Denim Is Getting Spicy in 2023—the Details and Cuts Turning Jeans Controversial


(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Y/Project)

Trends come and go, but one thing surely remains constant: Denim never truly goes away. The silhouettes and the rises may change (suddenly, everyone is all for low-rise now), but denim is that staple that will always have a place in the fashion conversation. With elegant normcore at the forefront of fall's collections, denim is playing a huge role in reinforcing the wearability factor designers are so readily embracing.

But that's not to say there hasn't been a fair share of out-there denim trends. For one, players such as Y/Project, Blumarine, and Givenchy turned things up a notch with unexpected washes and offbeat and sometimes nostalgic details like brown-washed denim and big brass studs. The twists deviate from the über-approachable trends like loose denim and straight-leg cuts, and even if we don't consider them controversial, they're at least edgy and whimsical. Other designers and brands have joined the fray, leading us to think that a spicier approach to denim will be the status quo for the seasons ahead. For a full report on the controversial denim trends buzzing about now, keep scrolling below.

Brief Show


(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/MM6 Margiela)

In line with the underwear-as-pants runway movement, exposed briefs are heating up as a trend to watch. This has less to do with the denim itself, but this styling has made appearances across the fashion board, popping up at Stella McCartney, Margiela, and Etro. Grab a pair of low-rise jeans and elevated briefs (with a noticeable logo preferably), and let the waist peak out a bit for a double-layered effect. Chances are you already have the ingredients to pull this off, so it's a cool trend that doesn't necessarily involve buying more.

Shop designer briefs:

Cargo Jorts


(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Givenchy)

The next iteration of cargo pants is here—they're denim cargo shorts. The first clue this denim trend truly had legs was when Zara released its very own version of Givenchy's cutoff cargo jorts from its S/S 23 collection. Zara's shorts quickly sold out (we even bought pairs of them), but it didn't take long for other retailers to follow suit. For a trend that's pretty divisive, a lot of people are surprisingly on board.

Shop cargo jorts:

Patinaed Denim


(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Blumarine)

A throwback from the era of Lizzie McGuire and Kitson, brown-washed denim (or patinaed denim as we like to call it) is making a comeback like the gaggle of Y2K trends that have lived new lives in 2023. Not surprisingly, Blumarine was all over this particular faded wash, showcasing it heavily in its S/S 23 collection. There are varying degrees of how much of a patinaed look you can go for. Some denim pieces feature light tints of brown, while others look like a pair of jeans caught in a mudslide. It won't be a wash as universally loved as medium blue, but it's worth trying if you're looking for a fresh and cool approach to denim this season.

Shop the wash:

Deep Deconstruction 


(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Victoria Beckham)

Designers famously love to cut up things and reimagine them (we're looking at you, Chitose Abe), so when deconstructed denim started popping up in droves, it felt like a logical next step. Denim pieces that look inside out or sewn together improperly is what the theme is here. The great advantage of this type of statement denim is that you don't need equally strong pieces to coordinate with it. They make for easy outfits that carry maximum impact.

Shop deconstructed pieces:

Head to Toe


(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight/Y/Project)

Head-to-toe denim ensembles launched onto the scene last season, and the dramatic take is still gaining steam into spring. We've reached the apex of non-clothing denim pieces, including shoes, handbags, jewelry, and more, and designers are coming up with new ways to make denim dressing a lifestyle. 

Shop denim accessories:

Next up: Dua Lipa Wears Everything First: A Look at Her Coolest Outfits

Fashion Market Editor

Indya Brown is a fashion editor, stylist, and writer living in Los Angeles. While going to school at Columbia University in New York City, she got her feet wet in the fashion industry interning at Elle magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and New York magazine's The Cut. After graduating in 2016, she joined The Cut as a fashion assistant, eventually working her way up to fashion editor. There, she worked on a multitude of projects, including styling inbook feature stories for New York magazine's print issue, writing and pitching market stories for The Cut, and serving as fashion lead for The Cut's branded content. While New York has been her home for over 10 years, she moved to Los Angeles in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 for a new chapter. Now she is a fashion market editor for Who What Wear, focusing on emerging designers, rising trends on and off the internet, interior design, and BIPOC creatives and brands. Aside from her duties as a fashion market editor, Brown is also a freelance stylist and writer, working on national print and video commercial campaigns for Sephora, The Independent, and Cadillac. Her bylines also include Harper's Bazaar, Vox, and The New York Times. But once the computer goes down and the emails turn off, she's likely eating her way through Koreatown, hunting down vintage furniture, scoping out new outrageous nail designs to try, or taking a hot cycling class.