Jeans that feel like leggings? Yes, please.
From acid washes to ultra-high rises, it's pretty safe to say that not all trends in denim work for everyone. (Like, remember those ridiculous butt jeans?) That's why we were super excited when we realized that this season (and for the past few, really), there's a trend happening that we can really get behind: jeans that feel like leggings.
True, jeggings (denim-looking leggings) and legging-cut jeans (a.k.a. "skinny" jeans) have been around forever, but this is a whole new category of fabric and cut we haven't seen before. Forget about the tight and pinchy feeling of skinny jeans! The future of denim is all about comfy, performance-focused fabrics that give you stretch and compression—just like the activewear you wear on the reg.
"As the athleisure category has grown, the consumer demands the same comfort level in the rest of her wardrobe as she is used to in her athleisure wear," explains Peter Berta, show director of Accessories Circuit and Intermezzo Collection, a fashion industry trade event that curates and showcases hundreds of the best brands. In other words, it's safe to say he knows all about denim (and pretty much every other fashion category, too.)
It makes total sense that as we've gotten more used to being comfy in our activewear, we'd start to expect that from our regular clothes, too. "This is why we are seeing a more technical approach to denim fabric itself. There is an emphasis on more stretch and lighter weight denim that moves and feels as comfortable as athleisure," he explains. Sounds good, right? Current favorites in the industry are James Jeans' super stretchy Twiggy style (above, $180; jamesjeans.us), which comes in sizes 23 to 34 as well as 12 to 26.
The brand also carries a yoga legging style, which features extra-soft fabric and no seams down the sides for a seriously comfy fit. Industry insiders also love DL1961's technical Instasculpt fabric, which is über supportive, kind of like a legging with light compression, if you will. (Related: Are Your Jeans to Blame for Your Back Pain?)
For his part, Berta definitely sees the activewear and denim industries working together now and in the future. One example? Ultracor's Fake Believe, a new denim collection dropping this fall that's engineered and designed by an activewear brand—meaning it prioritizes comfort and mobility all while having the look of a fashion forward jean. It's safe to say we'll be setting a calendar alert for the day it launches.
"I think we are going to start seeing a lot more of this—athleisure companies getting into the denim business," Berta predicts.
And if you really just want to stick to leggings, there's something for you, too. Activewear brands like W.I.T.H. (above, $82; wearittoheart.com) are making denim-look leggings that are so realistic, it's *almost* hard to tell the difference between them and real denim. Wear them with a long top and ankle boots, and most people would probably never know. In the end, it's all about wearing whatever you feel best in, and it's awesome to see that there are more options than ever.