Your Jeans Want To Flex—Subtly—And Maybe You Should Let It

Given denim’s sheer ubiquity and wide litter of offsprings born of a long history—from humble beginnings as the workers’ uniform in the late 1800s, to welcoming its first “designer” iteration by Calvin Klein in the ’70s—making a style statement in jeans, naturally, calls for going OTT. To do so, the fashion intellectual might crack out Raf Simons’ Sterling Ruby bleach-splattered stovepipes to witness the latest Raf stalk down the runway; celebrities have been well documented in Stella McCartney’s star-print skinnies while shopping on Fairfax; and Gucciheads, well Gucciheads can be spotted a mile away—neither location nor time specific—in animal-appliquéd denim from the waistband to the hems. You get the gist. To punctuate in jeans is the style equivalent of shouting at the top of your lungs. While that is only natural when the intention is to be heard (and seen), subtly seems more the colour of choice in 2019.

Perhaps it’s something in the air—like hybrid flu, technical fashion’s functional, nondescript aesthetic has mated with showy, top-tier luxury—so potent, it’s inexorable. Maybe it’s a hangover from Vetements’ unassuming cut-and-sew jeans, a singular garment that mutated into a sweeping trend in 2016, and is being inducted into the ranks of eternal wardrobe classics as we speak. Its ever so slightly uneven hems and two-tone wash like morse code for, “oh yeah, you get it.” A low-key flex, where designer logos, overt graphics and embellishments take the back seat, while modest details rise as defining factors.

From left: GmbH, Y/Project and 1017 Alyx 9SM (Spring/Summer 2019)

This strain seems to be infectious. Berlin label GmbH is fast cultivating an instantly recognisable signature with a simple double zip design, first seen in F/W ’17 and reissued every season since. Glenn Martens, Y/Project’s mad genius, has made his case with multiple waistbands on a single pair, to artfully saggy waistlines (a weird flex, but okay). Utility-focused label 1017 Alyx 9SM lets an industrial buckle and really, really long straps speak for its jeans, while over at Mugler, numerous decorative hemlines spiral down denim pant legs like an ironically nondescript tornado of details—lifting white jeans out of its summer girl and Pitti peacock stereotype.

Mugler, Spring/Summer 2019

So if you’re looking to flex your denim in 2019, we’ve got just the thing: the season’s best picks that’ve been pinched, nipped and tucked in all the right places, rounded up for your shopping pleasure.

From left: Y/Project cut-out waistband jeans, US$308; Juun.J double waist jeans, US$276; GmbH organic Cyrus jeans, US$295; Mugler super bleached jeans, US$797
From left: E.L.V. Denim straight-leg jeans, US$399; Raey boyfriend jeans, US$152; Aries double-waistband jeans, US$169; Jean Atelier foldover jeans, US$445

Click on the captions to shop.