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Denim & Supply

After a brief hiatus—thanks to rising cotton costs and a leggings craze—designers agree: Denim is back. And although colorful denim gives the look a new twist, old blue reigns king with a crop of easy-to-wear washes and statement-making textures. by Angela Velasquez Ink Spot Sparkly tops with dark blue denim is the go-to holiday uniform […]

After a brief hiatus—thanks to rising cotton costs and a leggings craze—designers agree: Denim is back. And although colorful denim gives the look a new twist, old blue reigns king with a crop of easy-to-wear washes and statement-making textures. by Angela Velasquez

Ink Spot
Sparkly tops with dark blue denim is the go-to holiday uniform for women and juniors, so it should come as no surprise that dark skinny jeans are a must-have for girls this season. “We have a Night Out dark blue and a denim legging with a fully-functional zipper brought down from our juniors’ line that have been getting a great reaction from girls’ buyers,” says Kate Pagliaro, account executive and Levi’s brand coordinator at Haddad. “Dark-finished, inky blue indigo denim is key for fall,” agrees Sandra Finkelstein, vice president of design for Parigi Group. “Even the manufacturer’s medium wash is still pretty dark,” she adds.

Also taking its cues from the adult world, La Miniatura is introducing its first straight leg pant for boys in raw, untreated dark denim. “We’re keeping the denim really basic,” says La Miniatura Chief Operating Officer, Stacey Barneveld. “That’s what we’re hearing from the adult buyers—that dark and straight retails well for men.”

Color Forms
While demand for dark denim overwhelmingly beats out light washes, designers report a buzz over color denim. “We are offering some tried-and-true rinses with a twist of new color injection,” reports !It Jeans kids’ sales manager Janet Pace, naming deep purples, tobacco, jades and rich shades of pink as primary hues. Diane Kuczer, design director of Tractor, says, “Color is still strong, just more muted and richer than some of the brights we saw for spring.” The brand is keying into blue denim with green and gray tints, as well as sunflower yellow and paprika orange—earthy shades that Parigi’s boys’ lines are also tapping into. Diesel is taking a muted approach to color with its sprayed denim treatment in green indigo, gray blue, cloudy black, navy and bone brown.

Jean Genie
Like a classic white tee, bling and embroidery go hand in hand with jeans and with this season’s abundance of solid dark denim. “Clean washes call for embellishment,” says Finkelstein of Parigi. The licensor’s DKNY Girl line includes a cut-off short that has what Finkelstein describes as “a Moroccan-global vibe” with embroidery on the front and touches of mixed media on the back pockets. Along with ruffles and bows on back pockets, Vee Lapnarongchai, creative director of Mali Kids, is adding quilted stitching around the knee for a biker look. Diesel is in stitches, too, with embroidered logos on some styles. “We’re using stitching for a bit of pop,” says Pagliaro about Levi’s. The brand takes a more classic approach to stitching details in the girls’ collection, pairing heavy white stitching on dark denim and introducing a shadow stitch that has navy thread beneath white thread for added dimension. Along those same lines, Levi’s is incorporating subtle hints of sparkle to denim with pink crystals on button tabs and a smattering of tiny gems along back pockets.

Rock On
Call it the Guitar Hero effect—designers see a demand for more skinny black jeans with a rock vibe. In the last couple of seasons, Levi’s skinny 511 in black has been one of the best-selling silhouettes for boys in the 8 to 20 size range, and Pagliaro projects it to be No. 1 again for Fall ’12. A bit of stretch in the fabrication helps keep its sharp rocker edge wash after wash, she says, noting that the trend is trickling down to smaller boys 4 to 7, where in the past traditional blue jeans ruled.

Pace of !It Jeans reports the brand’s skinny roll up is gaining traction as an alternative to the standard narrow leg—noting the cut shows off this season’s crop of killer motorcycle boots. DKNY Girl also strikes the right chord with a pair of skinny rocker-fit pants. The style’s silver studded belt loops are a riff on rockers’ heavy studded belts.

Studs are just part of a movement towards heavy metal: A slew of silver-tinted jeans are poised to hit the market. Brands like Notify, DKNY Girl and La Miniatura are dishing out silvery gray and charcoal bottoms.

Work & Play
With denim being a central part of the Americana work-wear trend that has permeated the market during the last couple of seasons, manufacturers are plotting more distressed designs. Relaxed washes with a vintage look are key to Wes and Willy’s fall line for boys. Bill Mullen, the brand’s owner and head designer, says the look is still classic with narrow fits, but scuffed up a bit with some tears.

“Distressed denim is what Diesel is known for,” says Maddie Lazo, director of sales for Diesel Kids. In addition to the spray colored denim, the brand manually whiskered and abraised denim and added more tricks to its 3D evolution wash with a resin treatment and stone wash.

Blue Print
Not only enhancing their treatments, more brands are also honing their printing techniques. Tractor is working in check, houndstooth and leopard prints on tonal navy blue denim. !It Jeans is expanding color options for its leopard print skinny and sizing down the eye-catching style to the 4 to 6x crowd. “We’re offering the print in purple and feel it will translate down to the younger girl with ease, where darker colors would not,” Pace explains.

Pre-Fab
Lapnarongchai of Mali Kids says the key to kids’ denim is to make the fabric as soft and easy-to-wear as possible. Levi’s is answering the demand for softer fabrications with a new sateen-finished jegging in jewel tone shades of plum and teal. Look for a cotton/spandex jegging with a lush suede hand by Tractor. For a bolder fashion statement, the company is adding a coated denim pant made to look like leather and is expanding its range of color mini rail cords.

Barneveld of La Miniatura says skinny corduroy pants are one way retailers can break up a wall of blue. The brand’s simple five-pocket skinny corduroy pants flew out of Barney’s last season, merchandising well with the line’s skinny jeans and denim jackets. For this season, La Miniatura is adding burnt orange, grasshopper green, oxblood and cobalt. Appaman is betting on cords in bright colors, too, for boys and girls.

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