Madewell F/W 2014 campaign

If you’ve noticed countless denim guides in fall magazine issues (Marie Claire did a full August denim issue, sponsored by Guess), it’s due to the global denim slump. Denim labels and retailers have launched extensive PR campaigns to get people back in their blue jeans.

According to the NPD Group, denim sales dropped 6% in the United States last year, and 5% in Canada. What caused the denim demise? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but I bet it has something to do with the “athleisure” or “après sport” craze of the moment. We are pairing sweatpants with heels (guilty!), while our favourite pair of skinnies are collecting dust in the closet. Not to mention the fact that suburban moms (denim’s most loyal costumer to date) have traded in their jeans for yoga pants and leggings. Meantime, in the same report, NPD states that activewear apparel bottoms have seen a sales growth of nearly 14%. (One more thing to blame on Lululemon, perhaps.)

Denim has been a stable industry in fashion for decades, with young brands like Mother and Hudson giving iconic labels like Levi Strauss & Co a healthy dose of competition. But even the giants like Levi’s have already reported a significant drop in sales this year. Last spring, Levi’s organized a Wild Wild West-themed Texas media trip for top editors (FLARE‘s Tiyana Grulovic was in attendance) to help boost the brand’s magazine exposure. The denim great also launched a “Live in Levis” (#liveinlevis) social media campaign, hoping for a Burberry “Art of the Trench” type of success. Moreover, I’ve encountered countless Instagram denim campaigns, initiated by both brands and retailers. They all have one message in mind. Are you buying it?

Marie Claire Denim Issue (August 2014)

P.S. I think five years ago, I owned over a dozen pairs of jeans. I’m down to maybe seven. How many do you own, and actually wear?