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Levi’s And Other Denim Companies To Go Into ‘Athleisure’

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Levis wants to woo your butt by making jeans more like yoga pants. Along with several other companies, Levi Strauss recently launched a new line of stretchy jeans, and has even opened a research lab to investigate new ways to make stretchy pants.

It’s long been common knowledge that stretchy garments like leggings, sweatpants, and yoga pants are more comfortable and flexible than denim; now there is actually market research to back this up. Jean sales have fallen 6 percent in the U.S. over the past year, according to the Huffington Post, and in July, Levi’s announced a 76 percent drop in profits for its past quarter. The company laid off 800 employees earlier this year.

So what are Americans clothing themselves with if not jeans? Research firm Piper Jaffray took a survey this spring, and it turned out that, not surprisingly, leggings and yoga pants were the most popular trend among teenage girls.

Yoga Pants Sales Are Up, Jeans Are Down

This has prompted companies like Levi’s to expand into the world of “athleisure”—comfortable workout clothes that you can wear outside the gym. This includes stretchy jeans, athletic wear, and every strange Frankenstein mish-mash in between.

For Levi’s, this means jeans with Liquid Shaping Technology, a coating that limits the stretch of the jeans in certain areas to produce a slimming yet comfortable effect. Its aforementioned laboratory, Eureka Labs, opened last year, and is “dedicated to hands-on testing and developing prototypes,” according to Levi Strauss’s Unzipped blog.

Other companies have introduced jeans with sweatpants-style material on the interior; Spanx has even created a line of denim leggings that tout their “exclusively-woven Real Lean Denim [!which!] uses dual-core technology to keep its shape (and contour yours).”

While many people will likely view the decreasing popularity of more structured pants as the death knell for Western civilization, others view it simply as a sign of the increasing popularity of working out. “More people are starting to focus on health and well-being and women want clothing that suits this,” Sporteluxe website founder Bianca Cheah told the Daily Telegraph.

What do you think? Are stretchy jeans the worst thing to happen to fashion since the ‘80s, or is it okay to introduce a little flexibility into our wardrobes?

Image credit: Levi Strauss & Co.

Featured in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The Washington Post
Featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and VOGUE

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