From skinny to baggy: How pandemic comfort revolutionized denim fashion

As skinny jeans fade in the fashion scene, new styles like Kareena Kapoor Khan’s wide-leg denim pants and Salman Khan’s anime-themed pair of white jeans are the go-to look this season.
Kareena Kapoor Khan
Kareena Kapoor Khan

BENGALURU : While the skin-fit jeans of the past decade were considered a style statement, jeans in particular were never tagged as comfort wear. But with people in a pandemic-ridden world looking for comfort in every corner of their confined homes, denim could not have been left far behind. “During Covid, baggy pants came into existence because they were more comfortable and relaxed. Gen Z especially started opting for the baggier silhouette, also known as utility jeans or sweatpant jeans,” says Bengaluru-based fashion stylist and designer Meghana M.

The appeal of baggy denim lies in its combination of comfort and versatility. Unlike skinny jeans, baggy jeans provide freedom of movement, making them ideal for various activities and occasions. Recently, actors like Jennifer Lopez and Kareena Kapoor Khan were spotted in denim that look and feel more like sweatpants. Meghana explains that the utilitarian aspect, with features like oversized pockets, adds a practical edge that resonates with today’s youth. “It can be styled in various ways – with a lot of oversized T-shirts, crop tops, sweatshirts, with a pair of shoes probably, and a nice motorbike jacket and a cap,” says Murali, who believes that the trend is here to stay for at least another decade or so with many brands innovating in the space like Kamal Haasan’s KH House of Khaddar creating their unique weave of denim and khadi.

Model Karan Lakhanpal donning an outfit with black denims
Model Karan Lakhanpal donning an outfit with black denims

The baggier the better

Not only Gen Zs but personal stylist Jaya Kumari finds that millennials have also opted for comfortable silhouettes, discarding skin fits. “When it comes to Gen Z, they are going for ultra-wide fits but millennials are going for wide fits only. Earlier when people were into skinny fit, jeans were not really seen as a piece you can wear for comfort but now with the baggier fits becoming more popular, people are wearing them even when they are going for a walk with their dogs,” shares Kumari.

Men, for whom denim is considered a staple, have also seen a drastic shift in styling when it comes to denim. While the classic vibe remains timeless, the flavour of the season exudes spunk and streetwear with actors like Salman Khan sporting edgy anime-themed pants on the opening of Heeramandi. Meghana adds, “In men’s streetwear, a lot of additional elements have been introduced like embellishments and studs as well as stickers of K-dramas and anime shows. If one needs a more feminine touch, then rhinestones can be embellished on it or some surface ornamentation like embroidery.”

KH House of Khaddar’s unique denim collection
KH House of Khaddar’s unique denim collection

Even different washes other than blue are gaining popularity. Karan Lakhanpal, a fashion model and influencer, observes, “I have jeans in grey, black and blue colours. People have started wearing baggier fits, and I have also been following this trend. People have moved away from skinny jeans, especially in menswear, there are a lot of styling videos on social media where they show the contrast between them wearing skinny jeans in 2023 and now how the same outfit looks with baggy jeans.”

When it comes to styling these fits, Meghana says, “If we are going for a casual look, we can go with pants with a lot of pockets and a loose fit. But at the same time, if I’m looking for street wear – probably it might be a little more funky, with a lot of chains. If at all I want to wear it for a party, the same baggy trousers with a nice fitted crop top and block heels will work. For me, if I am going to a party, I will reduce the bagginess of my trousers a little for a sleeker look.”

Lakhanpal further adds, “In formal situations, opt for relaxed fit jeans with a good fitted blazer and white shirt.”

For those who want to style oversized tees with baggy denim fits, Kumari advises, “If we are talking about wider jeans, then it’s best to stick with slim fit or regular fit on the top so it balances the outfit. But you can also wear a baggy t-shirt with baggy jeans if you add some more edge to it like with a belt, tucking it a little bit on the side of the waist while the rest remains free. That way you can have some sharpness to the outfit and balance it out.”

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The New Indian Express