A stylist on how to shop for jeans (and the styles to look out for this season)


Skinny jeans made you a denim sceptic? You need to read this.

“Life is so much more casual now,” Melbourne-based stylist and creative director Carlos Mangubat tells me over the phone, as he returns clothing loans on a rainy Tuesday morning. “Now denim belongs everywhere – in the workplace, a restaurant, you name it,” he continues.

I nod in agreement but at the same time, I feel a familiar chest-tightening anxiety when I think about the ever-daunting task of shopping for jeans. The truth is jean shopping shouldn’t be stressful, but it is.

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Maybe it’s the mysterious sizing that I’ve never managed to figure out (even writing this I am unsure what an inseam is, or what length I should want it to be) or the fact that I have upwards of 10 pairs of ill-fitting jeans currently sitting in my wardrobe, collecting dust. But whatever the reason, I realise I’m harbouring a deep distrust of denim. 

A lot of this probably stems from the fact I grew up in the heyday of the fast fashion-friendly skinny jean. It was a time when my friends and I all owned the same pair of skin-tight black jeans that we would trust to carry us through every Saturday night, paired with a pair of heeled black boots and a revolving selection of ‘going out tops’. 

But a lot has changed since then. “There’s a much wider scope of interpretation of denim these days [and] that feels a lot cooler,” Carlos explains. “There has been a lean towards slouchier, more oversized and over-proportion style denim, and a lot of brands have moved into using tailoring and new ways of producing denim.”

One such brand is Nobody Denim. The Melbourne-based team has just released its AU22 collection which includes styles that sit firmly on the waist, with some room in the hips and thighs. The collection, inspired by the diversity of women’s bodies and a feeling of connection, is a masterclass in the way denim can be both form-fitting and flattering, hugging the body in the places you want to accentuate and skimming over those you’d rather conceal. 

In this new post-pandemic era of denim, when comfort is as important as style, Carlos tells me to treat jean shopping like I would shopping for anything else in my wardrobe. “All the same fashion rules apply,” he says matter-of-factly. 

And he’s right. Treating denim like any other purchase not only takes the pressure off the experience, but also encourages us to think more deeply about factors like sustainability and ethical practices. These are things that can often slip to the back of your mind when you’re sweating under the hot lights of a changing room worrying if your bum would look better in a high-rise cut, but they are undeniably necessary.

After all, denim jeans are still one of the most resource-heavy, environmentally damaging items we can buy. Thankfully, there are brands to turn to who are using innovation to combat this. Nobody Denim uses FibreTrace technology in an increasing number of its garments to ensure the utmost transparency. Customers can scan a QR code on their jeans and find out where the cotton was sourced from (and its environmental impact), where it was manufactured and by whom. 

All FibreTrace garments are made from Good Earth Cotton, the world’s first carbon-positive cotton farm in Moree NSW. Nobody Denim is committed to keeping as much manufacturing on shore in Australia as possible through its Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation, ensuring everyone involved in making its designs receives a fair wage and is provided with safe working conditions.

As I jump on the Nobody Denim site to peruse its new collection, I feel an unfamiliar sense of calm come over me. It’s a new feeling, totally removed from the usual sense of dread I get when I shop for denim. I realise Carlos was right. In this brave new world of denim, there is no more room for ‘bad’, whether that be bad fits or bad practices.

Explore Nobody Denim’s AU22 collection here

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