It’s not a surprise considering the rise of athletic wear, or “athleisure”, in mainstream style, but denim sales are down—way down. Bloomberg reports that sales have plummeted from over $7 billion to $4.8 billion in recent years. With the rise of jogger and yoga pants, Americans now have more options for pants than ever. In fact, last year athletic pants sold in about equal numbers to jeans for the first time in U.S. history, according to market researcher NPD Group.
While the declining denim sales have been happening for a while, the consumer shift towards more comfortable pants seems more prominent than ever. While the iconic denim brand Levi’s has stuck to its core product instead of adapting to consumer trends, other well-known companies such as Gap have started to heavily invest in their activewear business.
Gap’s Athleta executive Nancy Green is well aware of the athletic wear trend, telling BuzzFeed, "My generation grew up wearing jeans—jeans are just a part of our life, and it still is but this generation is growing up in yoga pants and activewear. So I think it’s just going to be bigger and bigger and bigger for the future."
But don’t count denim out just yet. Levi’s has their sights set on the future. They’re aiming to mix the classic cool of a great pair of jeans with modern fabrics, in hopes of creating a pair of pants that’s equal parts style and comfort. “The trick is to get a look like this on a very modern fabric—a fabric with a lot of stretch in it,” Bart Sights, Levi’s Sr. Director for technical innovation told Bloomberg.
Don’t worry—Levi’s won’t lose any of its American heritage. “There’s not another piece of apparel in the world—probably in the history of mankind—that has remained virtually unchanged and still provides function,” Sights said of the company’s classic denim.