Though the denim trade has spent years investing in applied sciences to make denims stretchy and cozy, when the pandemic struck in March 2020 and drove hundreds of thousands to regulate to working from dwelling, denims have been among the many first gadgets they ditched in favor of pajama bottoms, sweatpants and yoga-ready fare.

The renewed demand for consolation, nonetheless, bodes properly for denim’s athleisure-influenced cousin: the jegging. New arrivals of jeggings have been up 13 % in 2020 from the prior yr they usually remained persistently increased all year long, based on Edited knowledge.

“Jeggings’ comfort factor buoyed their steady performance throughout the pandemic, with February, March and June the peak time for sell outs,” stated Kayla Marci, market analyst for the retail market intelligence platform.

The highest spike was famous in October 2020, following a brand new drop of American Eagle Outfitters Ne(x)t Level providing, which flung the forgotten model onto the radars of Gen Z customers, thanks partly to the teenager specialty retailer’s consideration to modern particulars like ripped knees, excessive waists and jogger hybrids.

Despite this, jeggings’ success was “torpedoed” by sweatpants, Marci stated, which offered out of 329 % extra types in 2020. Traditional leggings fared higher as properly, up 185 % in promote outs for the yr. But if trend historical past repeats itself—and the denim sector, of all the style classes, is aware of all too properly that it does—this unmatched demand for consolation could solely be the start of a jeggings revival.

The rise and fall of jeggings

According to Merriam-Webster, the primary recognized use of “jegging” got here in 2009. The phrase was added to the lexicographical chief six years later in 2015, outlined as “a legging that is designed to resemble a tight-fitting pair of denim jeans and is made of a stretchable fabric, usually plural,” alongside different millennial colloquy resembling “meme” and “emoji.”

Indeed, stretchy pull-on bottoms have lengthy been a mass-market class in girls’s put on underneath the guise of leggings. Inspired by dancewear, leggings entered the fray within the Nineteen Sixties and have since cemented their place in each ensuing dance or health craze, from the svelte silhouettes of the ’70s disco period to the aerobics fad that outlined the ’80s. Leggings petered out within the ’90s when grunge and hip-hop ushered in looser silhouettes, however the subsequent rise of low-rises and thin stretch denims at first of the brand new century swung customers’ preferences again to the form-fitting trend.

In reality, by the 2010s the unprecedented recognition of thin denims, that are usually made out of 9-10 oz. woven stretch denim, was one in every of a number of elements that led customers to warmly embrace their knitted counterpart.

Today, the time period ‘jegging’ has nearly turn out to be a catch-all for a high-stretch super-skinny silhouette, based on Michelle Branch, founding father of the denim consultancy Markt & Twigs, however the primary distinction between a jegging and a jean initially was the development.

The first jeggings in the marketplace had fake pockets and a non-functional fly that mimicked the look and match of a thin jean, she stated. They merely substituted knitted materials for precise denim material made with trade’s trademark woven cotton and indigo dye.

The garment’s jeans-centric makeover, nonetheless, might need been born extra out of necessity than within the title of trend. Christine Rucci, founding father of Godmother NYC Inc., a design and product improvement firm, says the garment’s manufacturing peaked following Pakistan cotton shortages nearly a decade in the past.

“American growers could not keep up with the demand and China price gouged,” she stated. “So the denim industry created a trend by showing lightweight and knitted denims out of supply and demand.”

The market was actually open to the thought of stretchy knit bottoms. Yoga pants—denims’ stretchy artificial spandex nemesis—had advanced from their roots as gym-specific garb to a standing image of fitness-minded younger urbanites, and people who at the very least needed to look energetic. Yoga pants changed denims because the de facto backside for operating errands, brunching with mates and strolling the canine.

“Jeggings were born to grab market share from the activewear market,” Rucci stated.

In survival mode, denims manufacturers constructed up buzz for jeggings because the sharper-looking various to yoga pants by wielding athleisure phrases like “all-day comfort” and “freedom of movement,” coupled with imagery of ladies working towards yoga and ballet dressed within the garment—a glance, in hindsight, that fortunately did not translate to the studio.

“Jeggings were never really jeans. You need pockets and some sort of fastening for that,” Branch stated. “But the prospect of achieving a garment that’s both super skinny and comfortable was a watershed moment for the industry. And that confirmation created space for the proliferation of the skinny jean we know today—the impact of which we still feel today.”

