How Would You Change the Premium Denim Industry?

by Jaime on March 20, 2010

Between the Reader Survey (thank you to all of you who have filled it out… there have been more than 100 responses, and it’s really going to shape the future of the site as well as my contact with brands on your behalf) and the emails, comments, tweets and questions I’ve received about Kristy’s amazing post, “Is there Size Discrimination in Premium Denim?”, I realized that I needed to give you a place to speak out.

I’m just one person. Sure, I have a LOT of experience with jeans and a weird, Rainman-esque ability to help people find the pair for them, but I’m still just one person. And while I have a lot of interactions with denim brands, there are still things that I would change if I could get them to follow me (or, you know, give me the capital to start my own line). Here are my five.

1. Broader Size Range: I’ve heard every excuse in the book as to why brands don’t make plus sized jeans. They don’t sell, they’re not marketable, etc. But, here’s the thing: they don’t sell because YOU DON’T MAKE THEM. They’re not marketable because you’ve made it impossible for women to believe they can buy your product… they’ve given up on you. If consumers feel like brands are too interested in aesthetics instead of giving the customer what they want, we’re not going to buy. It’s a business; I don’t expect you to lose money to make me happy and I’m not saying that the customer is always right… but come on. Ideally, a denim brand should run, in Euro sizing, from 22-40. If a US size 12 is the new average, you’re missing a HUGE demographic by stopping at a size 30 or 32. And small girls shouldn’t have to get jeans taken in because you ignore them, too.

2. Inseam Options: I’ve complained about this until I’m blue in the face. I’m short. So are many other people… in fact, my height at 5’4 is the societal norm here in the US. So, why is it that brands don’t get that? I’m not telling you to get rid of the 34-35″ inseams, just add some options. In a perfect world, there would be a minimum of five inseam options: 28″, 30″, 32″, 34″ and 36″. Hell, I’d probably even throw in a 38″ on a rare occasion, so that my model-tall girlfriends don’t have to wear flats and still look like they’re rocking a pair of highwaters.

3. More Interaction with Customers: There’s this cloak of secrecy in the denim industry, and I understand a lot of it: brands stealing style and wash ideas, trademark secrets, fit model exclusivity are just a few of them. But, here’s the thing: just because you think your competitors are your enemies, doesn’t mean that’s how you should treat your customers. They pay for your product and, if you do the right things, will be totally loyal. I’ve seen it happen both ways – brands screw up and fix the issue, or claim to be victims and treat you like persona non grata. The latter is not the way to build a successful brand. Ask what we want out of our jeans. I am willing to talk your ear off, and I know there are many others who have something to say too.

4. Universal Sizing: I just did an interview with a newspaper the other day about vanity sizing and all the problems women face when it comes to getting the right pair of jeans. This is STUPID. I’m not saying that you should make your cuts and fits all exactly the same… what I am saying is that there shouldn’t be a four size range between brands. I can wear anything from a 23 to a 27. It’s insane. I understand body shape changes and creating a brand/cut for a certain figure, but come on. Get together, decide on the ratios and make this happen ASAP.

5. Tell Everything about the Jeans: I’m kind of torn about this because neglecting to share every little detail is why people flock to my site – since I’m the only person doing these in-depth reviews – and flood my inbox with hundreds of questions a week. But, I can’t write about every brand. I don’t have the time and I don’t see the benefits, other than being the wealth of denim information I already am, to help you get your brand free publicity while I walk away feeling used. So, let’s pose a hypothetical: you share ALL sizing references for every numerical size and every pair/cut/wash/style you make. I want – and this is going to be one extreme list - inseams, size range, ideal body type for specific cut, rise (front and back), waist circumference, hip circumference, knee break, style of cut (i.e. bootcut, skinny, flare, etc) opening at hem, width of hem, fabric content, fabric weight, amount of pockets and back pocket size. And that’s just fit/fabric… I also want cost, detailing, distressing, country of origin, retailers, wash name, cut name, brand background and any other details you can give because I’m probably missing a few. An informed customer is a repeat customer. No ifs, ands or buts.

Let’s face it: I’m kind of an ideal denim client. I’m thin (and short, so that part isn’t so ideal) but still curvy, and I like quality over quantity (not to say I don’t have quantity, but you know what I mean). I’m pretty brand loyal, and I share my personal opinions – good or bad – with thousands of people every week. So, while what I say is important from a PR/Sales/SEO perspective (these brands should be hiring my denim-clad behind to be their creative consultants!), I’m fairly easy to please within their marketable desires.

So, let’s forget about me. Pretend that you’re the one in a room with the five biggest names (or the five brands you care about most) in the denim industry, and you can say anything and everything you want to them. What’s important to you, and what do you think should be changed today?

People in the industry are on this site every single day. They read your comments (just like I read your comments!), subscribe to my emails, share the posts and information with their peers/colleagues so despite what you may think, you DO have a voice. So, use it!

I don’t care if you want to say that you wish there was more philanthropy or that they’d give you free jeans (but, let’s try to be constructive here, okay?), but say it now. Be anonymous. Be loud. Write a post and share it with the world. Email me and keep it between us. Because there’s one BIG reason why you NEED to speak up:

Nothing will ever change if we stick to the status quo.


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