The Divisive '90s Denim Trend That's Everywhere This Spring

In the ’90s, at the height of fashion’s grunge era, ripped jeans rose to popularity, often leading my parents (and probably yours) to ask me, "Why would you pay more for denim that was meant to look old and destroyed?” But that didn’t stop me from buying and wearing them on repeat. In recent years, I have completely avoided any distressed denim styles with holes or frayed hems, favoring more tailored styles instead. I honestly never thought I would go back to ripped denim, but I recently ordered a new pair inspired by what I’ve been seeing on celebrities and the street style scene. That’s right, everyone—’90s-inspired ripped denim is officially back.

Earlier this year, celebrity stylist Allison Bornstein told me that ripped denim would be huge for spring, and she couldn’t be more right. "Ripped jeans are perfect for the spring, and I’m not talking distressed—I mean big ’90s rips,” Bornstrein said. "They add a little casual and unexpected edge to a look and have an inherent sexiness to them.” Spring hasn’t even arrived yet, but I’m already seeing Bornstein’s prediction coming true. Ahead, see how celebs and the style set are wearing ripped denim and shop pieces inspired by their looks.


(Image credit: Backgrid)

On Katie Holmes: Khaite Brianne Shirt ($349) and High-Waisted Distressed Jeans ($420); Stuart Weitzman Apogee Booties; Chloé Milo Bag

Katie Holmes has been putting a number of cool trends on the map, including ripped denim. Here, she offsets the ruggedness of her jeans with a romantic puff-sleeve top and sleek ankle boots. The perfect way to pull off the jean style, IMO.

Shop the look:


(Image credit: Getty Images)

On Gigi Hadid: Re/Done High Rise Loose Jeans ($250); Schutz Analeah Boots ($295); Dmy By Dmy Olsen Sunglasses; Lizzie Fortunato Gala Wristlet

Gigi Hadid is another celeb who is endorsing jeans with big ’90s rips. Paired with a tailored blazer and sleek knee-high boots, her outfit is the perfect example of how to make distressed jeans still look polished.

Shop the look:


(Image credit: Getty Images)

At New York fashion week, MyTheresa’s Buying Director Tiffany Hsu wore a pair of wide-leg jeans with holes cut into sides. Styled with a leather button-down, puffed-up bomber, and quilted shoes, she nailed the ultimate street style look.

Shop the look:


(Image credit: @romilux)

When it comes to ripped jeans, you simply can’t go wrong by pairing them with a blazer. Slip a denim button-down underneath for an unexpected way to style them.

Shop the look:

Next, discover the color trend that will be everywhere this spring.

Associate Director, Special Projects

Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear with over a decade of experience in fashion, editorial, and publishing. She oversees luxury content and wedding features, and covers fashion within the luxury market, runway reporting, shopping features, trends, and interviews with leading industry experts. She also contributes to podcast recordings, social media, and branded content initiatives. Kristen has worked with brands including Prada, Chanel, MyTheresa, and Luisa Via Roma, and rising designers such as Refine and Tove, and her style has been featured in publications including, Vogue France, WWD, and the CFDA. Before Who What Wear, Kristen began her career at Rodarte, where she worked on assistant styling, photo shoots, and runway shows, and at Allure, where she moved into print and digital editorial. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied art history and business, and currently lives in New York.