If you're looking for jeans that are not skinnies, prepare for a daunting hunt

Zodwa Kumalo tried on at least 20 different pairs of jeans to find the perfect fit

18 August 2019 - 00:10 By
If you're hoping your denim Pinterest pins come to life, you may be disappointed when you head out jean shopping.
If you're hoping your denim Pinterest pins come to life, you may be disappointed when you head out jean shopping.
Image: Peter White/Getty Images

Bootcut jeans. No other two words spark as much ire from fashion editors when this trend resurfaces, just about every year, it seems. And this year is no different; this triggering cut of jeans was identified by GQ as a key denim trend for 2019.

Of course, there are style trends we just have to accept but it doesn't mean we have to embrace them. Not all trends are made for us and others just need a chance. One we all love to hate is skinny jeans. Every year since it came into being we've been told: "The skinny is dead," yet judging by shoppers and shelves, they are still very much alive.

My wardrobe is stacked 12-deep with jeans in shades of black, green and blue in all the versions my body has been in over its 20-odd years.

My go-to jeans are looking worse-for-wear (a high-waisted black pair from Country Road) and are no longer in production, as I experienced while trying to re-order them online. So I was forced to pound the aisles of Sandton City Mall in search of a new fit, with my two girls in tow.

First stop was Country Road. I wanted to see if they'd changed their minds and were back to stocking my favourite jeans and, if not, what they had by way of replacement. The answer was short: no, they're not. There were other options, just not the fits I was looking for. Soft jeggings (R699) seem to be the new skinnys and the mid-rise has replaced the high-waist.

The brand also has an eco-friendly offering: the CR. Denim label has a range made from 100% post-consumer waste for R999. I try on a tapered crop cut and it's soft and comfortable but hardly flattering to my ample hips. The fabric comprises denim that would usually end up in a landfill or donated. It is put into a machine that grinds and shreds the denim into fluffy pieces of cotton yarn, which can be spun and woven back in with virgin cotton and elastane for durability to produce a new piece of denim to make the jeans.

H&M was a bit of a minefield. There is a dedicated denim section, but at 10am on a Saturday styles and colours were already jumbled and out of stock and only very small sizes remained on the shelves. After half an hour of huffing and puffing I emerged with a black, high waist with a mini flare (R329) and a gently worn blue skinny with a regular waist (R799). Both ticked all my boxes - being able to bend over without exposing myself, a length that won't need tailoring and a denim stretch with enough give to keep things tight without making me look and walk like mutton dressed as a plump lamb.

Skinny jeans are everywhere at H&M, most disconcerting are the overwhelming volumes in the kids' section. As it was a denim day, we'd decided to deviate from my own search to hunt for jeans for my seven-year-old, but we'd been coming up short.

It is disheartening to not see yourself or your body type represented in stores

For little ones with non-traditional bodies, like my daughter, it is disheartening to not see yourself or your body type represented in stores. It's "skinny skinny skinny" everywhere and little else besides, which basically translates as: "If I do not fit into skinnys, I must be fat" in their young minds.

After deep-diving into overstocked rails with the help of a shop assistant at H&M, we finally found a pair that fit her comfortably, complete with an adjustable waist, for R379.

We almost walked past Zara when I saw the telltale signs of a good sale out of the corner of my eye, so we made a U-turn. And to my surprise my ass fit into a pair of Zara jeans - a super-soft, high-waisted skinny in air blue, at an affordable R579, that I was prepared to stand in an insanely long queue for.

Unfortunately, Levi's curvy jeans range for R599, which I had beelined for, was out of stock, thanks to the special 50% off the second pair on women's denim. I tried on the boyfriend jeans (R899) with ripped knees but the abrupt crop made me look like I had squeezed into my 12-year-old niece's jeans. The Guess jeans I tried on next were a fail-safe, but I was looking for something a little more out of the ordinary.

G-Star Raw was the one store I was expecting to see my Pinterest pins come to life but nothing in store inspired me to disrobe and try on. All I saw was row upon row of skinny jeans. Where were the double-yoke styles, the beautiful jeans with patchwork detailing and super-wide flares? Either I'd timed my shopping too late in the month or buyers still believe South African shoppers are too conservative for fashion-forward denim styles.

At G-Star Raw there were row upon row of skinny jeans.
At G-Star Raw there were row upon row of skinny jeans.
Image: Supplied

Last stop was at Cotton On, which had a great selection of the still-trendy but super-safe styles such as mommy jeans and low-slung jeans on offer. I fell in love with a blue pair of sailor-style jeans (R599) from the 91 jeans range - part of the Cotton On x BCI (Better Cotton Initiative). It's the largest cotton sustainability programme that provides training on sustainable farming practices to more than two-million cotton farmers in 21 countries.

On our way out of the mall, not only did I purchase the sailor jeans from Cotton On, we also went back to get the black mini flares from H&M.

But now that I've found suitable styles for my frame, I can safely retire to the safety and comfort of my laptop screen and favourite shopping portals - far from the cruel eyes of unflattering mirrors and: "Are you sure she's going to fit into that?" from callous shop assistants.

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