While we obsess over Madewell for its plethora of affordable styles — these days, it's a crucial destination for seasonal dresses, outerwear, shoes, and accessories — the one category that the retailer has had a consistent chokehold on is denim. Those in the know may be familiar with Madewell's collection of "Perfect Vintage" jeans, a mostly rigid denim line made to fit like an American classic but at not-so-steep vintage-seller prices. Cut in a variety of washes, silhouettes, lengths, and sizes, it's no shocker that these jeans remain a best-seller for the brand. (Full disclosure: I, too, am a true believer of these jeans, as a person who swears by vintage denim.)
But, did you also know that Madewell, in addition to its Perfect Vintage wares, regularly releases fresh batches of denim every season? Well, now you do: Some styles are standbys, some are brand-new, and some are updated iterations of the tried-and-true blues. And for spring 2023, Madewell has dropped a whole lot of denim newness, poised to become new go-to staples for the upcoming year.
"For the new collection, we were inspired by the style trends of the '90s," says Mary Pierson, SVP of Denim Design at Madewell, in an email to R29. "Specifically, we love the distorted fits, interesting denim details, and fun denim dressing from that decade." Case in point: Madewell has gone all-in on what the brand calls its "boyjeans" — denim featuring a relaxed waist, roomy leg, and a low rise. There are variations for shoppers who seek a more fitted style as well, like wide-leg or flared jeans that have a bell-shaped bottom hem but with a more rigid, contour fit at the thigh.
Denim, of course, is not a one-type-fits-all deal — and Madewell knows this. The shoppers have spoken, and they are particular. For example, some shoppers only wear rigid denim (like yours truly). Some exclusively wear jeans with stretch. Petite folks are limited to shorter inseams whereas tall shoppers need rises that actually come up high on their torsos. Whatever denim preferences a shopper has, Madewell aims to offer a pair that suits them as perfectly as possible. One way Madewell achieves this is with The Denim Bar, which breaks down and categorizes all of its jeans so shoppers can easily click and filter exactly what they're looking for.
Pierson says this release focuses on a wide array of denim textures in addition to newer cuts and silhouettes. Shoppers can expect heavier and lighter-weight constructions, as well as a range of stretch.
For spring 2023, the brand has also introduced non-pant denim pieces, like a varsity-style jacket and a dress, both of which embody that easy-going, '90s-era spirit. Pierson says the Denim Bomber Jacket and the Oversized Denim Shirtdress are two of the brand's more "unexpected styles" that still keep the aesthetic true to Madewell. "We’re excited about the variety in proportion play within this collection," says Pierson, nodding to the cocoon-like shape of the bomber and the straightforward boxiness of the dress.
Since Pierson is not only a denim expert but also someone who has helped develop this current spring drop, I had to ask her what pair of jeans she personally swears by. Unsurprisingly, she says that her "all-time favorite is the straight-leg jean; it's just a timeless silhouette. I especially love our Perfect Vintage Wide-Leg Jean!" (As I'd mentioned earlier, it's a real fan favorite and a cult classic for Madewell.)
There's a newer style that Pierson predicts may rise to the top of the denim pile for the upcoming season — and this time it's all about the legroom: wider, more relaxed, and extremely slouchy. Are denim shoppers ready to head into the fashion wayback machine? Madewell is certainly predicting they do so.
"My favorite jean from this current collection is the Superwide-Leg," says Pierson. "I love the volume, length, and rigid denim fabric. It’s a newer fit and leg shape for us." While the Superwide-Leg styles have an unescapable skater boyfriend vibe, Madewell has figured out a way to keep these jeans, like the rest of the denim lineup: super versatile and styled for any occasion. Paired with a crop top or a body suit, and with a heeled shoe, these baggy jeans can make an evening look so very chill. Or, of course, the jeans can be worn with an equally baggy top or jacket and clogs for a rolled-out-of-bed moment. Madewell's latest denim collection may be a nod to the '90s but, to be sure, they're made for these modern times.
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