2020 has been a truly defining year for the future of denim. The industry has been in the process of significant transformation for some years, but the global pandemic has accelerated many of the major macro trends that might have taken 5 or 10 years to realise, and compressed them into a short period of time.

In a year where we have mostly been confined to our homes, this period has been a chance to reflect and reevaluate our relationship with clothing; comfort, sustainability and protection have all emerged as key consumer priorities that brands have needed to address.

The uncertainty of 2020 has also put a greater focus on products that can hold their value. Not only do consumers want clothing that is consciously made, but they are turning to familiar and timeless designs that offer a sense of security.


As history has proven, when the future is unclear, there’s comfort in looking back to our fashion pasts. That’s why during the past year of global lockdowns – and the ever-evolving conversations about sustainability in the fashion industry – people are turning to pre-worn clothes or those they already own more than ever before. In order to capitalize on this trend legacy brands and mass market retailers have been retreating to their archives as a way to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers. Much like the 2008 recession, authenticity and heritage is offering a compelling story for growth in today’s challenged market. This return to the past is the latest extension of the ongoing obsession with nostalgia, according to a new report by retail market intelligence company Edited.

“Retailers looking in on themselves is a way to create authenticity and strengthen brands,” Edited stated. “It’s common practice for retailers to look at what’s historically worked for them to inform future lines, framing that as a story in itself under heritage or archive is something that’ll drum up.”

While the spotlight on nostalgic fashion is nothing new for fashion, this renewed interest in heritage bodes well for denim. Original blue jeans label Levi’s has literally been leveraging its archive through its Secondhand initiative with a capsule collection of vintage Silvertab jeans that offer customers a chance to buy an original piece of 90s Levi’s history. Up until now the Silvertab line has been largely dormant 1999 when the brand stopped producing it. But as the cyclical nature of fashion trends work, their jeans have fallen back in vogue thanks to a renewed interest amongst Gen-Z consumers searching for the authentic anti-fits jeans that the sub-line was known for.

In order to capture the trend for oversized 90s style, Levi’s also launched its ‘Stay Loose’ collection jeans within its mainline. Not only do the jeans pay homage to the loose fits of the era, but they have also been reimagined in sustainable materials made from worn-out jeans. The successful mix of conscious design along with the comfort of loose fits is what CEO Chip Bergh believes has helped Levi’s win over young consumers this year. “As people seek out more casual comfort, we’re defining and leading trends with the launch of new, looser, more relaxed silhouettes across bottoms and tops,” Bergh told investors and analysts on a call this month.

It is this blend of heritage and responsible design that has inspired ISKO’s new ‘Denim Lovers’ program, a collection of vintage-inspired denim that is dedicated to both the purist and the fashion-forward consumer. Defined by its new but authentic character, mid to heavy weight fabrics, this collection uses technical fibre innovations to capture that original rigid look but with the added aspect of invisible stretch. Not only just indigo shades, this collection also offers a spectrum of cosmo black and light grey too.

For ISKO, it is this trick of introducing elasticity whilst maintaining the authenticity of vintage appearance that is allowing them to tap into both core denim brands like Nudie Jeans and contemporary RTW designers like ACNE and Off-White. These labels are already finding joy in options like ISKO Xmen’s™ which offers classic looks for the true denim lover, while ISKO Reform™ leans more towards authentic denim constructions with stretchy fabric technologies making it possible to define the silhouette comfortably. Colorado-based denim brand Ripton & Co. has been using ISKO denim for its functional ‘adventure denim’ designed for outdoors pursuits. The brand explains that the rigid look denim with performance elasticity provides the needed stretch and optimal freedom of movement when cruising through the mountains.


When we talk about archival denim, nothing reads vintage quite like rigid, 100 percent cotton, selvedge jeans. Selvedge jeans are the original utility staple, but over the past decade they’ve been largely overlooked due to the rise of stretchy, spray-on skinnies. While jeggings have certainly fed our desire for comfort and an illusion of a lean figure, in 2020 consumers are looking for denim that can provide them something durable and classic. And what is more timeless than the irresistible, vintage look you only get with rigid jeans.

The last time we saw peak interest in selvedge was during the 2008 recession, when heritage looks boomed. Now in a similar era of uncertainty its unsurprising consumers are turning back to the timeless and durable fabric. This time around, we have the added benefit of comfort thanks to a new era of fibre technologies that offer original vintage characteristics synonymous with rigid jeans but with the added functionality of stretch.

