Do you remember the time when shopping used to be easy? When you just went to the store and picked up a pair of jeans just because you liked them, that was that? These days, it’s normal to feel a little lost, not know what’s hot (do people still use that term), what’s on-trend, or the new “It jean.” Until recently, skinny jeans dominated men’s denim trends, but in 2022, that’s definitely not the case, and guys have a multitude of options when shopping for new pants.
“The fact is, we are living in the era of everything-goes jeans… Whatever you want, there’s a jeans style for that,” New York Times Fashion Director Vanessa Friedman put simply in a recent response to an inquiring reader. “On one hand, this means that every trend is available all the time. On the other, it can mean a closet full of denim and a feeling of confusion about exactly what to wear. This is generally known as option anxiety.”
So if you too are feeling overwhelmed, it’s perfectly normal because you are simply experiencing overchoice, or choice overload. The term overchoice, first introduced by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book, Future Shock, is defined as a cognitive impairment in which people have difficulty making a decision when faced with too many options. And there are a lot of choices when it comes to denim. That is nothing new.
The good news is in classic fashion style. Instead of creating an entirely new denim trend to meet the moment, we’ve stayed on a continuous loop of revisiting nostalgic eras. We are currently experiencing a resurgence of the late 1990s to the early 2000s, arguably the most prominent trend in denim, if not all of fashion.
So despite the supposed blanket call that everyone is ditching anything that doesn’t have an elasticated waist, some of us actually do miss wearing our “real” clothes, and you don’t have to look too far to see it. From influencers on your socials to regular Joes out on the street, it’s evident people are swapping out soft loungewear for denim in loose and familiar silhouettes.
We all know that jeans have changed over the decades, from being fiercely functional and worn by laborers to be all about comfort and aesthetics. From Hollywood A-listers and musicians to everyday people have go-to staple jeans in their wardrobes. So, don’t think about denim in terms of what’s on-trend; think about what you like to say through your jeans of choice and how you want to feel wearing them?
“A fuller, roomier leg has been working its way into popularity for the last few years, and it’s gaining more and more mainstream traction,” men’s style and image consultant Patrick Kenger told SPY. “Skin-tight jeans are finally phased out.”
According to the global fashion trend forecasting firm WGSN, the 1990 minimalist aesthetic is more important than ever for design inspiration, with Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Our Legacy, VTMNTS, Diesel, MGSM, Bluemarble, and Lanvin all tapping into the dominant trend. Wondering which fit reigns supreme? The humble straight jean is a star staple for men in the U.S., with an increase in demand year on year.
“A straight-leg silhouette and even more flared boot cut styles are seen in fashion. We’re also seeing much higher rise jeans that we’ve seen previously, which is a good thing for most men as it tends to make the leg appear longer [and] taller,” adds Kenger. “In my opinion, a great straight-leg pair is hard to beat. We still want to maintain a good shape and silhouette to the leg,” adds Kenger.
The ones to watch for Spring/Summer 2022, according to WGSN, are longline denim shorts, cropped straight jeans, baggy-fit jeans, oversized and boxy jean jackets, and the classic trucker jacket, all in colors including grays, army green, brown, off white, clay, and of course classic black and every shade of blue. However, we say if you want to inject more personality into your jeans, opt for a pair with a split hem like brands such as Bianca Saunders and Amiri.
Now that you know what new styles to add to your current collection, where will you find them? “It always depends on budget and what type of denim you’re looking for, but regardless, Nudie, 3Sixteen, Pure Blue Japan, AG, and 7 for All Mankind [are some of my favorite brands],” Kenger says.
If you want even more modern tips on what to look for in your next pair of stylish jeans, WGSN has more trends it sees on the horizon. Opt for recycled fabrics and washes that champion less water and chemicals. Look at mixing textures when layering, for example tailoring with leather and grainy stone or acid wash denim. Lastly, embrace loose and baggy fits by investing in comfortable stretch denim or blends that offer a smooth and soft touch.
Below, we selected some of our favorite brands and styles that meet the trends of the moment but will keep looking good for many seasons ahead.
1. Madewell Relaxed Taper Jeans
Ease into a relaxed way of living with this pair of Madewell jeans in a Claybrook wash. They’re designed to be comfortable around the hip and thigh and hit you right above your ankles, for a low-key chill 90s vibe. Also, as it’s made with cotton and elastic it will wash and wear well over time.
2. Urban Outfitters BDG Double Work Pant
Meet your new errands/brunch/weekend-ing pants that will make anything you do not feel like a chore. This UO pair is from their own BDG collection that includes elevated basic and a range of denim staples.
3. Topman Patch Relaxed Jeans
Patchworks are back and what better way to effortlessly wear this trend than by teaming it with a classic sweater and chunky sneakers. This pair is part of their responsible edit, as it’s made from 100% cotton that was sourced via a Mass-Balance supply system.
