Shortly after publicly expressing the opinion (in no uncertain terms) that something feels “off” about denim these days, I identified an additional, previously undetected factor that may or may not be contributing to the problem: I realized that the way we consume fashion isn’t the only thing that changed drastically over the last five years. The way we wear jeans has, too.
Five years ago marked the heyday of normcore, wherein denim was king. The movement’s proclivity for stark minimalism meant that the most interesting thing about your outfit was probably your jeans, and they really shined as a result. (I’ve never appreciated butts more than I did in 2013).
Denim’s uncontested prowess eroded when the cool factor of dressing like you’re one of the pack was ushered out and the era of aggressively personal style was ushered in. Instead of simple white T-shirts and unassuming loafers, jeans were suddenly faced with the stiffer competition of individuality — statement tops, rhinestone necklaces, shoes that resembled exotic birds, etc. People continued to care about how their jeans looked, obviously, but not to the extent that jeans’ aesthetic potential trumped their utilitarian value in the way that normcore uniquely facilitated.
This theory was triggered by a recent obsessive investigation into Eve Denim, a Los Angeles-based jeans company that launched quietly in 2015. Billed as “a return to authentic and sentimental denim,” the brand’s jeans are cut in vintage-inspired silhouettes made with raw denim sourced from the legendary Cone Denim Mills.
Given my current station of jeans confusion, I was surprised to find my lust transmitter perking up at the sight of the following feature images on MATCHESFASHION (which lead to the aforementioned obsessive investigation):
The jeans themselves were relatively plain, which struck me as significant. I realized their heightened appeal was a construct by the whole outfit — jeans, simple white T-shirt, jean jacket. I was enamored with the simplicity of the combination. It reminded me of something Jerry Seinfeld or a suburban dad might wear and…oh. Was I looking at the potential resurgence of normcore?!
Only time will tell, but there is something worth unpacking about the fact that I, a self-professed maximalist, was so keenly compelled by this distinctly minimalist ensemble that it made me look at my erstwhile pal denim in a somewhat new light. Perhaps the cure to my jeans confusion sits in a “back to basics” approach — one in which I make jeans the hero again, at least for a spell.
I don’t know though, what do you think? Is normcore redux the answer to denim fatigue?
Photos via Eve Denim.