WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
While there seems to be a permanent place for every cut of jeans these days, when it comes to finishes one thing is clear – denim trends are cyclical. Raw, distressed, embellished, patchworked, deconstructed; you name it, denim has done it. Following years of Vetements-reworked Levi’s, frayed hems, and Alessandro Michele’s embellishment, for 2020 denim is rediscovering its roots as a piece of workwear – it’s embracing all things paint splattered. But, forget base coats of primer and spilled Dulux, the modern paint-splatter jeans trend is much more about capturing the effortless cool of an artist in their studio rather than failed attempts to repaint the living room.
If you’re not handy with a paintbrush, step away from the acrylics. We’ve curated a selection of our favorite paint-splash jeans and denim jackets so you don’t have to enroll at art school.
The double Ds of Dsquared2 might as well stand for ‘distressed denim’, considering the Canadian brand’s penchant for all things ripped and frayed. As if to say ‘there’s no such thing as too much detailing’, these Dsquared2 paint-splatter jeans are tastefully splattered with flecks of white paint, which really work to accentuate the whiskers and faded distressing.
Palm Angels turn a pair of black paint-splatter jeans into a metaphysical embodiment of the universe. Capturing an entire galaxy in just one pair of jeans, dark denim fabric is subtly flecked with white paint to make it seem as if you’re gazing into the night sky, while the cactus-print artwork only adds to the psychedelic aesthetic.
Off-White’s collaboration with legendary street artist Futura was arguably the origin of the modern men’s paint-splatter jean trend, and it looks like Virgil Abloh is not ready to put down the paintbrush just yet. These jeans are a love letter to the New York legend himself – the inky splotches of Stephen Sprouse blues and purples, the fine white lines of an airbrush, the splatters of a choking spray can are all hallmarks of graffiti’s OG abstract expressionist.
Like David Choe ruining a recently completed painting, or Banksy shredding his artwork at auction, Marcelo Burlon is one fashion designer who believes that art is no place for sentimentality. No longer keen on his neon multicolored denim jacket, Burlon followed the advice of the Rolling Stones and decided to ‘paint it black’. It’s either that or he’d dressed for a nu-rave night but found himself in the queue for Berghain.
This stonewashed denim jacket recreates the bleached denim aesthetic of British mod culture through broad brushstrokes of white paint. It’s 1960s Brighton finished with a heavy topcoat of Farrow & Ball. To really capture that DIY spirit, there are Basquiat-style doodles on the chest pocket and back, too.
Like a modern-day Picasso, Philipp Plein incorporates two different painting techniques on one garment to create this denim masterpiece. A meeting of street art and abstract expressionism, the front, and rear of the jacket are tagged with a graffiti-style stencil of Plein’s iconic logo, before being speckled with Jackson Pollock-esque flicks of multicolored paint to finish.