Everybody used to wear jeans. But not anymore. (Thinkstock)
Everybody used to wear jeans. But not anymore.
Lexile

Americans' obsession with jeans is beginning to wear thin.

Jeans long have been a go-to staple in closets across the country. Not many pieces of clothing are so comfortable they can be worn daily, yet versatile enough to be dressed up or down.

But sales of the iconic denim blues fell 6 percent during the past year. That's after decades of almost steady growth. Why? People more often are sporting yoga pants and leggings.

The shift is partly due to a lack of new designs since brightly colored skinny jeans were a hit a couple years back. It's also a reflection of changing views about what's appropriate attire for work and school.

"Yoga pants have replaced jeans in my wardrobe," said Anita Ramaswamy, a Scottsdale, Arizona high-school senior. "You can make it as attractive as skinny jeans, and it's more comfortable."

To be sure, the jeans business isn't dead. Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy, estimates denim accounts for 20 percent of annual sales at the nation's department stores.

But sales of jeans in the U.S. fell 6 percent to $16 billion during the year that ended in June. That's according to market research firm NPD Group. Sales of yoga pants and other "active wear" climbed 7 percent to $33.6 billion.

Levi Strauss invented blue jeans 141 years ago. Now the company is among jean makers that acknowledge their business has been hurt. That's led them to create new versions of classic denim that are more "stretchy" and mimic the comfort of sweatpants.

Jeans have faced other rough patches. One came in the mid-1970s, when denim sales fell 3 to 4 percent. Corduroy pants surged in popularity, with sales rising 10 to 12 percent, according to NPD estimates.

Fashion watchers say the latest decline could be the longest. The "athleisure" trend is the biggest threat jeans have faced because it reflects a fundamental lifestyle change.

"Everyone wants to look like they're running to the gym, even if they're not," said Professor Amanda Hallay of LIM College in Manhattan.

Critical thinking challenge: Name two specific factors that led to the drop in jeans sales. Are these factors likely to change in the future?

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COMMENTS (304)
  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/11/2014 - 09:25 p.m.

    I think this is awful because the famous jeans sales dropped 6%. This is a huge impact on sales especially the company, Levi Strauss. They want to help other companies keep up with the changes since they are the oldest jean company and they may faced some challenges that are similar to the problems other jean companies are facing right now.
    Critical thinking challenge: Name two specific factors that led to the drop in jeans sales. Are these factors likely to change in the future?
    Answer: "Athleisure" and the decline in the mid 1970s are two factors that lead to the dropping jeans sales. These are likely to change in the future because as people are wearing yoga pants and leggings more often, this leaves the jeans to be left alone.

  • Leah_Campana
    9/12/2014 - 08:10 a.m.

    This story is about science because people may not be wearing jeans because their 'experiment' may have been wrong. Their friends may not have liked their normal jeans, or their jeans may have been to hot to be wearing during this time of year. Parents may not have liked the style of jeans they were, maybe they had too many holes in them for some parents. Maybe jeans have gotten to expensive for some parents.

  • R.A.Micheal
    9/12/2014 - 08:37 a.m.

    The sales dropped in jeans because one. They are less comfortable than yoga pants. Two. A lack in new jean designs as well. I think they are unlikely to change as Yoga pants and other comfortable pants are getting higher sales percentages.

  • SA2001orange
    9/12/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    Two specific factors that led to drop in jeans sales are that people are not buying jeans that much anymore. People are buying yoga pants and leggings because they have more styles than jeans. I don't think these factors will change in the future because we'll be making new clothes with new designs.

  • SM2000Jake
    9/12/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    I think that a lot of people now in days are not as self conscious about trying to fit the standard of what people think is right to wear and now people just wear what ever makes them comfortable and honestly I have to agree with them 100%. Jeans I still wear often to school but I definitely wear sweatpants when I want to also. I can tell why there has been a decrease in jeans sales though there are more things to wear now except jeans that can mimic the style of jeans but have a lot more comfort than jeans do. I think that in the future the sale of jeans will probably stay the same as it is now not a decrease but not a huge increase either.

  • kr2001blue
    9/12/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    two factors that led to the drop of jeans may be because of summer when it was hot or they are not comfortable. I think they will change a little because they are trying to make the jeans more comfortable but maybe some people just think jeans are jeans.

  • kr2001panda
    9/12/2014 - 08:42 a.m.

    why jeans sale are drop because legging and yoga pants are in. and everyone love yoga pants because they are very nice to dress up and dress down that why jean sales has drop.

  • elenam00
    9/12/2014 - 10:38 a.m.

    I think it's interesting that jean sales are going down. Lots of schools have banned yoga pants and leggings. Jeans can be used in so many ways, it seems silly not to wear them.

  • lexie1490
    9/12/2014 - 10:42 a.m.

    I think it is horrible that we (Americans) are not dressing up any more. I bet if you were to walk into any grocery store half of the people in there will be in sweats or comfortable clothes. To be honest I love dressing up for school. I think others should do the same.

  • Michelle7213
    9/12/2014 - 10:43 a.m.

    This article is very true. Many girls like to be comfortable while walking around and leggings have it all. Leggings can be have patterns and can be just like jeans. Jeans now are used to dress nice in.

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