It’s undeniable that jeans are essential to the overall structure of our fashion DNA (#seewhatwedidthere). And denim itself has, as of late, emerged as a year-round ensemble must-have for more than just the well-heeled hipster set.

So when we here at conducted a survey of 1,000 residents from across the UK regarding their jean-related spending habits, we certainly did not predict the results.

When presented with the question, “What is the average amount you spend on a pair of jeans?” and asked to choose one of five answers (£20 or less; between £20-£40; between £40-£60; £60 or more; I don’t buy jeans), 35.6% of respondents answered with “I don’t buy jeans” — making it the most-chosen response.


35.6% of a random sampling of UK residents do not buy jeans?! Feeling a bit flummoxed, we were tempted to follow-up with, “Well then, do you steal them?”

Instead, we decided to investigate.

Row of second hand jeans

So spending is up, but denim is…down?
When it comes to denim, the UK is the third largest consumer base in the world, ranking behind only Germany and the United States. And UK consumer spending in the first quarter of this year was the highest it’s been in a decade, with retail sales up 6.9% in April. Even economists were optimistic about what this meant for GDP growth in the second quarter.

Interestingly enough, our survey results showed that of the people who do buy jeans, the highest percentage (25.7% of respondents) said that they spend only £20 or less on one pair. This suggests that even the people buying jeans aren’t willing to spend a whole lot on them.

In a way, this makes sense; despite the fact that the UK is the third largest consumer of denim, UK residents wear jeans fewer days per week on average than countries with a similar rate of denim spending. Presumably, this is because casual dress in the UK is less acceptable than, say, in the US. (Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Casual Fridays, innit?) And apparently, owning/wearing jeans increasingly loses its appeal as people get older — at least according to this Global Denim Market Study, which was published last year.

Cowboy in jeans sleeping

What’s age got to do with it?
Both Gordon Richardson, fashion director at Topman, and British designer Wayne Hemingway admitted that after age of 35 that they did not find it appropriate to be wearing jeans. Even though we think maybe they should take this up with Steve Jobs, there is some evidence in our own findings to support the sentiment that the older we get, the less likely we are to buy jeans.

For example, the percentage of respondents who said they don’t buy jeans goes up to 42.3% when looking at only those aged 65 and over, while the majority of the 45 – 54 and 36 – 44 age groups were more likely to say they spent between £20-£40 on a pair of jeans. On the flip side, however, a whopping 41.1% of respondents between the ages of 25 – 34 also said they don’t buy jeans.

The kids these days, well, they’re confusing as ever: respondents in the 18 – 24 age group, were almost as likely to say they spend £20 – £40 on jeans (34.6%) as they were to say they don’t buy them at all (34.7%).

Littel boy red phone jean overalls

Looking (Fashion) Forward
So, is jean-buying in the UK on the decline? It would kind of seem so; but let’s not go running all about making wild Armageddenim predictions just yet.

Stylist and denim expert Sam Remer of doesn’t think it is: “Denim is always on trend, as the majority of people who don’t follow trends [still] wear jeans.” She also points out that SS14 fashion has been major for denim, with Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Balmain and House of Holland all featuring pieces in their shows. And one of our personal high street favs Dorothy Perkins just launched a dashing new range of jean styles (jeggings for the win!).

And then of course, there’s the always-reliable trend report from the other side of the pond: “I live in New York, and what I see most here on the streets, in the restaurants and bars and wherever you go is DENIM!” says Denimology managing editor Lisette Geller.

Three cheers for that.