How This Early-Aughts Denim Brand Is Keeping Up With Athleisure's Rise

Photo: Courtest of B(air) Denim.
While denim is never truly going anywhere, we are, indeed, living in the age of athleisure. There are more options than ever in the activewear space (whether we wear them while being active or not), and even OG denim brands like Levi's are feeling threatened. Plus, there's a timelier, seasonal issue with your beloved blues: They just don't jive with the stickiest, nearly 90-degree temps of summer. A new line of jeans aims to appeal to both those who'd rather wear leggings on the reg and consumers who consider denim impractical in super-hot weather. Behold, B(air) Denim, a new collection from 7 For All Mankind, the coveted 2000s premium denim brand that prompted many of us to coax our parents (successfully or not) into shelling out three figures for jeans.

The line has been in the works for over a year, and is comprised of a special, 8.5-ounce denim that feels like a much lighter, 6.5-ounce jean, according to Peggi Jewell, VP of design and merchandising at 7 For All Mankind. The company even worked with a new mill to create "magically weightless and un-confining" denim, Jewell said, and the feel is meant to be "light as air and soft as silk," as B(air)'s slogan goes. The goal was to create "a pair [of jeans] that we didn't want to rip off at the end of the day, and that complemented and smoothed our bodies without feeling like we were being sucked into yet another tight pair of jeans," she explained.

Working with a brand-new fabric, especially one "with interesting fibers," as Jewell describes B(air)'s pairs, makes the fit process much more challenging. (The fabric's flexibility factor comes from a polyester, Lyoc, and Spandex blend.) As for other brands that have rolled out ultra-lightweight takes on denim: "Some feel spongy and not like denim at all," Jewell said of the competition. And then, there are those pesky shape-retention issues. "There's nothing worse than leaving your house feeling great, and then catching your reflection and seeing that your jeans are baggy and you look a little sloppy you should look the same at the end of the day as when you left the house." B(air) went through ample garment-wear and fabric tests to avoid the saggy-butt effect.
Photo: Courtesy of B(air) Denim.
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Don't confuse these super-stretchy blues with jeggings, however. "Many jeggings are so stretchy, you can't get the great character that comes from real denim," Jewell said, noting the difficulties of putting whiskers or abrasions onto a jegging-type material. Another point of distinction: the variety of cuts that can be constructed from B(air)'s signature fabric. "Often, jeggings are so compact and stretchy that you could only do a tight, legging fit, [which is] where the term jegging came from," Jewell said. "The fabric in B(air) is very versatile; yes, my favorite is still a skinny, but it also looks great in non-skinny fits."

B(air) certainly seems like a way for 7 For All Mankind to stay relevant to the leggings-loving masses. "One of the biggest influences [athleisure] has had on consumers is that they now do not want to give up on comfort," Jewell said. Greater expectations comfort-wise have perhaps made it harder for denim brands to compete. "Let's face it, I don't think that there will be legions of women lining up to wear their sweatpants out to dinner, but they now expect us to deliver on unbelievable comfort without missing a beat on how fashionable they look."
Photo: Courtesy of B(air) Denim.
These jeans aren't technically intended for heavy sweat seshes, though. "We didn't want to compromise on aesthetic, either these are jeans, not sweatpants," Jewell said. "We didn't have workouts in mind when creating B(air); I'm not sure that I would wear them to a Pilates class, but to each his or her own!"

The collection officially launches in stores on July 12, but an early release of the line is actually shoppable online now. As for the price points, they're pretty much in line with 7's offerings in general, ranging from $169 to $189; styles include skinny, bootcut, straight-leg, and a wider trouser silhouette. While B(air) isn't meant to make your workout garb obsolete, summertime options that'll make covered-up gams feel less tortuous sound very promising right about now.
Photo: Courtesy of B(air) Denim.
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