For almost ten years now, skinny jeans have had a sartorial strangle hold on our wardrobes. Despite the fashion press declaring the style 'dead' on a regular basis, we continue to favour the skinny over all other styles. But given the fickle nature of fashion, why has this particular jean stood the test of time? What's the secret to its staying power?
The skinny silhouette has fallen in and out of vogue over the centuries, and the current preference for a narrower style jean has many possible points of origin. In the late 1970s it was adopted by punks, who wore skinny, bondage styles as part of their anti-establishment 'uniform'. Later, in 2003, Hedi Slimane sent his models down the Dior Homme catwalk in a strictly slimmed down silhouette, which quickly became the look du jour among the fashion cognoscenti. This famously prompted Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel, to slim down quite dramatically so that he could squeeze himself into a pair of Slimane's much sought after skinny trousers!
But the skinny jean as we know it today probably first entered the public consciousness back in 2005, courtesy of a London based denim label and a certain Ms Moss. Superfine, launched in 2003, was one of the first brands to pioneer the skinny jean, and when Kate was snapped sporting a pair several years later, the rest, as they say, is history.
Today skinnies are worn by everyone, from pre-teens to pensioners and the fashion forward to purely functional dressers. And we all wear them quite differently. At one time, they may have had an air of rebellion about them, especially given their punk associations, but they're now just as likely to feature in the wardrobes of the suburban as the subversive.
The introduction of different fabrics and finishes has helped to maintain our interest in the skinny style. Leather, coloured and printed pairs have all made an appearance over the years. But I think that one of the main reasons for their longevity lies in the fact that the basic denim skinny has essentially become a wardrobe staple, providing us with a blank canvas for whatever we decide to pair with them. Simply put, the once high fashion skinny jean can now quite possibly be regarded as a non-fashion item.
It's high waisted, wide legged jeans that are currently trending, worn by those on the cutting edge of fashion who are keen to make a style statement. But despite the diktats of certain designers, I know I am one of many who still favour a slimmer silhouette. From a personal point of view, it suits my frame. Wide legged jeans, as far as I'm concerned, fall into the 'oversize' camp, a look currently beloved of the style set but one that I avoid at all costs - the clothes simply swamp me! I'm also short waisted, so higher waisted styles are a no-no too.
If, unlike me, you have the body to carry off this ultra fashionable style, the next question you need to ask yourself is "Will they slip seamlessly into my wardrobe?" The high waisted flare is certainly no 'blank canvas'. This month's Vogue dubs it "...one of the new season's trickiest trends" and I've already spotted a slew of "How to wear..." guides in other glossies.
Fashion thrives, and indeed survives, on the back of the next big thing, and despite my musings I wouldn't have it any other way. But while a nudge in a new direction is something I support wholeheartedly, I don't think this should mean that past seasons' styles simply be declared passé as a matter of course. In this instance at least, we're standing steadfast in our skinnies!
But for how much longer can the skinny jean reign supreme? The form-fitting style is still favoured by Hedi Slimane, who is now creative director at Saint Laurent. Since taking the helm at the revered French fashion house, his catwalk collections have divided critical opinion but been embraced by consumers, which speaks volumes. I get the feeling that we won't be relinquishing our skinnies until we're good and ready...