Saying denim is a trend for autumn is like saying florals are big for spring — “ground-breaking”. However, when it appears on runways from Prada to Chanel to Kenzo, independent denim labels pop up with inspiring new concepts, and most importantly, the long-reigning skinny jean comes to its demise, it’s time to take notice of this not-so-humble wardrobe staple.

What’s new is the sheer amount of different styles, washes, cuts and shapes to choose from. There is no right or wrong, there are no rules. It’s all about freedom of expression.

“Denim is having such an incredible moment right now — from high end to high street,’ says Katherine Ormerod, editorial director of Lyst and fan of a cropped flare or high waist. “I love the fact that the ubiquitous skinny is dead—we all ended up looking the same. I feel so much more like myself in jeans that are more individual. I also love the fact that there’s been a return to no-stretch, vintage style denim — something that moulds itself to your personal shape and you wear in and you wear out. I don’t think it’s about buying 10 pairs of jeans each season now — you seek your perfect pair and make them unique to your body.”

Coco Chan of agrees. “Overall the trend for greater experimentation in denim is producing the more exciting results — be it through unique washes, patchwork, or even frayed denim, which Marques’Almeida have been championing brilliantly for several seasons. And who would have predicted that placing the zipper on the outside of your jeans, as at Off-White, would be such a runaway success?” Her top buys for the season include  the oversize-top from Marques’Almeida, a pair of distressed jeans from Off-White, a two-tone jacket from SJYP and cropped jeans from RE/DONE.

And for Navaz Batliwalla the woman behind the successful Disneyrollergirl blog, there’s more of an arty edge this season. “I'm really into the oversized, deconstructed denim jackets that I've been seeing — supersized bomber jackets, collaged denim, stuff that looks like lots of jackets stitched together. A bit like a Robert Rauschenberg multi media painting in clothing form!” She agrees that denim should be worn in and softened over time. “I love rigid old school Japanese indigo denim that's like cardboard when you first put it on!”

There really are endless ways to express yourself in denim this season. “I’ll be investing a pair of Gucci and Victor Alfaro acid wash jeans.” says Caroline Issa fashion director of Tank. “I love the acid wash trend, it’s such a nice blast from the past!”

Here we unzip  some of our favourite denim brands and geek out on their USPs.

The upcyclers: RE/DONE

Luxury e-commerce site STYLEBOP.COM launched the hot LA based denim specialist RE/DONE’s Autumn Winter 2016 collection earlier this week. RE/DONE, founded by Sean Barron and Jamie Mazur in 2014, aims to restore individuality to the luxury realm, keep heritage brands relevant (by upcycling Levi’s) and create sustainable fashion.  

“What we found so appealing, and refreshing, with RE/DONE was the merging of two seemingly opposing qualities — a brand new pair of jeans in modern fit, that at the same time felt like something you have owned for years. It’s essentially a solution to what women have been searching for in vintage stores for decades — the perfect pair of pre-loved jeans that have not lost their shape over time – it’s a win win,” says Chan. All of their products are one-offs, manufactured in Los Angeles without harsh chemicals and using methods to conserve water. By taking apart second-hand Levi’s at the seams, they are able to create contemporary styles without creating waste.

The tree huggers: Story mfg

Approaching sustainable denim from a different vantage point, London denim start-up Story mfg, founded by Katy Katazome and Bobbin Threadbare, creates organic biodegradable products so that when you do have to discard your clothes, they enrich the soil. With the tagline “slow made” the 100% animal (and people) friendly label focuses on investing time and effort into their pieces, from their earth-friendly plant dyes to hand weaving.

The All-American: Bliss and Mischief

Founder of Bliss and Mischief, Hillary Justin, takes vintages Levi’s and customises them with Western flair. Inspired by a cactus that grew behind her house and the colours of the American West, Justin gives once-loved pieces new life.  Katherine Ormerod, editorial director of Lyst is a fan. She says “I love what they do with embroidery.”

The purist: I AND ME

Former Topshop buyer, Jessica Gebhart, launched online venture, I AND ME earlier this year. The lifestyle label provides genderless Japanese selvedge denims, focusing on fit and fabrication. As well as wiping away perceived notions of gender in clothing, the pieces are seasonless, and are built to withstand both time and trends.

The realist: KÉJI

The reason behind Katie Green’s success with cult favourite, KÉJI may be that she trys to “remove ‘trend’ elements and treat denim as a tailoring fabric.” Her unconventional silhouettes and use of “real denim” (non-stretch, Japanese sourced material) have led to pieces that upgrade jeans from casual daywear into our most coveted wardrobe staples.

Text by Rachel Cohen