Denim vs the Activewear Industry

Denim was originally created for the working man…designed to be tough and last through years of abuse. Comfort and fit wasn’t initially a big focus. Eventually, denim shed that image and became a closet staple, as fashion-savvy men and women realized how versatile it is and the penny pinchers among us caught on to its durability. For several years now, beginning in the early 2000s, denim hit the premium market, coming in a wide range of fabric blends, washes, fits and styles, and became known as the perfect asset to the fittest derrières everywhere as well as a status symbol. However, it still seems as though denim has not lost its traditional image, as lately more and more people are ditching jeans for a more comfortable alternative: activewear and loungewear, thanks to brands like Lululemon creating a new trend of fashionable gym clothes being worn as street wear. Other popular lifestyle brands are catching on, creating stylish sweatpants, leggings and joggers, which are being snatched off the shelves at a crazy rate. The premium denim industry has long since expanded beyond the traditional jean, creating fabric blends with tencel, lycra and spandex…and many of these blends don’t even feel like denim anymore, yielding impressively comfortable jeans that move with you, can hang with you on a long, otherwise uncomfortable flight and don’t bag out over time. Some of these fabric technologies already existed long before this activewear trend, but many premium brands out there have pushed higher production of jeans that implement them as a response to it. It’s certainly an era of denim vs the activewear industry in the fashion world!

After doing so many reviews here at Denimology, and discovering so many ridiculously comfortable yet flattering denim specimens, sometimes it baffles me why, after this barrage of incredible, supersoft denim technology on the market, jeans are still seen as “uncomfortable.” Could it be because these comfortable exceptions are primarily within the premium denim industry which is too high of a price range for most? Could it be because for the average person, premium denim is more of an “insider” thing and isn’t found in most of the stores that people frequent for their jeans? I know for one thing, when I mention how many jeans I own to those who just see jeans as a basic item, I get a lot of stink eye…but then when I explain some of the amazing things I’ve seen in the industry lately, those same people suddenly seem to understand (at least a little) and are surprised by how big the industry really is, and most have never even heard that what we do here at Denimology is even a thing! Either way, I just wanted to showcase some of my favorite examples out there that should have changed the way people see denim a long, long time ago!

AG – Contour 360

Denim vs the Activewear Industry
Image: AG Jeans. AG Contour 360

AG Jeans is a huge leader in the industry, and their denim innovation is second to none. Their Contour 360 jean is constructed of Japanese denim that “unites all-way stretch, superior shape retention, and unparalleled comfort.” It’s fabric content is 11% C85, Polyester(T400), and 4% Elastane. T400® polyester is made possibly by the LYCRA® brand, which has infiltrated the denim industry in full force! This fiber provides better recovery and stretch, as well as a much softer, smoother touch than traditional yarns. AG states, “Our exclusive Contour 360 fabric defies the expectations of traditional denim, sculpting the body with all-direction stretch. This innovative material offers an unlimited range of movement and flexibility, while optimum recovery ensures a silhouette that retains impeccable form.” These jeans were introduced in the Fall of 2014. Read more about it right here at Denimology, here, and shop them here!

Diesel – Jogg Jeans

Denim vs the Activewear Industry
Image: Diesel. Diesel Jogg Jeans

Diesel is well known for its edgy, against-the-grain and innovative styles. Their Jogg Jeans were introduced as an “almost orgasmic” hybrid denim (“Jersey + Denim = Jogg Jeans”). Diesel calls these “A cutting edge crossbreed between jeans and activewear, crafted in a unique fabric that weaves together the style of denim with the versatility of jersey, it’s the original hybrid jean. You now have the freedom to move like never before.” Read more about them on a previous Denimology post! You can shop these jeans right here.

James Jeans – Twiggy Dancer

Denim vs the Activewear Industry
Image: James Jeans. The James Jeans Twiggy Dancer

I absolutely love the James Jeans Twiggy Dancer…I did a review of them not long ago! These truly feel like real leggings, and move with you without stretching out. They feature a fabric technology powered by ISKO™ (a brand with the catchphrase “the denim language), made up of 50/41.5/6/2.5% Modal/Cotton/Polyester/Spandex. These jeans use ISKO™ REFORM technology for shape retention, ISKO™ PJ Soft for comfort, and the patented ISKO™ Flex Fit for the incredible stretch, which happens to be exclusive to James Jeans! You can purchase these jeans right here and read more about them at a previous Denimology post here.

Joe’s – Sooo Soft

Denim vs the Activewear Industry
Image: Joe’s Jeans. Joe’s Jeans Sooo Soft

You gotta love Joe’s Jeans. The brand has excelled in the ultimate fit for every body type, as well as amazing denim technologies! The Sooo Soft collection boasts “incredible softness with shape retention” with an “all-over supple fabric that will change the way you feel about denim.” That’s the point of this post! These jeans are “buttery soft,” thanks to a modal fabric blend of 98% ProModal and 2% Elastane. Check out Taylor Swift sporting this pretty orange pair! I have yet to try a pair of them, but I have several pairs of Joe’s and they really are all comfortable as they are, so I can only imagine how amazing these must be.

Mavi – Jogger

Denim vs the Activewear Industry
Image: Mavi. Mavi Jogger Jeans

Now these jeans from Mavi are something else, as they represent a growing trend in denim that actually looks like sweatpants as much as they feel like them! I reviewed these recently and I wore them on the long, loungy Christmas day at my parents’ house as well on a long cross-state road trip! They haven’t stretched out and they are just so ridiculously comfortable. They feature your usual 5-pocket denim style, but some styles have a drawstring instead of a fly! The Mavi Jogger comes in several washes and is made of a fabric blend of 87.5% Cotton and 11% Polyester. They really do not feel like denim at all, and are seriously a true crossbreed between denim and sweatpants!

True Religion – The Runway Legging

Denim vs the Activewear Industry
Image: True Religion. True Religion The Runway Legging

True Religion is obviously no stranger to the denim industry due to its household name status around the world. Most see them as more of a status icon than anything, with bulky, contrasting stitching and detailing. But the brand has recently come out with their own version of a jean to rival the activewear industry, called the Runway Legging. It’s made of “lightweight performance fabric” that hugs every curve but of course, also is flattering in the sense that it gives you a long, lean physique. Like activewear or loungewear, they have a pull-on construction with no fly! Good old LYCRA plays a part again in this style, with a fabric blend of 66% cotton, 31% polyester and 3% lycra.

I’ve also reviewed many jeans that wren’t necessarily made as an answer to the activewear/loungewear industry, but they certainly should be! In my eyes, they’ve played a part in reinvented denim just as much as the styles above. They are so ridiculously soft that I still wear them on long road trips or even to work. So, honorable mentions would be, with links to my reviews: American Eagle’s Denim X Legging in the Sky High in Cold Blue Destroy and the Hi-Rise in Inky Dark, the Citizens of Humanity Avedon in Chromatic, the Mia & Moss Sabine in Grey, the Red Engine Scorcher in Moonlight, the Topshop MOTO Leigh in Bleach Stone, the Parker Smith Ava in Skylight, the Level 99 Tanya in Crawford, the Parker Smith Becky in Deep Azure, the Agave Delgada in Manhattan Stretch, and the DL1961 Grace in Moscow. Try any of the denim mentioned in this post, and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

1 COMMENT

  1. This jeans-as-leggings-as-yoga-pants is a trend I truly despise. Perhaps if the skinny styles would just go away, and return to the baggies I used to wear in the 1980s, we wouldn’t need polyester stretch jeans.

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