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Item of the week: the distressed jeans

By Rachel Douglass


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(From left) Image: KL Jeans, Na-kd, Noisy May

What it is:

A modern jean style that is repeatedly coming back into favour is that of the distressed jeans, a look that was a common occurrence among the AW23 and SS24 collections of designers both for menswear and womenswear. The look typically refers to overly worn denim – ripped, torn or damaged in a purposeful fashion. This technique is not reserved for one jean cut, and instead can be seen across a range of silhouettes, from oversized, wide-legged styles to skin tight fits, meaning that it can differ depending on the wearer’s taste.

Image: Madewell

Why you’ll want it:

The distressed jean is a staple denim style, regularly returning to the spotlight as a statement technique. Its appearance across silhouettes and cuts means that it crosses over the various fashion borders to appeal to a broad buyer group, while also appearing in styles that are both casual and dressy. With denim as a permanent fixture of both men’s and women’s wardrobes, the distressed addition brings a more on-trend edge to the material, making it relevant for specific seasons.

Image: Desigual

Where we’ve seen it:

For AW23, distressed denim was particularly favoured by young brands who count youthful, trend-led audiences among their buyer group. Each brought their own unique take on this ripped up denim trend, whether that was the layering of reused jean parts to form the silhouette, as seen at Awake Mode, or the organised restructuring of Y/Project’s jeans, pieced together using hook and eyes. EgonLab on the other hand presented distressed attire with colourful fabric peeking through the rips, shown alongside its selection of heavily stone washed jeans. Others like Rick Owens and Vaquera had a barely there approach, with jeans that exhibited so little fabric it brought to question whether they could still be considered jeans.

Image: Pieces

How to style it:

Depending on the extremity of the rips, the distressed jeans are themselves a statement item, having the ability to either elevate or define an outfit no matter what they are paired with. For casual days, add a sweater or loose-fit shirt to the bottoms and round the look out with a simple pair of sneakers to achieve maximum comfort. Elevate the outfit with minimalist accessories or swap the sneakers for heeled boots, taking the style into the evening. To bring more edge to the jeans, layer them over fishnet or patterned tights that peek out from the rips, providing depth and creating an eye-catching effect.

Image: Name It

The distressed jeans are a regularly returning wardrobe staple, often reappearing each season as an on-trend alternative to the denim piece. For the coming seasons, designers exhibited extreme versions of the technique, modernising the look for the youthful consumer.

Image: Strellson

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Item of the Week