An iconic staple of fashion, Denim Jeans is expected to feel the heat of the coming virus-led recession and will grow in the post-crisis period to reach a projected global market size of US$87. 3 billion by 2027. What was seen hitherto as the looming recession is now imminent with the world already showing signs of being in a worst of its kind recession. Global GDP is expected to dip into the red at -3% with the US economy shrinking by a shocking -5. 9%.
Unemployment rates have hit never-before highs with the US topping the charts with 12. 5% unemployed as a % of total labor force. Social outlook against this background remains grim with households expected witness erosion in wealth. Personal financial outlook, community, economy, job security confidence, purchasing & investment confidence are all tumbling as the human & economic cost of the global pandemic rises. For the fashion industry, this brings grim news of falling sales and revenues as consumers hold back on discretionary spending.
In an unprecedented turn of events, the world has been cornered with limited available options. Governments worldwide have been forced to choke off the economy via harsh social distancing measures. Players in the apparel industry will need to brace for impact as a dark and stormy economic climate creeps over the world. Per capita consumption of jeans which remains as high as 8 to 10 pairs in countries like the United States, is expected stagnate and even decline during this crisis. Denim jeans is mostly a discretionary spend which will soften as the world readies for a ride downhill.
From the humble workpants of cowboys and miners in the old Wild West, denim over the last century has emerged into a global fashion and the world’s best loved clothing. Jeans are one of the most ubiquitous pieces of clothing on this planet with millions of pairs being sold worldwide. Few of the reasons why denim is popular all over the world transcending cultural boundaries is the legendary longevity of denim as a fabric. Developed as a rough clothing to be worn by working men during the early 1600s, denim is today an on-the-go fashion popularized by Levi Strauss & Co in the 18th century. Jeans has a unique style and appearance unparalleled and unmatched by any other type of apparel. Affordable prices, comfort, fabric that becomes softer as it ages, robust stich patterns and use of rivets on rear pockets and near the zipper for greater garment durability, are all factors which have popularized denim jeans.
In the post COVID-19 period, the market’s key fundamental growth drivers will re-emerge such as expanding urban population, changing perceptions about executive wear, convergence of business and leisure (Bleisure), flexible tastes of new-age entrepreneurs and the resulting acceptance of jeans as business casual attire for men even in boardrooms, rise of power jeans in high ranking business and political circles, robust outlook for luxury denim business, growing base of women in the workforce, rising environmental stewardship among consumers and the ensuing demand for natural and organic denims. The market will benefit from innovations ranging from distressed, acid washed, stone washed, embroidered, metal studded, high-rise, low-rise, mid-rise, skinny and bell bottomed jeans coupled with developments in material design and style such as digitally printed jeans, vegan fabrics, sophisticated weaves, superior stretch performance and novel fiber blends. Ripped jeans that stormed into the spotlight in the 1980s during the hard rock/heavy metal era in the 1990s and 2000s continues to remain widely popular even today. Westernization of dress and clothing and rising visibility of fast-fashion brands like Zara and H&M will open up markets which traditionally resisted the jeans culture and will bring in new opportunities for growth. Asia-Pacific isa major market led by China which ranks as the world’s largest cotton grower and a leading denim weaver. Other factors which were responsible for the region’s growth included rising standards of living, increasing disposable incomes, preference for high-end and premium designer labels among the expanding base of affluent middle class population, globalization of fashion trends, changing cultural norms and breakdown of cultural imperialism all which lay the foundation for the acceptance of jeans.