Dust Off Your Dark Denim: The Noughties Are Back

Artwork by Anna Jay.
Dust off your dark denim, folks, because this season brings the revival of our trustiest fabric in shades, shapes and stitching straight from the noughties. Designers ushered in SS18’s denim redux with an assembly of indigo washes, exposed stitching and sharp cuts, signalling the end of grungy jackets and jeans, and the beginning of smart, tailored, utilitarian pieces.
Denim, while a constant in our wardrobes, is subject to the ebb and flow of industry trends, which work their way down from the catwalks to the high street faster for denim than for most items. For several seasons now, the cropped kick-flare jean has reigned supreme, and with good reason. Perfectly paired with an autumn ankle boot – more specifically, the foot-hugging sock boot – or a pair of Birkenstocks in summer, the style is both flattering and versatile. Its popularity rode the wave of the backlash against the skinny jean, and it came in every colour of the rainbow, from red to white to pastel hues.
Photo: David Klein/Getty Images
The ‘90s mom jean also enjoyed a renaissance in recent seasons, with everyone from Topshop to Levi’s selling a wide variety of the loose-fitting, high-waisted style. Next up, we had embellishment, with stitched embroidery, adorned pearls, and personalised patches covering our denim as part of the wider trend of ‘unique’ pieces and individuality. Along with ripped and renewed denim – courtesy of Vetements – and raw-edge hems – where Marques’Almeida led the charge – grungy finishes have been on the backs (and legs) of every street styler at the past few fashion months.
But with SS18 came a more refined slew of denim, and an aesthetic you may recognise. The noughties was a glorious decade, when pop stars fell out of clubs with little thought for PR, and an excessive tan and stripy highlights were the epitome of beauty. But it was also an era where sartorial lines were most definitely blurred – with denim one of the biggest culprits. Red carpet style may now mean glamour and glitz but back then, it meant Britney and Justin in matching denim get-ups. It was a time when pop groups wore head-to-toe denim, and brands like Tommy Hilfiger (which celebrated its 20th anniversary back in 2005) were enjoying popularity, and so it trickled down to us mere mortals, who in turn wore denim at every occasion.
Photo: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic
Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
So how have designers reimagined noughties denim for the contemporary woman? First things first; denim’s gone dark. Indigo swept catwalks across the board, from Zadig & Voltaire, Adam Selman and Max Mara to Calvin Klein and Tibi. “Denim always appeals to designers as it has the structure to hold a shape, and is inherently cool,” Erin Fridja, founder of Bad Denim, tells Refinery29. “Dark, indigo denim is the natural way to work with the fabric, as opposed to artificially adding in patterns.” What else can we expect from this season’s offering?
As the noughties proved, denim isn’t just for jeans and jackets, it’s for every situation, from the office to the bar. Over at New York Fashion Week, Tom Ford transformed a structured blazer with sharp shoulders and extreme lapels by using denim, which was styled with a glimpse of denim bra and loose-fitting jeans. Office attire, anyone? He also gave us a summer Sunday look by way of denim palazzo pants and a city-slicking get-up with knee-length denim boots, mini skirt, handbag and cropped jacket. Mugler also offered indigo denim, this time in structured corsets and accentuated-hipped mini dresses. Nina Ricci posed a quadruple threat with a denim shirt layered under a matching sleeves jacket, atop jeans, styled with denim ballet pumps. And Fendi? Well, we now know the dress of the season will involve cut-out shoulders, frill detail and oversized pockets, much like the indigo number the brand showcased at SS18.
Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
To keep it contemporary, the trick to making this noughties denim redux right for 2018 is with sharp cuts and clever details. “Keep it clean and in classic shapes, with an exaggerated detail,” Fridja advises. “Find a jacket with extended collar points, a straight leg with flowing ruffles, or a jumpsuit with a nipped-in waist to feel modern and crisp.” A throwback to the noughties with a modern-day refresh? This is denim we can get on board with.

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