4. Brandon Williams x Hudson Collection Don Flare Jean
Stylist to the leading star athletes in the NBA, MBL, and NFL Brandon Williams has collaborated with Hudson Jeans to create a collection just for us that consists of a range of jeans, tees, button-downs, and jackets that can suit any man no matter their taste or shape. Taken from their newly dropped collection, the Don Flare is a great piece to invest in if you are afraid of buying white jeans in case you get them dirty because they come in a handy Hope wash that is surprisingly wearable.
5. ASKET Raw Denim Jean
This ASKET raw denim option is a product of the world as it’s cut and sewn in Italy and is made from 13oz of Japanese raw denim which now comes in 100% organic cotton. So if you are yet to invest in your first raw denim piece, this one is for you.
6. Citizens of Humanity Sid Straight Fit Jean
There is a reason these are a bestseller and often sell out fast and it’s because they come in a range of versatile styles and have a slightly fuller leg, that can easily be worn with casual sneakers or suede ankle boots.
7. Mott and Bow Straight Mercer Jean
Mott and Bow are known for their super comfortable and breathable jeans and their Straight Mercer which comes in a range of colors and also in a slim fit, which will have you feeling like you are not even wearing jeans at all. The Mercer is made in soft twill with the right amount of stretch thanks to the 20% elastic, which will redefine the way you look at jeans.
8. PANGAIA Hemp Straight-Leg Jeans
9. Carhartt Straight Leg Flannel Lined Jeans
The 90s are officially back in just about every way, so you know what that means; yes, it’s now entirely acceptable to take it way way way back, and nothing says nostalgia like Carhartt’s baggy flannel-lined jeans. These are made from 100% heavyweight cotton with a cotton flannel lining to help you take on whatever the day has to throw at you, from pounding the streets to chopping down trees.
10. GAP Utility Carpenter Jeans
GAP’s Utility Carpenter offers something that most jeans can’t – a comfortable familiarity that rivals any chino thanks to its cotton elastane blend. Also, it comes in the most wearable colorways including tan, cream, and navy, so you can easily dress it down with a hoody and sneakers or elevate it up with a knitted sweater and chunky boots.
11. Everlane Relaxed 4-Way Stretch Organic Jeans
The Everlane relaxed 4-way stretch jeans make long days easier and because it’s part of the brand’s Uniform collection, if you sustain any wear and tear whilst in them they will gladly replace it within 365 days of purchase (applies to US customers only).
12. Levi’s 501 Original Jeans
You can’t get any more classic than Levi’s 501 and because they come in a range of styles including the Authorized Vintage x New Balance collab, slim-taper, shrink-to-fit, ripped, circular, etc we opted for the stand fit.
13. Nudie Jeans Steady Eddie II Jeans
Nudie Jeans are a brand committed to offering sustainable wearable pieces and the Steady Eddie II in their classic ‘Far Out’ wash is one that will have you walking on cloud nine in no time.
14. 3Sixteen SL-101x Straight Leg Selvedge
Made in Okayama, Japan the 3sixteen Selvedge is one of those jeans that will live on, well past any trend sell-by date with timeless features including an easy-to-wear dark wash, lightweight in nature, and “extremely soft broken-in hand that’s perfect for the summer months”.
15. Pure Blue Japan NP-13 Jeans
PBJ’s NP-13 jeans which are exclusive to Self Edge are the type of jeans you can stride in pride as the lighter weight denim feels like you are wearing nothing at all. Pair with a fresh white tee and a leather jacket for an effortless look.
16. AG Jeans Pollock Jeans
The Pollock is the ultimate spring/summer pair of jeans that will have you daydreaming about long walks along the beach, catching ‘rays in the park, or even painting the next abstract work of art.
17. 7 For All Mankind Straight Leg Jeans
7 For All Mankind’s straight leg jeans in Bighorn is a pair you can simply slip on for most occasions thanks to its lightly textured detailing and light wash that can be paired with a pair of suede boots or sneakers.
18. Wranglers Retro Green Jeans
Even modern-day cowboys need to move with the times and these Wrangler retro jeans in a slim-fit Merrian show how life can be so much sweeter and greener when you hop on the sustainability train. Taken from Wranger’s Green Jean assortment, which aims to improve their staples by reducing their impact on nature, this bootcut pair will have you looking and feeling good.
19. DC Shoes Worker Straight Fit Jeans
When you think of DC Shoes you may think of their super rad skating and snowboarding collections but recently the brand has been evolving its core range which includes the Worker Straight Fit Jeans, which have been updated to be even more sturdy, and flexible for skateboarding and all-day use.
Also, great news as it’s now eco-friendly and part of their new RE/SOLVE sustainability program which uses materials such as certified organic cotton, and if that wasn’t enough, this particular wash has been given a Jeanolgia low impact rating because it was produced using less water, energy, and chemicals.
20. Dickies Duck Carpenter Jeans
You don’t get any more outdoorsy than Dickies and so you know you can rely on the material and quality to withstand even the most challenging of days. Also, this particular pair is made from 100% cotton duck which is a heavier and more robust version compared to standard cotton jeans.