When it comes to denim, the fashion industry only began to rethink outside of the crayon box, so to speak, in the autumn of 2020. Brands dreamed beyond indigo and traditional baby blue washes, and integrated unconventional and colorful jeans into their inventory. Chanel, for one, sent a model down its Spring/Summer 2021 runway in bubble gum pink mom jeans. The look has even been Lisa Says Gah-ified, too, with the cult-favorite brand offering denim in summer-inspired fruity prints and multicolored, psychedelic swirls. And as maximalism continues to prevail — quite fervently, too — and inspire the fashion set to stray from the status quo, the colorful jeans trend will undeniably be ubiquitous throughout 2022 as well.
“At this moment in time, we are seeking to make a maximal statement, after the muted, suppressed, and minimal lives we have been forced to live in over the past two years,” posits Jesse Kamm, founder of her eponymous brand that’s beloved by nonchalant fashion girls, in an interview with TZR. Kat Rose, a London-based artist whose kaleidoscopic denim boasts an endorsement from Dua Lipa, concurs. “People [are] looking for more accessible, fun, and comfortable ways to incorporate color into their wardrobes — and jeans are the perfect way to do that,” says Rose.
Like Kamm and Rose, the artists behind Serapis Maritime, a sea-themed collective of art and fashion, adopt a maximalist lens when analyzing the popularity of vibrant denim. The creatives, however, take the analysis one step further by categorizing the colorful jeans trend as dopamine dressing, a subset of the bold fashion phenomenon that manifests via mood-boosting clothing. “People are more eager to express their uniqueness and bold personality through more special colors and prints. [And colorful jeans] help one stay cheered up, show some energy, and keep things interesting,” the Serapis artists share with TZR over email.
It’s worth noting that the trend of colorful jeans casts a wide umbrella, meaning extreme vibrancy or eccentricity is not required. Color can take shape, or shade in this circumstance, as any nontraditional blue hue, such as chocolate-colored denim bottoms or a creamy beige pair, for those partial to simplistic shades. You can also take inspiration from nature and choose jeans that resemble the muted look of a sunrise at dawn or a lush forest.
Ahead, you’ll discover the many faces of the trend, including outfit ideas to take note of and a sampling of colorful jeans you’ll want to add to your cart, stat.
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Found In Nature
“The colors I gravitate toward are all a part of the natural world,” says Kamm. “[And] I find my color concepts in the oddest of places; I am often found studying the moss on the side of a rock face, the underside of a mushroom, a dry creek bed, the sky after a fire, or a slice of ripe pineapple,” she describes. As for the designer’s advice on styling natural-hued jeans, she says to lean into a monochromatic look and pair with tonal separates.
“Denim is a great medium to publicly communicate a narrative in prints,” offer the creatives of Serapis. In other words, a boldly patterned pair is an opportunity to tell a vivid story that’s unique to your personal style, all without uttering a word. Try a technicolor pair in a swirling print for an abstract, painterly effect or bottoms done in a photographic pattern that shares a concise and artistic vision.
Yes, colorful jeans are a match made in heaven for maximalists, but the trend works for those who favor demure fashion, too. If a bright magenta pair or one printed with multicolored tie-dye doesn’t speak to you, consider nude jeans. Denim offered in a natural, skin tone shade is minimal yet equally as unexpected as one done in an eye-popping, vibrant color.
Remix the concept of good ol’ blue jeans by trying a pair that offers an unconventional presentation of the color. Why not opt for a patchwork pair that features varying swatches of blue hues, starting with cerulean and ending with navy, for a kitschy take on the classic item? Or, consider a pair that stays true to the colorful essence of the staple but integrates other shades via a print — like Akris’ blue and white denim trouser, which depicts an oceanic pattern of a crashing wave.
If you’re a fan of kitsch and like your clothing to have an individualistic look, try a craftcore-inspired pair of jeans. Denim with a DIY effect has a wholesome, earnest spirit that’s uniquely fabulous, as you can “feel the power and thrill that went into it,” describes Rose.
As for styling a crafty pair, the best approach is to lean into a playful spirit. Rose recommends teaming colorful and crafty jeans with “a funny/cute baby tee (think: Y2K-era Britney Spears or Megan Fox in her stepson’s tee), Nike Rifts, or any type of sneaker, some cute rings, and a necklace.” For added accouterments, Rose invites you to consider “a bag (one of my own or the Praying God’s Favourite one), a hair bobble/scrunchie to hand, a packet of crisps, and a lot of chutzpah!”
Like the sartorial equivalent of a sweet tooth, sometimes you covet a saccharine color scheme. So, the next time the craving strikes, try a pair of jeans in a pastel palette. These powdery colors — including, but not limited to, lavender, blush pink, subtle lime, and sunny yellow — are subtle and evoke the sweetness of a confectionary creation.