Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Skinnier Than Skinny Jeans

With this blog I have given myself the responsibility to observe and ponder trends, but when nothing is entering the radar, I must seek outside expertise. So I asked my daugther, "What's trendy these days?" Without flinching, she answered, "You're weird." But then she offered some suggestions: "Smartphones, jeggings..."

"Jeggings? What are jeggings?"

"They're leggings that look like jeans."

Indeed they are. They are made to look like denim, but fitted so tight they might as well be made of Lycra. The good thing is that they're not Lycra or nylon, they're some sort of stretch denim -- I'm not sure if technically that can be considered denim -- but the point is that they are something like jeans, which give them more respectability than leggings ever had.

Jeggings are like skinny jeans taken to the next level. Skinny jeans -- real denim jeans that wrap very tightly around the leg, all the way to the ankle -- had gained respectability in their own right, because real jeans in any style incarnation will always be respectable, and because so many long-legged models and actresses look so fabulous in them. And one more thing -- when cut right, they lift everything up and pull everything in, and your legs might actually look half an inch longer. Jeggings have been trying to ride on the coattails of skinny jeans since last summer.

This year the trend gained momentum. In the spring, rising sales and stock prices at apparel and accessories maker Guess were credited to its peddling of skinny jeans and the jeggings variation: http://www.smartmoney.com/investing/stocks/skimpy-jeans-hefty-profits/ There's also skinny jeans and jeggings for babies.

And jeggings were breaking news in several news magazines in India, of all places. (Something's going on with India, I tell you. See my earlier post). So this garment has some mileage still left, at least in the other side fo the world. Here's the article:  http://news.oneindia.in/2010/03/06/jeggingsto-take-pants-fashion-bystorm.html

You might think this is some completely inconsequential fashion topic, which of course it is by so many measures. Then again, economic recovery could ride on how we take to jeggings. That's because retailers' fortunes rise and fall with the rest of the economy and vice versa. For apparel retailers in particular, the trick is to hit on that must-have garment to spur consumers into action. This back-to-school season all bets were on the jeggings.

Consider this from an Aug. 2 article in http://www.marketwatch.com/:  "As retailers head into the critical back-to-school season, the industry's second-biggest selling period, they're using an array of new tools and deals to spur consumers to buy. They also hope exclusive products such as Madonna's Material Girl line at Macy's Inc. and trends such as skinny jeans, so-called jeggings, and iPads, will spur demand."

That's a lot of hope to put on jeggings when you kind of lump them in the same category with the iPad, but indeed, that expectation was shared by many apparel retailers and the analysts who follow their stocks. Investment firm Goldman Sachs for one has had its share of bloggers and commentators poke fun at it for its focus on jeggings as a sales catalyst that would boost some retail stocks. (It's always fun when you know what a stock analyst is actually talking about.) In any event, neither jeggings nor anything else did that much for retail sales this back-to-school season.

But considering how long cargo pants and all its variations have lasted, I'd give jeggings at least through the holiday season. In the meantime, the girl in the house wants to go shopping for some, especially after this posting. "You owe me, mom."

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