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Is denim fading into fashion obscurity?

Sales of jeans are down by 6% in the US as clothing choices move toward active and casual.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 14, 2014 5:59PM

Rack of blue denim jeans © Joanna Pecha/Getty ImagesBy Krystal Steinmetz, Money Talks News


Denim is singing the blues.

Sales of the American-born fashion staple have plummeted, according to NBC News. The NPD Group, a market research company, told NBC that domestic jean sales declined by 6 percent last year.

"A 6 percent drop may not seem like much, but it's rare for denim to take such a dramatic drop. It's a commodity business, we buy it and replenish it all the time," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group.

Jeans have been an American uniform for decades. But Americans' love affair with jeans isn't what it used to be. Women prefer "athleisure" clothing these days, a comfort-based casual clothing that includes yoga pants, leggings and jeggings. NBC said:

"There isn't an 'it' item for back-to-school like we had two years ago," said Dana Telsey, CEO and chief research officer at Telsey Advisory Group. "What there are, there are certainly dusters and dresses, there's these crop tops that seem to be working and anything with the athletic bent. Athletic and activewear are certainly the new everyday wear and that's happening no matter what age people are."

VF Corp., the maker of Lee and Wrangler jeans, has taken a hit in jean sales, primarily among women. Its Lee brand declined about 15 percent in the U.S., NBC said. But it's not alone.

Fortune said:

VF's jeans problem echoes that of Levi Strauss, which last week blamed its quarterly revenue drop in the Americas on "lower sales of women's products at wholesale." Guess Jeans similarly reported its North American wholesale revenues fell 10 percent in the quarter ended May 3.

Will jeans continue to fade away? According to NBC:

"Fashion denim is cyclical. Currently, mid- and high-waist denim styles are trending, in addition to soft pants. Denim is still a dominant category for us at Gap and Old Navy, and we are committed to continuous innovation," said (Gap Inc.) spokeswoman Edie Kissko.

Sure, leggings and yoga pants are comfortable, and I own several pairs, but I won't be getting rid of my jeans anytime soon. Fashion trends seem to come and go (and then come back again, like acid-washed pants and fluorescent T-shirts), so I don't think jeans are going to be singing the blues for long.

More from Money Talks News

Aug 15, 2014 1:19PM

Made in Third World countries, low quality, but yet prices keep going up.


Fifty bucks for Made in Mexico Levis is outrageous.


Aug 15, 2014 6:37AM
The quality of the jeans which I worked in all my life has vanished.  The imported junk is poorly made.  My latest imported jeans have pockets so thin that they rip the first few times worn.  For me they always have been work clothes and had  to be durable.
Aug 15, 2014 1:56PM
I bought a pair of Levis in 1989. Wore then all the time. Worked construction and auto repair in them.  They just recently got a rip in them. Not a hole a rip. Other than that they looked great. I bought some last year and they are already trash. Maybe that's why they aren't selling.
Aug 15, 2014 1:20PM
I have a pair of levis that are 20+ years old.  a couple of years ago, I bought a pair and its already falling apart
Aug 15, 2014 2:20PM
Men's jeans are now designed to be tight in the legs and crotch and saggy in the rear, all to appeal to a certain segment of teen-aged males. For the rest of us, these jeans are extremely uncomfortable to wear as it feels like your pants are falling down in the back (which they are). Poor fit and ridiculous prices mean lower sales. 
Aug 15, 2014 2:06PM
Perhaps it has something to do with the exorbitant prices to wear a label that has no more quality in the denim than a much less expensive pair!  Quality has been replaced with get it done for cheap and charge a fortune!
Aug 15, 2014 12:07AM
MAybe everyone has a problem with third world children making their clothes?
Aug 15, 2014 2:14PM
cheaply made and poor quality along with high price.  The pockets do not hold up very well very thin.  I guess the manufactures thought they could just keep raising the price and lower quality and we would just keep on buying.!!! 
Aug 15, 2014 2:05PM

It's not just the third world dumping crap products in the U.S.  It's these dirt bag welfare recipients who now prance around in public wearing pajama bottoms like they were actual outerwear. Aside from looking ridiculous they're impractical in anything but balmy weather.  Why anyone would want to look like a low class loser or an escaped mental patient is beyond me.

Good old fashioned American made blue jeans will never go out of fashion.

Aug 15, 2014 1:21PM
Jeans are like cold beers and fresh air. A MUST have. 
Aug 15, 2014 2:19PM
11 months, that's how long it took a brand new pair of Levis 501s to disintegrate. I put them in the washer one day, a brand new machine that has never destroyed anything else, and when they came out they had holes in three different places. Why would I continue to buy something that falls apart in less than a year?

Aug 15, 2014 2:59PM
The problem isn't the style - it's the fact that they're made so damned poorly in foreign countries and they're just too expensive. If I'm going to pay $45 for a pair of jeans, they should last a couple of years, not several months. The crap that these companies are putting out now is very poor quality.
Aug 15, 2014 2:51PM
Ever since the jean companies have taken to producing their jeans outside of the United States, the quality of the jeans has  plummeted and the measurements have become moving targets ----- in spite of one's weight and measurements remaining the same. Sticking to a particular jean style produced by well-known name brands doesn't help. I've watched in dismay as well-known styles produced by certain jean companies have somehow changed in measurements and quality. The same jean companies then proceed to ignore customer complaints posted online. Perhaps now that sales have gone down, the jean companies will listen.
Aug 15, 2014 2:29PM
"Make it in America." And blue jeans will live as long as they make motorcycles.
Aug 15, 2014 1:30PM
Krystal , dear , I live in jeans . My father likes jeans . He likes the kind that are so stiff , you have break them in first , me too . As a mechanic , ,I've been known to just throw on a new pair , and get blue legs , for it ! Men like pants , they can change a tire in . Today's man may not , anymore .
If your a woodsman , or outdoorsman  of any kind , you like the protection of thick denim . But , you wouldn't know that , Krystal . denim is , and always will be sought after , by men , and women both .  
Aug 15, 2014 2:29PM
Athletic and active wear shouldn't be worn by those who are not athletic and active.
Aug 15, 2014 2:09PM
I agree with the comments regarding poorly made crap and I'm sure the fact that the "quality" designer jeans which cost $200/pair and up, doesn't help either,especially in this economy and not when I can get a pair of leggings, jeggings, or yoga pants for $20!
Aug 15, 2014 2:33PM
Denim was always the working man's staple. Today you can buy a new pair of denim Carpenters and the crotch will rip in a year or less as pockets begin to rip away at corners. This is because thinner and lighter gauge denim is being used and sold at premium prices averaging around 29.00. Next there is the huge size discrepancy between these third world manufacturers where your size can very as much as an inch in the waist and still be labeled the same. Quality matters to most people and when it's learned that the stuff is not worth the price, well? Finally as fewer people are actually working that means fewer sales too.
Aug 15, 2014 2:32PM
I stand by Neil Diamonds song , "Forever In Blue Jeans" ; the only thing I really find comfortable , always have .
Aug 15, 2014 2:40PM
 The way jeans are made now with low mid drift and no real pockets for women's jeans. I would rather go to the goodwill or thrift store to get jeans that are better constructed and my butt and tummy don't hang out. They do not fall apart after a few washes. I want the old lee jeans of the 70/80/90's
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