Outland’s cofounder and comms Director Erica Bartle tackles the TikTok generation debate: skinny v mom jeans.
The whole concept of stewing over skinny vs relaxed jeans seems perplexing to me, but TikTok made it a “thing”, so here we are with a dive in - you can thank us later for doing the heavy lifting.
As the folklore goes, Gen Z (born 1997-2015) has gone to war on TikTok over Millennials’* penchant for severe side parts and skinny jeans. While not technically a Millennial (by a year, people!), as an Outlander, I clearly have a vested interest in this denim debate.
It was circa 2005 when the supermodel Kate Moss made skinny jeans cool ( https://www.outlanddenim.com.au/blogs/news/a-short-history-of-the-skinny-jean ). I remember because I was editing a magazine shopping supplement.
With literally billions of skinny jeans circulating in the world since Moss made them popular (my rough estimate is about 48 billion pairs… a truly monstrous amount), it makes zero sense from a sustainability perspective to suddenly bid them farewell to the landfill or charity bin.
Fashion’s infuriating propensity to make styles obsolete with the flick of a switch (or TikTok viral video) is what helped us to get to this whole climate change tipping point, after all.*** But it’s not for sustainability reasons alone that you should stick by your faithful skinny jeans.
Fashion punters have been estimating the demise of the skinny since the wearing of active wear and her fancy sister athleisure became publicly permissible outside an actual gym or dance studio.
Not only are skinny jeans akin to activewear in comfort (if you get into the right pair - we recommend the Isabel or Harriet, of course), but you won’t be mistaken for someone who is “planning to do exercise later” when you wear them. So skinnies are a more truthful garment. And we know people who wear Outland care about things like that.
Then there is that other constant; the indescribable *spark* of confidence and familiarity that comes from wearing the right pair of jeans for you. Not because they’re on trend. But because they fit just right on the waist even without a belt. They complement your natural shape and go perfectly with your favourite tee; they’re just short enough to wear with sneakers, but long enough to wear with heels. You feel a pang of disappointment when you realise they’re in the wash, and they’re the first thing you frantically reach for when you thought that appointment was for 8:30am but it’s actually 8. The thought that you might have to replace them one day is the stuff of nightmares.
In short, a good pair of jeans is all about the feeling you get when you're wearing them. Why would you ditch them? Your skinnies are the sartorial equivalent of a hug. And who doesn’t like hugs?
Personally, I have transitioned between Outland skinny jeans and the more on-trend slim-fit Lucy cut since 2017. The Lucy is a kind of gateway jean to the more relaxed and rigid styles that Gen Z is wearing now (the Abigail girlfriend jean, wide-leg Amy and low-slung Athina in Outland speak). And now that the Lucy is in “bloom” (literally), she’s making me blush with the compliments.
So, I propose a truce.
You do you regardless of when you were brought into this world! Sport your relaxed cuts like a TikTok influencer, rebel with your retro-fit skinnies or dabble with something slim-fit in between. By all means dress to impress, so long as the person you’re trying to impress is looking back at you in the mirror (clue: it’s YOU!). The single most important rule for jeans is to wear what makes you feel and look your best.
*FYI Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1981 and 1994/6. They are currently between 25 and 40 years old. (Wikipedia)
***The fashion industry makes a sizeable contribution to climate change. McKinsey research shows that the sector was responsible for some 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in 2018, about 4 percent of the global total.