Op-Ed: Are Low-Rise Jeans and Flared Jeans Back?

Anne Erickson pictured in a black and white setting.
Story by Anne Erickson

Is it possible that the 1990s trend of low-rise jeans and flared jeans is finally coming back? I think so, and here’s why.

My grandma (sito, actually, as I would say in Lebanese) used to always say that fashion, trends and pretty much everything in life was cyclical. If long hair on guys was in and I couldn’t imagine it ever going back, she would assure me that, yes, eventually short hair on guys would be back in vogue, and she was always right. (Just for the record, I do like long hair on guys.)

From the late-1990s to the mid-2000s, I reveled in super low-rise, flared jeans. Call it the “hip-hugger” look. This style was perfect for my body and build, and I wore out so many pairs of these jeans without worry, knowing that more would be out there to scoop up.

Then, reality hit. My grandmother’s theory of trends being cyclical kicked in, and suddenly — gasp! — skinny jeans were popular. Super popular. It really seemed as if the change came overnight and out of nowhere. One day, I couldn’t find flared pants anywhere, and the same was true for low-rise jeans. Everything switched to the high-waisted “mom” look.

I fought the trend– and lost. I started wearing skinny jeans with as low a waist as I could find, but it was never low enough.

As the years passed, I kept hoping my grandma’s philosophy would prove true and that one glorious day, low-rise, flared jeans would once again be back in style.

Now, that day has arrived.

Gen Z is fighting the skinny jeans trend

Gen Z is voicing their opinion on fashion via social media app TikTok, and they’re hating on skinny jeans. One TikTok user, @julia311e, even goes so far to say she would rather lose her home than wear skinny jeans. A bit dramatic, but we get the message.

Gen Z is also challenging the side part, opting for the middle part look, another 1990s, early-2000s trend.

So, what about the return of low-rise jeans? I think it’s just around the corner.

In reality, the high-waisted, skinny jean trend has lasted way longer than most fashion trends. The change happened in the mid-2000s, meaning the high-waisted, skinny jeans look has been around more than a decade and a half. That’s an eternity in fashion!

A new look is well overdue, and it seems Gen Z is leading the way to a new, yet old, look that mirrors the 1990s.

Retailers are bringing back the 1990s

American fashion retailer Forever 21 strives to be on the cutting-edge of what young shoppers are looking for in fashion. Now, they’re confirming the return-to-the-1990s trend. On Feb. 19, 2021, Forever 21 sent out an email to their mailing list with the subject head, “No Side-Parts or Skinny Jeans Allowed.” I opened the email, and it read, “The iconic trends of the ’90s are back and more stylish than ever,” listing items such as platforms, layered necklaces, crew socks, mini backpacks and butterfly clips. Rejoice!

However, it seems most retailers haven’t caught on to skinny jeans being on the way out. A recent online search for flared and low-rise jeans came up with a few options, but overwhelmingly, most of the jeans were still skinny.

Plus, I’ve heard that flared and low-rise jeans are coming back for years now, to no avail. So, I might just be getting my hopes up.

But, I have a feeling that that time is different. After all, Gen Z is the new focus of the fashion and retail world, so they’re calling the shots. If it so happens that they make this a low-rise, flared jeans life, I’ll be forever grateful.

Either way, I’m getting out my old low-rise, flared jeans, throwing them in the washer and willing this trend back into existence. If I’m the only one, so be it, but I’m sick of being a low-rise, flared girl in a high-waisted, skinny jeans world!

Your low-rise, flared jeans want you back.

Related: Working from home these days? Check out these six ways to brighten up a home office!