While the demise of the skinny jean has been heralded for some time, recent data from the NPD Group now confirms that America’s penchant for the figure-hugging style is no more.
Straight-leg jeans became the best-selling fit among American women in 2021, according to the intelligence firm, toppling the skinny. Straight leg styles now account for one-third, or $3.3 billion of the sector.
The skinny was the only style to see a drop in sales in 2021 versus pre-pandemic 2019, while straight fit, flare, and boot cut denim became more popular as people sought out more comfortable styles.
While Millennials and Gen Z still account for the majority of skinny-jean wearers, it’s increasingly a silhouette worn by older shoppers. Boomers accounted for 12% of all women’s skinny jeans sold in the US in 2021, compared to less than 10% in 2019.
Denim is more comfortable and dressier now
The shift is in part due to the fact that a quarter of women are wearing a larger size than before the pandemic, NPD found, squaring with comments made last summer by the Levi’s CEO.
Although pre-pandemic, jeans fell decidedly in the casual camp, NPD Group director Maria Rugolo said they are now also viewed as dressy enough to go to the office. “Denim now has the opportunity to be on both ends of the spectrum,” Rugolo said.
As people gradually venture back into offices and to social gatherings, sales of jeans have risen. Overall revenue from women’s jeans in the US increased by 9% in 2021, compared to two years ago.