per cent of styles can be categorised as ‘recycled’ directing retailers to innovate with plant-based dyes and resource-saving alternatives. Jeans dominated denim collections across SS21, making up 48 per cent of all bottom arrivals at youth-oriented retailers. 

The denim trade has also evolved. Now the ability to manufacture new styles and test them in the market do not involve much of financial risk as it used to be in the past. Several retailers, therefore, have made this their entire business strategy. For instance, Shein, the fast-fashion brand popular with Gen Z, claims to add some 1,000 products to its website every day peaking even up to more than 6,600 styles of women’s jeans on certain days. In addition, ‘personal’ style as opposed to trend-based is also a popular idea today. 


A review of top five global denim players will further throw some light on the recent developments and progress in the denim market.


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