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How Alvanon Helped Patagonia Revamp Its Denim Line

Patagonia is a pioneer in sustainable fashion, but when the company decided to relaunch its denim collection in 2013, it turned to fashion consulting firm Alvanon to help create the best fit for the most bodies.

Emily Robertson Hood, Alvanon senior consultant, spoke to the FIT Global Fashion Management program school of graduate studies earlier this month on Alvanon’s integral role in Patagonia’s denim rebranding. “You almost need to take your PhD in denim in order to work for a denim brand,” Robertson Hood said.

Alvanon’s consulting services specialize in the product development process, sizing and fit strategy, technical design and supply chain execution. The company collects and analyzes data, among which is the brand’s prize 3D body scanning device, to inform and drive change in apparel product development practices and processes.

According to Alvanon, 51 percent of consumers say brands don’t make clothes for real bodies, while 59 percent of consumers said garment fit is not always consistent within one brand. Those statistic didn’t fit well with Patagonia, which values fit as much as functionality. The outdoor brand’s target consumer desires jeans that fit and can withstand numerous activities.

For Patagonia, Alvanon took a multi-prong approach, examining data collected through data analytics like sales by size, return metrics, competitor offerings, online reviews, social media, and the company’s prize 3D body scanners, and gave the information to Patagonia for the company to apply when designing the newly launched jeans.

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The company also looked at consumer’s specific comments regarding fit, and how customers ranked jeans. Shoppers’ most common comments centered on Patagonia’s jeans needing to be less restricting, and allowing for more movement.

“If the customer is wearing their denim hiking, there should be freedom of movement for individual wearers who might have muscled legs,thighs, etc.,” said Robertson Hood. “Part of functionality comes from fabric performance, too. The brand wanted to incorporate whatever fibers could benefit movement and breathability, while at the same time interact with the sustainable cotton Patagonia is well known for.”

The company then used the information to help curate the fits and styles most likely to resonate with Patagnoia’s consumers, giving nine options for men’s and nine options for women’s, which Patagonia later cut down to three options for men’s and three for women’s.

For women, the three final styles were the W’s Slim, W’s Performance and W’s Performance Short jeans. The men’s collection included the M’s Performance Straight Fit, M’s Performance Regular Fit and the M’s Performance Twill Jeans.

In addition to looking at how Patagonia’s competitors tackled fit, size and pricing, Alvanon identified ideal fit models through data previously collected for the company.

For example, the average Patagonia female shopper tends to have muscular legs, and more of a straight shaped body. According to Robertson Hood, a straight body shape makes up around one-third of the population. Patagonia then designed jeans that would entice this type of shopper.

“As functionality is a key driver for Patagonia, they wanted to ensure that their denim line functioned in terms of customer wearing needs,” said Robertson Hood.