I really won’t shut up about corduroy. I’m pretty sure that the frequency with which I mention it is on par with “Hi!” and “What should I have for lunch?” I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a fabric in my entire life. A fabric! I feel like Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder (who seemed to wax poetic about muslin for chapters upon chapters, according to my rock-solid childhood memory).
My obsession began last August when I discovered The Cords & Co, a Swedish brand that designs exclusively in corduroy. In addition to corduroy jackets, dresses, skirts, baseball caps and even shorts, the collection includes a bounty of different pant options cut in silhouettes ranging from high-waist and loose to low-rise and skinny.
The range of styles made me think about corduroy in a new, multifaceted light. Up until then, I associated it with the awkwardly cut, stiff corduroy trousers and knee-length skirts my mom purchased for me in varying shades of “earth” before I went away to boarding school the summer before ninth grade — a logical parental response to the school’s strict anti-denim policy, no doubt, but I wasn’t a fan. I looked like Corduroy the bear for all four years, and not in a good way.
Cords & Co’s designs effectively combined an old-school fabric with current trends. Instead of aggressively curved bellbottoms reminiscent of corduroy pants of yore from the ’70s, they offered kick-flares and boot-cut styles. Instead of the stiff, straight shapes I wore in high school, they offered silhouettes more in line with the flattering, cult-favorite Levi’s 501s.
Coincidentally or not, it wasn’t long before I started noticing corduroy cropping up all over the place. Isabel Marant produced a pair of corduroy pants in delicious colors like salmon pink and seafoam green; the latter sold out immediately, much to the chagrin of my maniacal internet sleuthing. Zara made a pair of PERFECT butter-yellow slouchy trousers that also sold out before I could get my hands on them (sensing a pattern here?). Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection and Sonia Rykiel’s Resort 2018 collection spoiled my eyeballs with a duo of micro-floral corduroy suits I would happily wear every day for the rest of my days, and in retrospect, so did Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2017 collection. I eventually got my hands on a bubblegum-colored version courtesy of the NDUO x Desert Mannequin collaboration, and it’s been quite the love affair.
My theory about the origins of this undeniable corduroy explosion arose out of a previous theory I have previously expressed on this very website:
Theory 1: We are currently experiencing a period of denim deadlock in which the turnover of new jean silhouettes has ground to a halt, thus rendering them somewhat uninteresting at the moment.
Theory 2: Corduroy has swooped in to fill the gap accordingly, providing that spine-tingling sense of “newness” not in silhouette, necessarily, but most certainly in fabric.
I realize people might throw digital tomatoes at me for saying this, but I’ve actually found corduroy to be more versatile than denim from an enthusiastic styling perspective in the sense that there’s no such thing as too much. Also, while denim can lean into heavy Western connotations unless kept in check, corduroy is a true chameleon, easily assuming shapes beyond the most expected (i.e., pants) without proclaiming any particular style persona all that adamantly. Like clay, it is yours for the imprinting.
To prove my point, I styled four atypical corduroy looks for your inspirational pleasure. Flip through the slideshow and let me know what you think.
Also: What should I have for lunch?
Photos by Edith Young. Styled by Harling Ross. Modeled by Nadia of Wilhelmina Models.