Whether jeggings’ ascension in trend was the serendipitous results of agricultural quandaries or a strategic transfer to stay related with an athleisure-crazed market, its star energy started to fade as millennials started to step away from super-skinny silhouettes and embrace normcore types like high-rise denims and vintage-inspired Levi’s 501 matches as an alternative.

Jeggings’ lapse wasn’t a disappoint to most denim heads, nonetheless. “There were segments of the market in which the term ‘jegging’ was mocked from its inception,” Branch stated. Though the garment generated gross sales throughout a low level for the class, jeggings lacked authenticity, heritage and sturdiness—the defining qualities that arguably constructed the worldwide denim trade into the $69 billion behemoth it’s as we speak.

“I have never been a fan of the jegging,” Rucci stated. “You are either a denim brand or an activewear brand. You can make comfortable jeans, but that does not mean jeggings. You can’t be both.”

In reality, Rucci believes jeggings have introduced extra hurt than good to the denims trade, notably when fast-fashion retailers started to churn out variations made with low-quality spandex. Most jeggings, she stated, disintegrate since they’re worn and laundered extra usually than really sturdy denim. Their future? The landfill.

“Stretch is a privilege, not an obligation,” Rucci stated.

The way forward for jeggings

A results of normalizing ultra-lightweight stretch materials, denims manufacturers now must work more durable to advertise the advantages of sturdy, non-stretch heavyweight cotton materials. It’s a product profile that will attraction to heritage and workwear lovers, however the majority of customers spending extra time than ever at dwelling continues to prioritize consolation.

As customers start to take a look at life after the pandemic and select clothes that can bridge their dwelling {and professional} lives, might jeggings take pleasure in a rebirth not not like what the once-mocked Mom jean has loved in recent times?

Perhaps, however the language round jeggings is due for an improve. Instead of likening jeggings to exercise gear, Marci stated retailers are highlighting excessive rises and super-stretch properties inside new jegging arrivals.

“I think jeggings now live in a separate but parallel lane with super soft, high-performing stretch jeans,” Branch stated, including that there are various methods now for denims manufacturers to realize consolation via true denim constructions. “There’s really no need for resurrecting a buzzword,” she stated.

Indeed, manufacturers and retailers are ditching the time period ‘jegging’ all collectively. NYDJ touts pull-on denims with purposeful again pockets, made with Coolmax expertise and its patented Lift Tuck expertise that flattens the entrance and lifts the posterior. Liverpool Jeans gives a pull-on legging made with mushy stretch denim. The model additionally gives a hybrid model known as the Gia Glider that has a pull-on waistband and fake zip-fly, in addition to all-important denims particulars like rivets and 5 purposeful pockets.

Meanwhile, a brand new seamless model by AG Jeans offers the smooth and clean look of jeggings, however with all of the hallmarks of a real jean. “AG’s Seamless is simply an authentic update to a timeless body that we all love,” stated John Rossell, AG’s head of inventive and advertising and marketing. “It’s not over the top, but it’s significant in that it’s more flattering, it fits better, it moves better, and you feel sexier wearing it.”

The narrative across the idea of jeggings can be altering to higher replicate modern views on inclusivity and sustainability. “With the hype around comfort showing no signs of slowing, jeggings’ ultra-stretch qualities are being reimagined into denim with the concept of jeans that adapt to body changes,” Marci stated.

NYDJ lately debuted SpanSpring, a line of thin denims that stretch to suit three sizes. In 2020, premium denim model Frame launched Le One, a jean that is available in two sizes—one for sizes 23-28, and one for sizes 29-34. Fellow L.A. model Good American additionally entered this house with Always Fits Jeans, a line of 5-pocket denims that provides 100% stretchability, that means they will accommodate a spread of three to 4 sizes with out sacrificing match. Size classes embody 00-4, 6-12, 14-18, 20-26 and 28-32.

“With the emphasis on sustainability within the fashion industry, rethinking sizes and offering better-engineered and adaptable garments can prolong shelf life, avoiding consumers throwing them away when they no longer fit,” Marci stated.

This article seems in Rivet’s report “Blueprint: Today’s State of the Industry” sponsored by Coterie Digital and Project Digital. Click right here to obtain the entire report.