With new brands and styles popping up every day, will we ever hit denim fatigue? Probably never. In fact, it feels like one of the more exciting times for the classic textile. The industry has been working towards innovative advances with denim, from comfort to greener production, while brands like Frame and Re/Done are flourishing by upcycling jeans into modern silhouettes and styles. The new labels that have launched in the past few years are offering way more than just a pair of jeans. Read on to learn about six up-and-coming brands that are changing the denim game.
After studying at Parsons and designing jewelry for Marc Jacobs, Alyssa Lesser decided to dive into the denim category with her label Alyssa Less. Drawn to print and textile since college, Lesser's signature denim pieces feature 3-D embroidery and embossing techniques, an '80s-era style that has taken the designer more than year to develop and modernize.
Every season, her experimentation expands, from metallic leather appliques to cool laser-cut motifs. "I like the idea of working with a medium that's super wearable and democratic and making it really luxe and special," says Lesser. "To approach it as a ready-to-wear or jewelry designer was really exciting because I'm able to approach it differently."
Celebrity-backed fashion labels are usually met with a bit of skepticism, but if Khloe Kardashian's first day of $1 million in sales for her denim line is any indication, then Good American truly delivers good product. The brand offers an inclusive range of jeans, sized between 0 and 24, with details that are meant to fit and flatter your curves — contour waistbands, stitching details and special fabrications. At the beginning of the year, Good American aimed to keep up with its large demand by dropping new styles, like skirts, shorts and jackets, every two weeks.
Designer Marta Goldschmied (daughter to denim guru Adriano Goldschmied) and her breakout denim label Made Gold made waves when it launched in 2014. Its signature lace-up "Betty" jeans not only made their way into a slew of Instagirls' wardrobes, but they also launched a handful of knockoffs, including an eerily similar pair from Kardashian-owned Good American. In addition to edgy denim styles, Made Gold also offers some streetwear basics, including graphic sweatshirts and long-sleeve T-shirts, as the perfect pairing.
Noor Zaka was "disillusioned with the industry" after years of working for a number of designers and at an in-house line for a major department store. "I didn't want to be part of system that creates more junk that people wear once or twice and ends up in landfills," says Zaka. She quit her job, left New York City for a quiet home in Connecticut and spent three years thinking of how she could reinvent her fashion career.
Enter Noorism, an upcycled denim line made from vintage jeans that Zaka launched in 2015 (now based in Brooklyn). Her approach is entirely deconstruction; rather than taking a pair of jeans and tailoring them to fit in a more modern way à la Re/Done, Noorism upcycles denim into nearly brand new outerwear, tops, bottoms, dresses and accessories.
When Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin were spotted wearing Allison and Jannika Rask's debut designs during New York Fashion Week in September, the sisterly duo's new gender-neutral line Rask gained worldwide attention before it had even officially launched. The first collection was a tightly edited four-piece range of denim outerwear. "We really wanted to have it very straightforward and simple in one fabrication," says Jannika. "We chose denim because it's such an American classic — and super durable and very versatile." The two self-taught designers are now exploring more styles and fabrications, like twill, jersey and fleece.
Warp + Weft
With years of experience working with denim, including the past six running DL1961, designer Sarah Ahmed wanted to create a line of jeans that would fill a hole in the market. "The whole concept behind Warp + Weft is providing people of all body shapes with amazing high-retention denim," says Ahmed.
Ahmed's best selling point for Warp + Weft, which is priced under $100 and is available for women in sizes 0 through 24 and for men in sizes 28 through 40, is, essentially, in the denim's warp and weft, or directional weaves of fabric. The jeans are made from two types of stretch fibers — one for retention and hold, as well as another that will sculpt and lift. "The only way we can do it is because we control the manufacturing from the yarn to the final garment," explains Ahmed. "To provide that high-quality product at this price point is very rare to find."