Denim Market: Don’t Be Surprised by Disruptions

April 2021

Denim is a staple of modern fashion. Even if you've never owned a pair, its influences are hard to miss. But for all their ubiquity, denim jeans have been around for only a hundred and fifty years β€” or about 0.1% of the span of human history since we first started wearing clothes. However, as with any product focused on fashion trends and retail activity rather than on essential needs like food or shelter, the market faces challenges. The sustainability of the industry is also an issue, as is its environmental impact on the communities where production occurs.


Denim jeans are a classic symbol of American style. They are also one of the most commonly worn garments in the world. For some people, they are an article of clothing that is not only functional, but also stylish; for others, denim is a symbol not just of American culture, but also a signifier for masculinity and toughness.


Regardless of how the individual perceives denim clothing in general or denim jeans specifically, they've become so entrenched in our social consciousness that we all can't help but associate them with virtually anything. From 007 to Barbie, jeans have been an iconically American garment ever since Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss patented them at the turn time and introduced them to western society in 1873. And just when you think jeans couldn't get any more ubiquitous, companies make denim so important that it actually fits on the mannequin that's been posing.


With such amazing popularity, one would expect denim clothing to come with a variety of features and benefits. In a way, this is true, but it also depends on what kind of jeans are being talked about. So before getting all technical on you about the different types of denim available for consumption by the masses, let's take a look at some basic characteristics of each type and get an idea of where denim clothing falls into the spectrum from most practical to least.


As a general rule, denim will get softer and more comfortable with age. The seams and stitching will loosen up a little while the fabric itself gets softer and less stiff. Any fading that occurs will also be more subtle, or even nonexistent in the case of people who prefer their denim as dark as possible without artificially dyeing it or washing it aggressively.


On the other hand, ruggedness is gained rather than lost when a pair of jeans is aged. Jeans that are broken in to some degree are much more comfortable than new jeans, but also much more durable and able to withstand physical abuse better than new jeans could ever dream of doing.


The denim industry has experienced several major changes over time. While in 2016 denim was mostly produced in developing countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, nearly 90% of the world's denim supply came from developed countries. The United States, China, and Brazil were among the largest producers of jeans during the last couple of years.


The jeans market is the largest denim-only segment of the apparel industry, with a total market value in billions. The global denim sales reached over 41 million pairs around the world in the last two years and is expected to reach a higher value in the coming years. With this level of growth, one may assume that there are no challenges for the industry. However, as a result of economic slowdowns and increased competition in low-priced goods from China and other countries worldwide, blue jeans have been facing transformation through innovation within the supply chain in order to increase their price-value ratio.

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