Reinventing Denim

Denim. Aside from jeans, anything made in this hard wearing fabric was pretty much the definition of passé until very recently. At the spring/summer 2015 shows, designers delved head-first into redefining the fabric, keen to reposition it as on point and stylish, rather than simply something hardy enough to hold together through years of toil.

From light to dark washes, trim to oversize fits, 1990s distressed to sophisticated selvedge, denim isn’t just a byword for jeans this season – read on for a full breakdown of the trend and the key pieces you should be looking to introduce to your wardrobe this SS15.

The Denim Jacket, Re-Imagined

Invented in the early 20th century and developing into a casual wardrobe staple just a few decades later, the denim jacket is well and truly back for spring/summer 2015 – not that it ever really went away, if we’re honest.

Yet there’s something altogether smarter about the denim jacket this season, with designers like Christopher Bailey at British luxury label Burberry Prorsum plucking the age-old classic from its humble origins and repositioning it as a more sophisticated piece.

Bailey used trim, lightweight denim jackets as a substitute to button-down shirts – layering blazers, statement scarves and an even a denim trench coat over them:

Prada

In Milan, Miuccia Prada’s fairly sober collection of time-honoured classics came over all denim – despite the fact that a lot of was not.

It was Prada’s topstitch detailing, applied to outerwear and trousers, which gave both denim and non-denim jackets that immediately discernible denim appearance.

The result was a collection that – although not entirely made out of denim – felt like a line-up of sharp and sophisticated denim pieces:

E. Tautz

Also eager to elevate the denim jacket was tailoring aficionado Patrick Grant, whose British seaside-inspired collection was awash with selvedge denim jackets in silhouettes that ranged from blousons and blazers to something that resembled a field coat.

Cut slightly oversized in a deep indigo colour and featuring contrast white stitching, these were jackets that could easily be combined with a button-down shirt, lightweight jumper and well-cut chinos for a tailored look with a twist:

Andrea Pompilio

Channelling something similar but more subversive was Andrea Pompilio’s ‘homage to punk’: a sportswear meets tailoring collection interspersed with denim, including a look that saw a denim jacket worn over a luxe sweatshirt, which was in turn layered over a denim shirt.

Proving denim needn’t always be rugged, Pompilio’s layering gave a century-old fabric an entirely new lease of life:

Saint Laurent

Taking the denim jacket ever so slightly further back to its roots (the 1970s, to be precise) was Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent.

Titled ‘Psych Rock’s New Rising’, Slimane’s spring/summer 2015 offering was chock-full of references to the 20th century’s most psychedelic decade, with denim cut-offs used as key layering pieces and blue denim jackets teamed with half-open shirts, ultra-skinny jeans and Chelsea boots:

Modern Lookbook Inspiration

From now through to the start of summer, your trusty denim jacket will make an excellent layering piece. However, think about how you can utilise it in slightly unconventional ways (under a blazer or mac, for example), rather than as a traditional top layer.

Likewise, consider alternatives to the classic trucker jacket this season – denim bombers, varsity jackets, blazers, overshirts and gilets are all available on the current market, and will help bring a contemporary workwear twist to any of your looks:

mango man AW13 mango man AW14 brunello cucinelli ss15 mango man aw13 allsaints ss13 j crew ss11 Toast SS15 Burton SS15 Scotch & Soda Amsterdams Blauw denim ss14 drykorn ss15 Reiss SS15 J.Crew ss15

Current Styles
  • Allsaints Ivor Denim Jacket
  • Allsaints Hisa Denim Jacket
  • Asos Denim Jacket In Skinny Fit
  • Levis The Trucker Denim Jacket In Blue
  • Paul Smith Jeans Denim Jacket
  • He By Mango Ink Color Denim Jacket
  • Lee Denim Jacket Bright Blue Worker
  • Levis Varsity Jacket In Navy
  • Topman Ltd Blue Denim Harrington Jacket
  • Topman Ltd Laurel Canyon Blue Denim Over Shirt
  • Officine Generale Slim-fit Selvedge Denim Suit Jacket
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Blue Striped Washed-denim Blazer
The Denim Shirt

While chambray shirts have worked their way into many of our wardrobes over the past few years, 1990s-esque styles have been about the furthest thing from fashionable. Until now, that is.

Tom Ford – he of seductively luxurious suiting and evening wear – suggested denim as the new fabric for formal engagements. OK, it’s not exactly wedding-appropriate, but Ford made a convincing case – showing a suede jacket layered over a faded denim shirt, which was tucked into a pair of washed straight-leg jeans and accented with a patterned, neatly positioned neck scarf.