It’s not all about stretch though and there are some more purist contemporary brands who are looking for new and modern ways to offer rigid selvedge. Take British menswear brand, Studio Nicholson for example who looks to the wide, loose fits typical of Japan’s minimalist mens style. Here, exaggerated volume allows for more freedom of movement and creates a new comfort driven direction for denim.

ISKO’s approach to selvedge is all about giving a modern touch and responsible outlook. That’s why the mill has backed the collection up with its R-TWO™ concept which uses a blend of reused cotton and recycled polyester that comes from yarn lost during the production process. On top of this, the introduction of stretch gives brands at all levels of the market the chance to achieve that rigid, raw look but with the added function of stretch. Up until now it has been technically challenging for mills to achieve high stretch, whilst maintaining a heritage look. But ISKO’s new range of selvedge fabrics offers a slubby, open end character with 30-35 percent elasticity. On top of that the ISKO R-WASH™ technology in collaboration with Creative Room™, reduces the shrinkage of fabrics usually associated with raw. Applied in garment form, it offers a better fit with less shrinkage.


Comfort dressing – or ‘quarantine style’ – was a fashion force to be reckoned with during COVID-19. Under quarantine, consumers didn’t dress up because they had nowhere to go. Now that they’re returning to work, or in some regions entering phase two of lockdown, they’re wearing relaxed, understated styles not because they have to, but because they want to.

Despite sensationalist headlines stating “Nobody wants to wear jeans when they’re working from home” there has been valid data backing up that people are, in fact, still wearing their jeans despite WFH during quarantine. A recent survey by ISKO disclosed that real denim lovers still wear denim. In fact here is a quote from a well-known denimhead: “I opt for my boyfriend’s jeans and an oversized tee most of the time, and of course I have to pair this with a good pair of fluffy slippers. Whoever said you’re crazy for wearing jeans in quarantine is wrong. They just haven’t found the right pair.”

Creating the right pair that balances the authentic character of denim, with the suppleness and soft handling that we desire from athletic wear is the sweet spot that ISKO has achieved with its new fabric proposition, Simplify. With a focus on 80s-inspired looks, the collection consists of a range of fabrics that span from 5.5oz to 13.25oz offering classic well-loved vintage styles for an easy, effortless look that aims to take the stress out of everyday dressing. Think retro open end looks synonymous with 501s of the era, but with the modern aspects of stretch and vivid indigo and vintage black shades. Italian label Replay recently introduced its Hyperflex Reused collection, a line of comfort stretch denims using ISKO’s Simplify fabrics. The denim is made with recycled cotton fibres that are lost, recovered and reused during the spinning process, while the polyester is made from recycled pet bottles.

When developing the collection ISKO acknowledged how the lifestyles were shifting and how consumers were starting to seek out a new simple combination in their denim. By simple this doesn’t mean cheap, basic products, rather a shift in mindset where consumers want to use less and live life in a simpler way. For denim this has resulted in a more modest and responsible approach to dressing that doesn’t sacrifice style over sustainability. If there is one thing the pandemic has shown us is that sustainability is no longer an option, it is a must.

It’s this contemporary take on vintage and timeless style that is helping contemporary brands like Fear of God win the hearts of consumers. Founder and designer Jerry Lorenzo has become known for his defiantly understated clothes, based on his personal style. For the brand’s latest offering titled ‘Seventh Collection’, Lorenzo has moved away from the rugged workwear style typically associated with the brand, and instead moved towards a more elegant American sophistication that he refers to as “comfortable and considered.”

For Lorenzo, the essence of style remains being able to feel at home in any room. “Luxury is being comfortable in your own skin and able to move at your own pace,” he explained in a Harper Bazaar interview. “So many times, though, when someone dresses up for an occasion, they step into a silhouette that’s a lot different from how they look the rest of the week. They don’t feel comfortable, and it shows. So with Fear of God, we’re trying to blend all of these life moments together in one wardrobe that offers comfort and functionality at the same time as elegance and sophistication.” These pairings seem incredibly relevant at a time when consumers demand more from their clothes with pieces that can easily transition from a work from home environment to an actual office with virtually no change.