I own 15 pairs of jeans — about six of them are skinny, so, yes, as a former skinny jeans lover, I feel your pain too. I remember the first pair of skinny jeans I bought back in 2007. They were stretchy, faded, ripped, and none of my friends understood them. Back then, skinny jeans were for girls and the Jonas Brothers, so wearing them made me a rule-breaker of some sorts. How times have changed. 

Skinny jeans then became a staple in the 2010s, and the unspoken agreement was: the skinnier, the better. Mandem, including yours truly, used to walk around in jeans that were so tight they either had zips at the hem, or we had to sit down to take it off. The skinny jeans’ fever was so real, there was a time someone had to use scissors to get one off me in the heat of fornication. 

As much as we’d like to bash the skinny jeans now, the truth is, it was a trend we all enjoyed because there was something flirty and fun about it. Now, former celebrity skinny jeans ambassadors like Wizkid and Davido are going for relaxed and oversized trousers. So, where did it all go wrong for skinny jeans? 

Let me explain

The 2020 Pandemic

While skinny jeans were a cool fashion pandemic that shaped style for over a decade, the real pandemic came in 2020 and ended its reign. The lockdown that followed the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic changed the relationship between men and clothes. Since we split our time between trying not to lose our minds and convincing our employers that we were meeting our KPIs, the skinnies got replaced with more relaxing bottoms like sweatpants and baggy jeans. 

Fashion blogger, @monsiuercoupet

When the world eventually opened up, most men like me had finally gotten used to being comfortable and allowing their family jewels to breathe, so struggling to put on a pair of skinnies felt like unnecessary stress. Fashion quickly became about how an outfit feels, not just how it looks. 

Gen Zs

At this point, I’m convinced Gen Zs derive joy in taking things away from millennials. They’ve taken away phone calls, side parts, optimism and general peace of mind, thanks to all their annoying apps and annoying desire to always “talk things out”. I blame them for everything, including the death of skinny jeans. 

Gen Zs are constantly dragging millennials for wearing skinny jeans, and this is one battle I’m willing to fight for them. Even though we used to think skinnies were the definition of ashewo fits back in the day, this new generation is showing us that ashewo is not just in the clothes, it’s a state of mind, and I fuck with that. 

Random thought, if Gen Zs hate us so much, why are they obsessed with the 1990s, which is the era millennials were born in? It’s very sus because they drag us for liking 1990s music, but every two to five days, they’re either sampling the sound of that era or copying its aesthetic. 

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The Resurgence of 1990s Fashion

The death of skinny jeans for men is also connected to our obsession with the fashion, music and overall feel of the 1990s. Many of the new iterations of jeans for men, from the straight cut to the boot cut, were popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Instead of trying to dress like Burna Boy, this generation wants to dress like RMD in Checkmate, and Baba Fryo. We’re swapping tight fits for boxy-looking fits that give off a more polished (and less thirsty) look. 

Social Media has Democratised Fashion

Once upon a time, people weren’t allowed to make fashion choices by themselves. No, I’m not saying we were all forced into a Covenant University, but what was cool was determined by a select group of magazines and bloggers. While we still look at magazines and blogs once in a while, social media has turned fashion into a democracy, and whether we like it or not, it has influenced how we dress. 

Taking “tastemakers” away from the equation, we finally have options and can be more daring, bold and attuned to our own personal styles. You can draw fashion influence from style stars like Denola Grey and I can pull my fashion inspiration from some random guy in Port Harcourt whose style appeals to me. Because of this, no one can definitively say what’s in or out when it comes to fashion. And, yes, I get the irony since I’m telling y’all to give up skinny jeans. 

Ultimately, skinny jeans are fucking uncomfortable. Even though they’re fading out now, the truth is, they, just like straight-cut jeans from the 1990s, may still make a comeback. Our perception of what’s cool is constantly changing, and that’s the best thing about fashion. 

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.