Has your body become a bit, um, wider during the pandemic? There’s a new fashion trend that can help you hide the sins — and make you feel more comfortable in the process.
Wide-legged jeans are officially back, the Wall Street Journal reported, a la ’90s-favorite brand JNCO. Marking the trend’s revival is a 2005 photo of Ralph Lauren — one that shows him wearing a barrel-cut pair of jeans — which social media has recently resurfaced in celebration of the nostalgic look.
The reasons for the wide-legged cut’s comeback vary, but the pandemic and the styles that sprung from it probably play a role.
Andrew Chen, a co-owner of New York City denim brand 3sixteen, told the Journal that “with people being home a lot and wanting to be comfortable,” shoppers have shifted to a baggier jean that “isn’t always reminding you of its presence on your body.”
That’s a nice way of putting it.
The brand, which sells jeans for north of $200, has a “Classic Straight” fit with an 8-inch hem that’s been a popular get.
That isn’t to say JNCO is out of the game. The brand still sells a number of super-wide-legged styles, one of which has a shocking 50-inch bottom opening, from a slightly more reasonable start price: $150. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, couture brands Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta sell tube-legged denim for a respective $595 and $980.
This all seems to upend the long-standing preference for skinny-leg jeans, which not only have the ability to get, shall we say, swampy, in the heat, but are generally not very forgiving.
Kevin Ibanez, a 29-year-old nursing assistant from San Diego told the Journal that skinny jeans, though he wore them for years, never really fit his “hefty” stature right. Now he’s found the perfect Levi’s bootcut 517s that sit easier on his frame.
Levi’s also has the “Stay Loose” style, which was released last year. Janine Chilton-Faust, the global VP of men’s design at Levi Strauss & Co., told the Journal this style is inspired by today’s skateboarders who were trending toward wider jeans, some even 1 inch larger than their waist size for extra room.
That generation is “really gravitating toward the looser, baggier fits,” she said.
Pop culture is a reason for the rise, too.
Musicians including Billie Eilish and Bad Bunny prefer baggier looks — and Noah Zagor, the senior menswear strategist at trend-forecasting agency WGSN, said, “We look to people like that for inspiration.”
But those much-wider jeans that Lauren wore in 2005? The Journal notes styles that wide, which tend to favor slightly more narrow silhouettes, won’t be in stores anytime soon.