Fashion: Creedless, classless, ageless - and cheap: Reworked in baby pink or stretched to the limits of the imagination, good old durable denim looks certain to become the designer fabric of the year. Roger Tredre reports

Denim comes of age this season. British designers are breathing new life into a classic fabric, expanding the boundaries of the possible in the best traditions of British fashion design.

So Katharine Hamnett gives a new twist to the hard-wearing cloth once considered the epitome of rugged masculinity by reworking it in baby pink. John Richmond replaces the fly buttons on his Destroy jeans with lacing and injects a strong dose of Seventies flare. And Helen Storey produces two-in-one jeans - a patchwork of denim in front stitched to leather-look stretch satin for the behind.

The best thing about this trend is that it makes designer clothes affordable. As Hamnett puts it: 'Denim is certainly the cheapest way you can do fashion - and it's great for clothes to be cheap.'

Quite so, particularly at a time when designers are under pressure to justify their very existence. 'Designer' denim is the British designers' response to a Nineties generation that treats high-priced clothing with suspicion.

The beauty of denim is its durability. Denim positively improves with age and regular washing as the fabric softens and moulds to the body. A well-made pair of jeans can comfortably last a decade. Second-hand clothing shops on both sides of the Atlantic do big business in vin-

tage Levi's jeans from the Sixties and Seventies.

Most designers have worked with denim at some stage in their careers. The first designer jeans boom is usually reckoned to have begun in 1977. For five years, the young and the not-so-young enthusiastically squeezed into any pair of jeans with a designer label. In truth, many of the original labels were launched by celebrities rather than fashion designers: Gloria Vanderbilt, the American socialite; Vidal Sassoon, the hairdresser; even Joan Collins in her pre- Dynasty days.

None of these collections had quite the impact, however, of Calvin Klein's designer denim line, famously launched in the United States by a pre-pubescent Brooke Shields mouthing in a prime-time commercial break: 'Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.'

At the core of the original boom were well-made women's jeans in stretch fabrics. The new wave of denim fashion puts a similar emphasis on stretch. Although many women will always prefer wearing baggy men's jeans cinched in with a belt, the priority this year in fashion terms is very much fit - jeans, waistcoats and jackets that hug the contours of the body and leave nothing to the imagination.

The big difference between then and now is in the variety of denim garments on the market. The designers have to be rather more imaginative in 1993 because fewer people these days are automatically impressed by a name for a name's sake.

Storey likes to do the unpredictable with fabrics. 'Denim is exceptionally versatile. You can rework it any way you want.' She used denim in her first collection of A-line smocks and flares back in 1984, and believes the fabric has overcome its functional-workwear connotations. The point is best illustrated in her new collection, which includes denim shirts containing a new fibre called Tencel. The fabric is a veritable cashmere of denim - super-soft to the touch and, says Storey, just right for evening wear.

She says she will not necessarily include denim in all her collections henceforth, but both Hamnett and Richmond have adopted denim clothing as integral parts of their

collections.

The former pioneered the way in the mid-Eighties: washing, dyeing, printing, ripping and stretching denim, utilising all sorts of innovative techniques for which she has not received sufficient credit. Richmond is a relative newcomer, introducing denim last year in his lower-priced Destroy collection. The new collection includes full denim skirts and fitted jackets, and denim details such as patch pockets and hems on stretch jersey dresses.

Richmond calls denim 'the most universal fabric of all, breaking all class, creed and age boundaries'. The way forward, he believes, is for designers to treat denim as a versatile fashion fabric rather than as a traditional jeans fabric. 'It is no longer limited by pre-determined boundaries.' Which sums up the attitude of all three designers. In 1993, denim goes with everything.

(Photograph omitted)

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

    C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

    AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

    £450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?