If ’70s fashion is synonymous with DVF wrap dresses and Halston jumpsuits, the ’80s with neon-n-lace Material Girls, and the ’90s with baby-doll dresses and flea market flannels, what about the ’00s? With the start of a new decade, we can’t help but look back to what defined the last one. And while the high-fashion T-shirt, predatory platforms for day, and resurgence of bold gold jewelry were pivotal, there was no greater fashion invention than premium denim. Maybe ever. The premium jeans phenomenon was so major that most of us can remember the exact moment we tried our first.
“My first pair was 7 For All Mankind boot-cut jeans back in 2000,” says Alana, Shopbop’s denim buyer. “I remember going to visit my girlfriend at college and was wearing them out to the hot nightclub that everyone went to on Saturday night. I remember my girlfriend saying, ‘You can’t wear jeans! Everyone wears black pants.’ I didn’t bring any black pants with me and insisted to my girlfriend and her sorority sisters that 7 For All Mankind jeans were the new black pants.”
My fellow writer, Maureen, had a similar denim epiphany. “My first were the 7 For All Mankind classic boot cut in 2001,” she says. “I remember wriggling into them in the dressing room at Barneys, studying my reflection from every angle, amazed. They combined the nonchalant quality of vintage denim with a flattering fit that transformed my forgettable backside into something noteworthy. It was nothing short of miraculous. Other styles have followed since (J Brand skinny jeans and Current/Elliott legging jeans are two current favorites), but that first pair of Sevens imparted a life-changing lesson: if you don’t feel amazing in your jeans, move on to another pair. It’s not you, it’s them.”
As for me, after moshing through the ’90s in (cringe) Gap jeans, I stumbled upon a little boutique called Bop in the new millennium. I remember feeling like I had died and gone to premium denim heaven when I walked into a space that seemed to have designer jeans from here to eternity. A blonde angel, er manager, named Kristin guided me through a myriad of fits (You mean I can actually buy different rises? This was revolutionary!), until I finally settled on the Citizens of Humanity Hutton High Rise Jeans. The dark rinse was so chic, my butt never looked so good, and the denim itself was incredibly luxe. I was so elated, I think I did an involuntary touchdown-style dance in front of the three-way mirror.
But the best thing about the premium denim trend is that it was never really a trend. The sublimely soft fabrications, expertly placed pockets, artful distressing, and made-just-for-you fit that blew us away is here to stay. And though we’ll always turn to those brands that started it all—True Religion, Paige Denim, AG Adriano Goldschmied —we’ve found new crushes in Siwy, Prps, and William Rast, to name a few.