The global jeans market is set to become a US$59.46bn opportunity by 2022. But with so much choice available, how can jeans brands and retailers remain relevant to the consumer? Specialist consultancy Alvanon has put together a ‘cheat sheet’ for brands, summarising the top five ways to execute great, consistent fit.
By 2022 the global jeans market will be worth US$59.46bn, up from $56.55bn in 2017, according to just-style’s ‘Global market review of denim and jeanswear – forecasts to 2022‘. But with more and more players coming online and a vast choice available within the market, staying relevant to the consumer is one of the biggest challenges facing jeans-makers.
One thing is clear, however: and that is the importance of a good fit.
According to apparel size and fit specialist Alvanon, 42% of consumers worry about finding jeans that fit well. And a further 85% of customers are loyal to a denim brand because it fits well.
“Consumers face this problem every season, as brands adopt new design trends,” explains Alvanon’s senior consultant Jackie Lewis. “As an industry, how can we best deliver fashion, newness and also democratise fit? We should listen to the voice of our customers, as they claim 52% of brands still don’t make clothes for real bodies or people.”
Here she shares five tips to help jeans-makers execute consistent fit.
#1: Define your target customer and their body shape.
Who are you selling to, or do you want to sell to? Start with the demographic of your core customer – where they live, age, ethnic and socioeconomic group. This important data will help to segment the customer profile and in turn, will drive out a body shape standard.
For example: 55% of the woman in Europe have an ‘average’ body shape in that their bust to waist to hip measurements are well proportioned, meaning they can wear almost any style and look good. But what about the rest of the population? A further 30% of women have a ‘straight’ body shape (with little waist shaping), while the remaining 15% are curvy.
While it makes great business sense to focus on creating products that fit most people, this still only represents just over half the female population.
#2: Understand which sizes sell
It is difficult to talk about standard sizing for jeans as it differs from brand to brand. The key to success is maintaining consistency for the consumer. Work to standard measurements as guide rules and understand what ‘loose’, ‘straight’, ‘slim’ and ‘skinny’ mean for your brand in terms of core measurements and sizing. This approach drives sales and minimises returns.
Whether you sell your jeans by waist and inside leg or by numeric garment size, communicating sizing to the consumer in a way that is informative, concise and engaging, is crucial. The customer must be able to choose the right size with ease.
#3: Know your fabrics
The focus on more sustainable materials and denim manufacturing processes continues to pick up pace, with recycled, recyclable or low-impact materials becoming key ingredients. Product functionality and durability ensures fabrics are designed to last and keep their look and colour longer. But with so much choice it can be difficult to select the right fabric; get it wrong and the impact on fit is disastrous.
The key from a fit consistency angle is to categorise fabrics based on weight and modulus (stretch properties) – for example, rigid, comfort stretch, super stretch. The other factors are aesthetic, and while these will alter the look of the garment they will not directly impact the fit.
Always fit garments in the correct wash; there can be a big difference in fit between a rinse, classic stone wash or vintage washed garment.
#4: Maintain consistent measurements and pattern blocks
Consistency is key to keeping customers loyal season after season. Trends may change but the basic body measurements and core shape standards should remain largely the same. An existing pattern block can be adapted to incorporate seasonal trends, with the body fit remaining constant in terms of shaping through the rise and crotch. This avoids reinventing the wheel each season, the consumer has consistency and your ability to get the new style to market faster is increased. Focus on style and adapting rise position and leg shape.
To support brands in achieving great body fit, Alvanon has just launched a new men’s form specifically for fitting denim. The form has been designed to reflect the way men stand for better read of balance and rise angles, it has a deeper indent at the back rise, so fabric doesn’t bunch up or fold in at the seat.
#5: Love your winners
Never forget your best sellers. Update in-line with trends but maintain the core shapes that your customer returns to each season. Skinny jeans still represent 58% of women’s jeans. If you’re a denim retailer, skinnies are your core. What is exciting is the movement elsewhere, with cropped, culotte, mom and wide styles all gaining in terms of popularity.
All things considered, it’s quite easy to offer newness and consistency of fit if you keep the customer front and centre of all your decisions.