Whenever fall weather reaches the tri-state area, I begin to take inventory of the jeans in my closet. I not only want to figure out what still fits — I also want to consider what’s still “in style.” After all, I’d rather not advertise my age by the types of jeans I wear — although the fashion industry has had a hand in this for the longest time (hello, “mom jeans” and “dad sneakers”). 

From the deliberations within my own wardrobe to conversations with clients, the future of skinny jeans continues to be a topic of discussion. 

This year, sales of women’s jeans in the U.S. declined by 3% through September, versus last year, and $8 out of every $10 lost came from skinny jeans, according to Circana’s Retail Tracking Service data. Sales of skinny jeans decelerated faster than the overall market, down 22%, but there are bright spots within the business: looser fits such as bootcut, wide leg and flare styles are all up double-digits so far this year. Combined, these fits account for 23% of women’s jean sales, which is nearly 8 points more than a year ago, and 13 points higher than pre-pandemic 2019.   

After years of dominating the market, skinny jeans are now being challenged as viral social media trends and the expanded accessibility of alternative fits are giving consumers more options. What do these developments mean for the future of skinny jeans? Trends within the designer and contemporary brand space tend to be good indicators of what’s to come for the leg-hugging style. 

Today, sales of larger bottom styles within the designer and contemporary brand space are growing at a faster rate than the overall jeans market. When looking at the combined sales of bootcut, wide leg, and flare fits across designer and contemporary brands, 42% of sales dollars were spent on these styles. This shift could start to accelerate faster even outside of designer and contemporary brands, especially with the help of viral trends.

While the popularity of skinny jeans has diminished over the past couple of years, this style continues to account for 30% of total women’s jean sales. Its market share indicates that even if a faster shift away from skinny happens across more brand types, they will remain an important part of the overall jeans business to a degree. 

As fashion trends flow in and out of style, I don’t plan on getting rid of my skinnies anytime soon. Instead, I’ve opted to move them towards the back of the closet, for now, and pick up a few bootcut jeans in the meantime.  

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