“I want everyone to know, the skinny jean is dead,” announced Barbara Lubel co-owner Ruby & Jenna boutiques at a staff meeting a few weeks ago. And she’s far from the only one declaring the death of a long-lived, beloved silhouette.
Gen Z is seriously (like they “can’t even”) over the style opting instead for the return of flares, bells bottoms, wide-legs, stovepipes and the once-scorned, high-waisted “mom jean.”
So says Kate Farkouh, 14, a freshman at Manhasset High School who ditched all her skinny jeans months ago. “The new trend is to make fun of skinnies. I don’t roll my eyeballs when I see them, but I’m just like ‘uhh — yeah that’s weird.’ Last year, I wouldn’t have even noticed them.”
The return of the flare has sparked a passionate debate — and resistance — on TikTok and Instagram between generations who’ve grown comfortable in their skinnies after seeing several denim trend waves come and go, from low-rise to high-waisted.
WHAT’S ‘OUT’ IS ‘IN’ AGAIN
Farkouh says her perception on denim shifted after seeing her favorite influencers on social media break way from the straight-leg skinny. “That’s where the newest fashion trends pull through. I love Madison Beer (the singer/songwriter and Long Island native). She can pull off mom jeans and people aspire to that style.”
These days, Farkouh says, “The new style is tight or cropped shirts with high-waisted loose baggy pants.”
Top fashion folks agree.
“As a Millennial who is also a fashion editor, I have to say I’m with Gen Z here. Skinny jeans are not trendy anymore.” says Rachel Torgerson, fashion features director at Cosmopolitan. “I’m sorry! TikTok has a great way of getting the word out to the masses.”
At Penelope, a fashion forward boutique in Woodbury, variations on wider-legged jeans run the gamut from gigantic “elephant” bells, to more moderate flares and loosefitting stovepipes in a variety of washes and finishes with plenty of rips and shredding.
Here, “Skinnies are passe,” says owner Gabrielle Banschick. “They’re so basic.”
“We’ve found that bell bottoms fit a woman’s body better and actually make you look so much longer than when you wear skinny jeans.” With a tweak here and there, says Banschick, the pants can be flattering on all body types and heights.
“Very few women are six-feet tall and we shorten jeans for the majority of our customers.”
Personally, says Banschick, “I feel so much more confident and cooler in a pair of bell bottoms. Bells give you super power.”
The store offers cutting and fraying for free and hemming runs from $18-$20.
SKEPTICS HOLD ONTO SKINNIES
Despite the new shunning of skinnies, truth told, many staunchly refuse to give them up.
According to apparel analyst Maria Rugolo of the NPD Group, the market research company in Port Washington, skinny jeans still account for 35% of women’s denim sales in the U.S.
Alexandra Lipps, 23, of Roslyn, a jeans-lover (she has some 30-pairs) is reluctant to bid adieu to her skinnies. “Being on the petite side,” — she’s 5’2″ — “I always felt skinny jeans make me look a little taller and are more flattering on my body,” she says, echoing the cries of many for whom the skinny jean is cherished.
“For me,” says Lipps, “skinny jeans are a staple.”
Lubel understands the resistance. She says that for some, the skinny is a great balance to flowy, oversized shirts.
“Skinny jeans are going to be tough to get rid of. Not everybody wants to wear a tighter, crop top — that’s the reality.” But she adds, “As people’s eyes adjust to a new look, wider-on-the-bottom jeans will continue to be popular.”
And like many aspects of life these days, Lubel believes the pandemic played a role here. “We got so used to comfort and ease in our sweatpants. And while we want to move along to a little more structure, we don’t want to give up that comfort.”
A skinny jean fan falls in love
So, you love your skinny jeans are definitely not ready to give them up right? Our suggestion: Just try something new for, um, the bell of it.
This was the case with fashion influencer Alexandra Lipps, 23 of Roslyn, who, at 5’2” believes that the skinny jean is her best bet for elongating her petite frame and most flattering for her figure. We placed her in the capable hands of Gabrielle Banschick, owner of fashion forward boutique, Penelope, in Woodbury.
“I said to her just try it,” said Banschick. “What’s the worst that could happen? Step outside your comfort zone. Skinny jeans stop at the ankle, you look much longer with a wider leg and a heel.”
Initially, Lipps was a bit hesitant. “It was a style I didn’t gravitate to because I don’t love [wider legs] on me.” But here she found looks, “that made me feel comfortable, accentuated my curves and featured details such as vertical stitching.”
In the end, of trial and error, she says, her takeaway, (which included the purchase of three pairs of wider leg jeans), was, “Surprise. My perception changed and I have a new openness.” That said, her skinny jeans are going nowhere fast. “I’m firmly sticking to my skinnies. Now I just have more jean styles to choose from.”