Not quite a suit, but we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t elegant in its own right:

Fendi

Though often not actually using the material itself, Silvia Venturini’s spring/summer 2015 collection for Fendi was in parts a homage to denim, including a zip-adorned, biker-esque jacket that looked like it was crafted from denim, but was in fact made from bonded leather.

Still, the sturdy workwear fabric did make a few unmistakable appearances, not least in the form of a bleached denim shirt layered underneath a taupe leather jacket:

Kenzo

Parisian brand Kenzo was particularly enamoured with denim this season.

Co-creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon showed a collection predominantly made up of pastels, punctuated by full-on denim looks: a belted denim coat layered over a button-down shirt with a pair of slim jeans, or a faded double-breasted denim jacket buttoned-up over a white button-down shirt, and worn with a pair of matching faded denim jeans.

There was also an oversized smock shirt in denim that – when teamed with zip-detail trousers, a buttoned-up shirt and luxury trainers – was just the right side of art teacher chic:

Lookbook Inspiration

Although the denim shirt makes a solid wardrobe addition year-round, look to get even more wear out of yours this spring/summer 2015 by dressing it both up, with a knitted tie and blazer, and down, worn open over a tee with a pair of chino shorts:

kip aw14 mango man spring 2013 j crew ss14 kip aw14 lbm 1911 ss15 windsor aw14 club monaco ss14 reiss ss15 allsaints ss13 asos ss14 j crew fall 2013 office shoes christmas 2014

Current Styles
  • Indigo & Maine Denim Shirt In Grey
  • Wrangler Chambray Denim Shirt In Indigo
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Light Denim Shirt
  • Topman Bright Blue Denim Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Allsaints Choko Western Denim Shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Denim Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Levis Made & Crafted Denim Shirt
  • Reiss Royce Washed Denim Shirt Indigo
  • Acne Studios Isherwood Button-down Collar Washed-denim Shirt
The A-Z Of Jeans

It seems jeans are the new trousers. While chinos, linen legwear and sports luxe sweatpants may have been the go-to styles in recent seasons, spring/summer 2015 sees denim dominate in looks from smart to casual.

At Tom Ford, formal suit trousers just didn’t make the cut – in their place were slim jeans in blue, indigo and black, teamed with white shirts (collars open), loosely tied neck scarves and opulent suit jackets:

Kris Van Assche

Kris Van Assche went a step further at Dior Homme, not just teaming jeans with smarter separates, but jeans that were decidedly 1990s due to their distressed appearance and plain, straight cut.

If that all sounds a little too ‘dad’ territory for you, there were similar styles printed with text that looked like artful graffiti, which were considerably more contemporary:

Gucci

Similarly, Frida Giannini’s penultimate collection for Gucci included jeans that were lightly spattered with paint – the perfect point of contrast in a collection that was otherwise made up of nautical-inspired tailored and casual separates:

Lookbook Inspiration

zara 2015 scotch & soda AMSTERDAMS BLAUW FALL 2014 digel ss15 zara 2015 zara 2015 gucci resort ss15 club monaco ss14 burton ss14 pull & bear october 2014 River Island AW14 scotch & soda aw13 amsterdams blauw bally ss15

Current Styles
  • Allsaints Keiko Cigarette Jeans
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Premium Dark Steve Jeans
  • Levis 511 Slim Fit Jeans In Tam Heights
  • Asos Skinny Jeans In Mid Wash With Rips
  • Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren Slim Jeans With Repair And Patchwork
  • Levis 501 Ct Tapered Jeans In Shoreditch
  • Uniqlo Men Regular Fit Straight Jeans Selvedge
  • He By Mango Loose-fit Medium Wash John Jeans
  • Nudie Jeans Thin Finn Slim-fit Washed-denim Jeans
  • Saint Laurent Slim-fit 15.5cm Hem Ripped Denim Jeans
  • Levis Vintage Clothing 1954 501 Spare-wash Denim Jeans
  • Simon Miller M002 Park View Regular-fit Washed Selvedge Denim Jeans
Final Word

While traditional tailoring and luxe leisurewear are two dominant forces in menswear currently, designers are gradually making room for fabrics that don’t sit firmly on the suiting or sportswear end of the spectrum.

Tough as nails and extremely versatile (as some of these more eye-catching looks have proved), it’s little wonder that, this season, menswear’s tastemakers are redefining denim.