The Fall and Rise of Low-Slung Jeans
Are you ready to take the plunge (again)? Low-rise jeans have made a comeback on runways and a coterie of celebrities.
Sagging — the practice of wearing low-slung jeans — is back. The jeans that ruled the early 2000s, thanks to enthusiasm from celebrities like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Beyoncé (often paired with a belly chain or visible G-string) have been proclaimed the trend of 2020 by style hub the Cut, who warned that “the countdown to low-rise jeans has begun.” Since, the hip-grazing trend has made its return on the likes of Rihanna, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Popsugar associate editor, Kelsey Garcia, explains the context behind the fad:
[Low-rise jeans’] association with the ’90s and ’00s is actually credited to Alexander McQueen, who debuted a pair of crack-revealing pants, referred to as Bumsters, during his debut collection in 1994. The designer would go on to include the style in a few subsequent collections. It seems the late designer’s brand is trying to bring the trend back, with low-rise jeans appearing in two Alexander McQueen shows in the last three years, most recently in its Spring 2019 collection.
Unsurprisingly, Britney Spears has celebrated the style’s return out and about in Los Angeles’ Westlake Village, according to the daily denim destination Denimology, who called Spears’ choice “the lowest rise jeans we’ve spotted on anybody this century!”
For those ready to take the plunge — again — the style has returned to being readily available. Levi’s pinned low-rider styles to its 2019 lineup and New York label Linder NYC rocked the look in its Spring/Summer 2018 show. Gucci, Chanel, ALYX, Balenciaga and Roberto Cavalli have joined Alexander McQueen in featuring low-rise jeans on their runways. Evidently, the Cut’s prophecy is being fulfilled.
Yet the dominant response seeks to squelch it. In response to the Cut prediction, one source, Jasjal, tweeted: “I would walk in front of a moving train before wearing low rise jeans with a crop top.”
Many have pointed out that the jeans are being met with opposition because they aren’t necessarily flattering on different body types. Writer Stuti Bhattacharya thinks the jeans are horrific:
A trend created by supermodels for supermodels, low-rise jeans are best summed up as an infernal show nobody asked for. Like Donald Trump getting re-elected, they are threatening to make a comeback. Spotted on the likes of Bella Hadid and Jennifer Lopez — it’s almost as if these jeans are menacingly eyeing our muffin tops and well-fed bellies in an attempt to ruin our lives by returning to street style catalogues.
Kelsey Garcia agrees:
My general opinion on bottoms is: if I can see my belly button, I’m not interested. While I appreciate its importance in the canon of denim, I already lived through the height of the low-rise trend as an awkward adolescent in the 2000s, and I’ve been happily sitting in my high-waist jeans ever since. Though the silhouette of my jeans have changed over the years from skintight skinny jeans to straight-leg mom jeans, the rise has stayed the same.
Jomarlyn Diaz, a product specialist, confirms that the return of the trend has yet to be accepted by mainstream consumers. “A lot of people are against low-rise jeans coming back, but a lot of people were also against them when they gained popularity in the early 2000s,” she points out. “That didn’t stop low-rise jeans from becoming a fashion trend back then, so I don’t see why they can’t make a comeback today. It’s fashion, it’s meant to be expressive, meant to make us feel and look good.”
When Diaz sees someone sporting the style, she says she admires their boldness and dismisses the outdated mentality that the style can only be pulled off by thin women: “When it comes to fashion, it’s the bold and audacious who set trends. We’re now in a body-positive world. Anyone who’s bold enough to make an attempt at wearing low-rise jeans before they become a recognized trend can most definitely wear them.”
Fashion stylist Keicia Shanta says it is no surprise that low-riders are inching their way back into the conversation.“Fashion is just like history. It always repeats itself,” she says.
Shanta says the style might have a fresh appeal to Generation Z consumers who didn’t come of age while the jeans were popular the first time around. For millennials, there’s the nostalgia factor: the jeans remind her of watching former teen star Mischa Barton on the hit TV drama, The O.C., and Jennifer Lopez singing her hit “Jenny from the Block.”
It’s true, Shanta says, that the obvious demographic for low-rise jeans are those with archetypal model figures. Still, she urges anyone interested in trying out the look to go for it. “You are guaranteed to turn heads,” she says.
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