We’re always trying to make sure Patagonia Quality is the best it can be. Sometimes we accomplish this, and sometimes we don’t.
It’s not always easy to admit when you’ve let something slip; but a relentless stream of customer feedback and product returns helps turn our attention to those things that need fixing. Patagonia’s Quality Team helps keep our eye on the ball. They are the team whose sole purpose is to continually fine-tune the moving target of Quality, be it production processes, construction standards, integrity of materials, fit, color, or overall function and performance.
The Quality Team’s R.J. Hosking is responsible for communicating the Quality Team’s work and progress with the rest of Patagonia’s employees. He’s the voice of our intra-company Quality Blog (yeah, we’re a little blog-happy). Recently, he informed us of the Quality Team’s work to better dial in the fit of our products.
This is an issue near and dear to our customers’ hearts. It stands to reason, then, that our customers should be part of the conversation. We really want to know what you think about this topic. But first, please read on for an update on the Quality Team’s findings regarding the fit of our Fall 2007 line. You might be surprised to learn what we’re already busy working on.
[Photos by Rob Varela / Star staff R.J. Hosking, Patagonia quality analyst, and fit specialist Kena Gonzalez check the company’s R4 fleece jackets on the shelves at the Great Pacific Ironworks store in Ventura. Read the story here.]
Dialing in fit is one of the most complex and interesting tasks of Patagonia’s development and design process. You may ask why we nail the fit perfectly in some garments and then miss it so far in others. One of the main reasons we have fit issues across product lines is actually caused by attempts to correct the fit of a product. Sounds ironic I know, but when we attempt to revise the fit of our products we inevitability complicate matters by changing the fit of only the new and revised styles without changing the fit of carry-in styles (a "carry-in" style is one that we’ve sold in previous seasons, and are offering again–unchanged–in the current season). This causes variability between styles within the same line as we introduce new styles and revised styles–both with our new intended fit–while offering the carry-in styles, whose fits have not been updated. Historically, we attempt to address the fit of our lines every 3-4 years, so older carry-in products will fit differently than new and revised styles. Factor in the many fit readjustments and directions over many years and what you get is a distinct variability in our fit.
There are a number of other reasons why fit is such a tricky endeavor, including: garments not made to our measurement specifications, our intended design not correlating to customer expectations for a given product, failing to communicate the fit (slim, reg, relaxed), not compensating for the nature of the fabric during the construction, internal and external miscommunication, difference in general preference of each customer, etc. These are just a few variables that can affect final product fit.
In order to monitor our fit we keep a close eye on customer reason-for-return data and organize it by season. So how did Fall 2007 (F07) look in terms of fit?
We had an even number of styles running small and running large this season based on returns data, internal feedback, and customer feedback. Our current line has a well-balanced fit ratio compared to previous seasons, meaning that our entire line isn’t generally running "small" or "large." This is good news.
Now it’s a matter of fine-tuning the individual styles with significant fit issues by aligning them to our fit block standards and adjusting the fit accordingly. This is a complicated task because we can’t be rash in our decisions by continually changing the fit of our styles every season. The long term approach is to look at the overall direction of our intended fit for each product line when we consider changing the fit of a particular style. It’s essential that when we do change the fit, we look at customer feedback, returns data, and consider the overall intended fit direction for each product line.
Below is list of F07 styles that are running too small or too large based on returns data. We would like to hear your thoughts or experiences with any of the below styles regarding their fit; we use this feedback to help shape our current and future lines. Rest assured that although tackling fit is a huge project that involves collaboration from many teams, we are working on improving the issues with these styles and the overall consistency of our fit for the entire line.
[Ed Note: because many of these styles are no longer for sale, images are not available. For more specific information on any of the below products, you might try a Google search. Of course, Customer Service is always available for you at: 800-638-6464 or at email@example.com]
F07 styles with significant fit issues:
Styles running small:
32215 – W’S ACTIVE CLASSIC CAMI
50897 – W’S CASHMERE HOODY
21365 – W’S ACTIVE SPORT TOP
26646 – M’S HOODED MONK SWEATSHIRT
56670 – M’S AIMLESS JEANS
27225 – W’S DUALITY JKT
25440 – W’S RE-TOOL SNAP-T
73533 – W’S MAKKA HOODY JKT
23080 – W’S RETRO-X VEST
27060 – W’S ECO RAIN SHELL JKT
55526 – W’S MYSTERY PANTS – LONG
55105 – M’S CORDUROY PANTS
27660 – W’S AUTRAIN COAT
56140 – W’S HEMP MYSTERY PANTS – REG
56150 – W’S HEMP MYSTERY PANTS – LONG
56525 – M’S WORKENDER PANTS – REG
Styles Running Large:
56065 – W’S DENIM SHOP PANTS – REG
56070 – W’S DENIM SHOP PANTS – LONG
55249 – W’S VITALITI PANTS
21620 – W’S CORDALETTE PANTS
56050 – M’S DENIM WORKENDER PANTS – SH
74189 – W’S MARY PEN SCOOP TOP
58425 – W’S HEMP MYSTERY SKIRT
55560 – M’S DUCK PANTS – SHORT
68250 – K’S DAS PARKA
58440 – W’S VITALITI SKIRT
55566 – M’S DUCK PANTS – REG
75058 – W’S WAILER SKIRT
20350 – M’S FREE BOX JKT
71727 – W’S TOSH CREW NECK SWEATER