Last November, noted fashion risk-taker Rihanna emerged from a New York City studio wearing gigantic jeans. Made by the London-based design house Marques'Almeida, which recently won a British Fashion Award for Emerging Womenswear Designer, the pants were fringed with the denim-loving duo's signature frayed selvage, giving a pair of $300 pants an edge of coolness.
Rihanna is renowned for making unorthodox style choices, but moreso she is a trendsetter, combining global cool-kid street style with high fashion, a barometer for what will be (slightly) mainstream three or six months or a year from when she wears it. These pants, from Marques'Almeida's so-covetable Fall 2014 collection, signified something of a silhouette sea change that's already been looming upon us. Where retailers have been flush for years with jeans of the skinny and boyfriend oeuvre (and not much else), and high-end designers have made bank on the proliferation of the not-so-cheap leather legging, the fitted pant boom time is about to end. You and I and everyone we know are hellbent on our way towards that wide-leg life. Get into it.
This is more than just an extension of the pajama trouser, which peaked around mid-2013, and presaged the current trend of leisure wear as daywear. This is even more than the resurgence of late '90s rave gear, concurrent with the kandi masses, higher-end versions of JNCOs and shapeless breakaways—or the nostalgia for the winglike baggy pants of '90s pro skaters, excess yards of fabric taking flight on handrails and half-pipes—or the convergence of the two. No, this is a new kind of large-pants emergence, bigger than the long-limbed, flared trousers, bigger than the gaucho, bigger than the jolly culotte, all of which have had their day on the runway. This is the biggest fucking denim pant we have ever seen, and if we are lucky, daring, and/or concerned primarily with comfort and legroom, even the normiest of normies shall all be wearing them in 2016, when they hit the H&M/Uniqlo/Forever21 near you.
Of course this look, from Rihanna's i-D cover shoot, is a high fashion look. But this silhouette is not some kind of art prop, only to be had on the highest shelves of your favorite fashion stylist. Along with the Marques'Almeida look above, you can also cop a variation of game from Amsterdam label Maison the Faux, whose level of genderfuckery and humor is characterized by models pounding the runway in full-body quicksilver latex suits, and whose ginormous Triton Cargo Jeans sold out on V-Files in under two weeks.
"Why the Hell Did We Wear JNCO Jeans?," cried Complex last year, in blissful innocence of the JNCO-sized revival bearing its awesome weight upon us. With a tongue-in-cheek tone that betrayed his abject fear of the giant jeans' return, writer Brenden Gallagher posits:
Fashion is like home: you can never really go back again. This may be why the trends of the past look so ridiculous today. A lace cravat would be tough to pull off in 2014, let alone powdered wigs. Though many style trends have come and gone, one in particular stands out as the absolute low point in the style history of man; the nadir of fashion for the human race. We speak, of course, of JNCO Jeans.
It is often said that if we don't learn from the mistakes of our past we are doomed to repeat them. This makes it extremely important to look back and seek answers. Today, we convene a truth and reconciliation commission for JNCO Jeans.
Hindsight makes us so wise, and in this case, we must apply that dictum not to the JNCO masses but to Brenden Gallagher, because he will no doubt be wearing giant jeans by 2016, just like the rest of us.
Yesterday, Rihanna released a behind-the-scenes teaser for the "FourFiveSeconds" video (above), which drops tomorrow. For the most part, it focuses on the styling process, in which—you guessed it—Rihanna is wearing giant denim. "Kanye came up with the idea of doing just some real street denim, all-American type look," she says. "This is actually his jacket that is some Sean John throwback vintage jacket, that is fucking major. That's the look. That's the fashion tip. Denim never goes out of style."
The Sean John is huge; so are the pants—not quite UFO status, but it's only a matter of time.
Image via Splash News.