I Hate Skinny Jeans, so I'm Very Into These Gen Z Denim Trends

Ah, Gen Z. The generation that's coined the term cheugy, likes to do a strange frozen-honey challenge on TikTok and reminds millennials that skinny jeans are absolutely not the style to wear right now. For clarification, I haven't worn my drainpipes for some time. I have a pair of the Topshop Jonis stashed in my wardrobe, which I will never part with (just in case), but other than that, I've always been a fan of a looser fit. In fact, during my teenage years in the late '90s and early '00s, the baggy jeans I lived in were so long they'd often suck up a whole puddle's worth of water every time it rained. What with Gen Z's propensity for Y2K trends, could these floor sweepers be back? 

Thankfully, things are a little more sophisticated than that. But there are so many kinds of jeans silhouettes and styles around that there must be a few Gen Zers prefer over others. I consulted a few brands to give me an idea of what the younger generation wanted from denim. From the team at Monki, arguably one of the most Gen Z–led brands on the high street, to the luxury denim experts at 7 for All Mankind as well as global shopping platform Lyst, I gathered intel to get the best understanding of what Gen Z is looking for when it comes to denim. 

Ultimately, I managed to identify seven distinct trends they love. Overall, though, what I will say before diving into the detail is that being at least slightly baggy is key, and all the styles below couldn't be further from the skinny-jean silhouette. But you know what? I'm into every single one of them. Keep scrolling for the seven denim trends Gen Z loves. 

1. Wide-Leg


(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

Surprise, surprise. This is at the top of the list for Gen Z. Denitsa Todorova, the store manager at the 7 for All Mankind flagship on Regent Street, tells me the brand's "wide-leg offering is very popular amongst Gen Z. When shopping in-store, they instantly gravitate towards [the] high-waisted, full-length or cropped style." Monki also reports seeing a rise in interest in looser fits in general. 

2. Indigo


(Image credit: @hodanyousuf)

While Todorova says that they used to see a high interest in bleached denim, they're now seeing Gen Z customers interested in more indigo pieces. Todorova said, "We've seen a recent shift to indigo shades, such as our best-selling Soho Dark."

3. High-Waisted


(Image credit: @champagnemani)

Perhaps my favourite is the high-waisted-jeans silhouette, mostly because I find it super comfortable. Monki says that this is one of the "most important" styles for Gen Z and that this generation "is more focused on how the jeans feel on the body and how they make them feel."

4. Low-Rise


(Image credit: @couturekulten)

While I do find it slightly horrifying that these are back, it shouldn't be a total surprise considering Y2K trends are big for the Gen Z crowd. See them on celebs such as Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber. 

5. Straight-Leg


(Image credit: @chrissyford)

If jeans were on a spectrum, straight-leg styles would be bang in the middle of super-baggy jeans and skinnies. I think these are the ultimate silhouette everyone will always be pleased to have in their wardrobes, and Gen Z agrees. Monki confirms this, saying this style is another top look and reiterating that "Gen Z has just gotten used to the comfort of a roomier fit."

6. Patterned


(Image credit: @anishakalsi)

According to Lyst, over the past six months, for the Gen Z crowd, searches for printed denim increased by 67%. And seeing as I seem to spot this look everywhere across both the high street and designers, I'm not surprised. There are many ways to opt for this trend—try checkerboard, animal print or vintage-style florals for the most 2021 way to do this look. 

7. Patchwork


(Image credit: @kellouhar)

I love patchwork denim. It's not a new style by any means but has proven pretty popular in 2021. Lyst revealed to me that this trend is up 112% over the past six months. The good news is that, like the above trends, there are plenty of places to find patchwork denim right now. 

Next up, the biggest autumn 2021 fashion trends to know.

Elinor Block