After talking about all the ways to wear double denim, it’s time to address the conversation around distressed denims. Are they in, are they not fashionable anymore, or are they just too statement? We find out.

In the early ‘00s, ripped jeans were a rage. When we say ‘ripped jeans’, the image that comes to mind is the lead singer of a band, wearing heavily torn jeans with a graphic tee. Very rugged. We saw them make a mild comeback in 2010, but eventually, they were replaced with coloured denims. Seven years later, distressed denim came to life in a more mature form — blended with acid wash, or faded jeans.

Samresh Das, design manager at Numero Uno, explains how denim trends change. “Denim is always in fashion. The fabric is, however, modernised every year in different ways. From incorporating patch denims, frays, or studs, the denim industry is always evolving. Trends keep coming back too. In 2018 and 2019, bellbottoms, or flared denims, were very much in. The customisation to the same was introduced by fraying the bottoms, or by fusing it with other accessories. Similarly, each year, the focus is to evolve and alter the already existing trend with elements of vogue,” Das explains. Distressed denim was in demand in 2017, when we spotted celebrities across the world sporting them in their street style looks, as well as airport looks, and the trend stuck around for almost two years before stores replaced them with more easygoing denim trends. “Ripped denims were once a rage among the younger generation. With changing times, we try to opt for things that are more comfortable to wear, and are versatile. The word ‘comfort’ in fashion was never a thing 20 years ago but in recent years, both fashion and comfort have been interrelated. Just like skinny jeans that were once an obsession for everyone, were replaced by boyfriend/mommy or dad jeans, ripped denims too, gradually started fading, with denims having an athleisure moment,” explains Das.

distressed denim

Celebrity stylist Pallak Shah recalls, “Back in 2017, every high street brand was stocked up with different distressed denims, right from full length- knee length to shorts, shirts, jackets, etc. Irrespective of gender, distressed denims, in different styles and cutouts, were an important part of one’s closet. However, I do see the trend majorly fading out, epecially after the Covid-19 scenario. I feel brands are bringing back their prime focus to their denims, and are focusing on building and playing with the colour, cut, fit, and wash of the denim.”  When did Shah notice the trend fading? “This caught my attention during my first visit to the mall after lockdown. I was sourcing for a shoot, and I could only find the basic denim styles at all the major high street brands. Zara had a pair of skinny distressed denims in blue and black, which were minimal. I think the trend reached its peak in 2018. It is also because of ecological factors and a sustainable fashion cycle; people are more cautious while investing in denims.”

When one trend is on its way out, there is always another standout trend that is ready to dominate the market. According to Das, “Jogg denims are making their way in the post Covid era. With people mostly having work from home culture and also with relaxed office dress codes — denims that are stretchable, breathable, and give utmost comfort, are high in demand. Skinny denims are going to stay off the racks for a while now, and will be replaced by vintage denims with classic straight cuts, and high-top flared denims. Infact, focus has been shifted to sustainable denims, people are becoming more eco-conscious, and are inclined toward brands and fabrics that are environment friendly.” Shah says that bootcut and tapered fits are currently trending. However, people are investing majorly in slim fit and high waist, and darker wash denim to be able to utilise it more. She also noticed that the whiteout denims are back in stores, breaking the old colour myth, and can now be worn for formal and semi-formal engagements. Celebrity stylist Isha Bhansali, who dresses a lot of Bollywood actors, weighs in. “I wouldn’t say the trend has faded out. But yes, it’s slightly gone to the back of the racks. They’ll always be a favourite of the rebel. They won’t vanish, but they’ll have moments where they are the back. Whatever are the trending styles, you’ll find a distressed version of it,” she says.

distressed denim

Bhansali says the current focus is on wise leg and retro dad jeans. According to her, the lifeline of any trend is a minimum of one year and at times, it can exceed up to two years. There’s no doubt that distressed denim had many takers, at one point in time. They were a statement in themselves, and jazzed up with additional touch of patchworks, paints, and other embellishments only made them more rebellious. It is safe to hoard at least one pair of distressed denims and a jacket in your wardrobe, to be able to add an element of ease and style to your outfits, to cash in on the comeback moments of the trend.