The challenge for most retailers is getting consumers to buy one more pair of jeans. For suppliers it's about getting a little better margins on those jeans, while for consumers it’s all about finding a better fitting pair of jeans.
Can we make jeans that meet the increasingly high standards that consumers are setting while at the same making them a more profitable category at retail and thus helping to reduce some of the price pressure upstream?
Thanks to ongoing R&D from INVISTA, we can.
At a recent seminar Jean Hegedus, INVISTA’s Global Business Director - Denim and Wovens, revealed that recent research showed that consumers around the world agreed that jeans were one of the most difficult apparel items to shop for. “Consumers said the it was difficult to find jeans that fit them well in the hips, seat and waist,” said Ms. Hegedus, adding “One of consumers’ biggest frustrations is knowing what style suits them best.”
This corroborated with similar findings from Inside Fashion Consumer Lab, which reflected that fit was the number one area of dissatisfaction amongst both female and male consumers. “While we heard a wide variety of complaints related to issues about fit, the most prevalent was from women with curvier body types who repeatedly said that it was nearly impossible for them to find jeans that fit them really well,” said Jane Singer, Director and Head of Market Intelligence at Inside Fashion.
“The problem is that when consumers can’t find a pair of jeans that they want, they often buy a pair they don’t really like or leave without buying anything,” said Ms. Hegedus. Neither outcome bodes well for the denim industry.
The Technology Behind Great Fitting Jeans
To help solve these fit challenges, INVISTA has done extensive studies on the movement of the human body. What the company learned from these studies has helped them to evolve their LYCRA® fiber technology so that it can help fabrics mimic the way the body moves and thus provide a more second skin-like performance to the wearer. “LYCRA® fiber appears to be a single continuous thread, but actually it's a bundle of a few tiny filaments joined together,” explained Raymond Leung, Asia Pacific End Use Research Manager, INVISTA.
One of INVISTA’s remarkable innovations is the LYCRA® T400® fiber, which is a bi-component fiber that has two different polymers in each filament. The differential shrinkage between the two polymers gives LYCRA® T400® fiber its excellent stretch and recovery properties. Its recovery properties are so unique that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) granted it a unique generic: elasterell-p, while in Europe BISFA granted INVISTA the generic: elastomultiester.
“INVISTA’s performance fibers provide a tangible value that people can touch and feel,” said Peter Guo, Marketing Director & Product Manager at Texhong (China) Investment Co., Ltd.
The results of this were being realized at the mill level said Amy Wang, general manager at Advance Denim. “People want more comfort and performance in jeans, and INVISTA’s fibers provide the technology to create denim fabric with outstanding functional properties,”
“Besides making fit and comfortable jeans with LYCRA® fiber, we use THERMOLITE® IR fiber to make jeans that have warming properties. These jeans are two degrees warmer than normal jeans in cold weather,” said Ms. Wang.
INVISTA also collaborates with the industry to develop new products. For example, the company worked with Advance Denim by applying LYCRA® HYBRID technology to develop knitted stretch denim that looks like a woven fabric.
Better Materials Means Better Sales and Profits
INVISTA’s research showed that women around the world would pay more for a ‘perfect pair’ of jeans. This alone should be incentive for the denim sector to shift some of its focus from making jeans ‘cheaper’ to making them ‘better’.
The proof of this was demonstrated recently by retailer American Eagle Outfitters who introduced a line of jeans that feature LYCRA® dualFX® technology. According to American Eagle Outfitters, by improving the quality of its jeans, they were able to rebuild jeans sales and profit margins.
A prominent UK retailer achieved similar results when they used fabric made with LYCRA® BEAUTY fiber. Consumer satisfaction rocketed - and so did sales and profits.
“We use many of INVISTA’s fiber and technologies, including LYCRA® dualFX® technology, LYCRA® BEAUTY fiber and COOLMAX® fiber in our products. We produce yarn, which is a very basic product. INVISTA has helped us to transform a commodity-type of product into a branded product that buyers and consumers recognize and trust. Their fibers add performance to the yarn, while also adding greater perceived valueto the final product,” Mr. Guo added.
“Right now the consumer has too many choices and has become confused. Branded ingredients like LYCRA® fiber help to differentiate certain garments, while also guaranteeing a high level of quality and performance,” said Mr. Guo. “This helps reduce barriers to purchasing.”