The whitewash is over and denim is getting serious. Indigo and black shades and treatments will deepen. Added colors will include plum, warm brown, dark red, green and purple.

"The new dark denim for fall provides a clean, contemporary look in not only jeans but in jackets and skirts as well," Lee Company's Patti Holskin said recently at the Men's Fashion Association fall showings in New York.Virtually every denim manufacturer who showed fall and winter lines stressed the importance of darkened indigo and deepest black. They also advised keeping your eye on color, even brown.

But don't get the idea that the new jeans will not have interesting finishes.

"Whitewashed denim has paved the way for a host of innovative finishes," says John Ermatinger, merchandise manager at Levi Strauss & Co. "Look for finishes to evolve into darker denim with a finishing technique called DarkWash."

Instead of a highly processed look, manufacturers will be trying to mimic that natural fade that says, "I've washed these jeans a hundred times."

What's happening in the jeanswear market is also happening in sportswear worldwide, says Jean Driscoll, director of Jeanswear Communications, an association representing major producers of denim, corduroy and other jeansweight fabrics.

"It's a unilateral return to traditional concepts giving us a refreshing break from overwashing and overdyeing."

Features to look for, Ms. Driscoll says, are new pocket stylings, fuller silhouettes, fitted seats and higher, more exaggerated waistlines.

Wrangler's Tom Collins says his company, too, is moving to dark fabrics and finishes. Wranglers have been given such names for fall as Midnight Denim and Moonlight Twist.