As recessions roll across Europe, fast-fashion and mass market retailers are hoping a dose of fashion-forward jeans at bargain-basement prices will continue to lure shoppers to the checkout.
With jeans selling for less than 40 euros, or $50, on average in Germany and most women in neighboring France spending no more than 75 euros, or $94, a pair, European consumers are investing less in denim than ever before — a trend that’s likely to continue, given the current economic climate.
“If people are really looking for low prices, they don’t go to brands,” said Helene Follot, denim buyer at Paris urban and sportswear emporium Citadium. “They’ll go to Zara or to H&M.”
“Historically, H&M has done well during economic downturns,” said a spokeswoman for the Swedish fashion giant. “For example, in Germany we have succeeded in taking market share during a low economic period.”
The Swedish chain is extending its denim offer for spring to include more length varieties, plus new washes, including the “damaged” look, featuring patches, holes, mends and frays, in jeans, denim skirts, shorts and dresses. Prices for jeans, in styles including loose fit, boot cuts and flared legs, start at 19.90 euros, or $24.90, and go up to 49.90 euros, or $62.30.
At Spanish fast-fashion chain Mango, denim generates some 8 percent of sales and even more buzz.
“We get a lot of feedback from people on the high street and from our sales [teams] that denim is one of the things that people talk about,” said Mango’s fashion design director Judith Ventura.
Tapping into its customers’ polarized desires for basic jeans and innovative styling, Mango is producing a range of styles that include both. This spring, for instance, the chain will introduce a line of cigarette pants with washes ranging from torn effects to bleached. New styles also include an extraskinny flare.