With the acceleration of e-commerce, it has become more important than ever for fashion brands to ensure they are bringing inventory to retail that is the right fit, style and size — giving consumers peace of mind and confidence as they gravitate to personalized online shopping experiences.
This is especially true for denim brands, as it is a size-intensive category that requires different measurements for various fabrics. Research shows that an average of six pairs of jeans will be disregarded on every shopping trip. However, it is often challenging for brands to get accurate and in-depth information about how specific designs perform with shoppers, making developing and improving future items increasingly tricky.
“As a consumer-facing brand that started with wholesale, we were largely at the mercy of the data that our stores would share and would try to make the best with that information,” said Grace Na, founder of denim brands Pistola and Cosmic Blue Love.
“We learned that different retailers have different audiences and therefore needed different products,” she continued. “Some share similar clientele; however, if we as a manufacturing denim leg are committed to a partnership and want it to grow, we need to tailor our fabrics, fits and style for the client we’re servicing.”
How Pistola optimized its designs using customer insights
Since Pistola began selling on Stitch Fix in 2016, the team has accessed immediate customer feedback on different styles through the platform’s vendor portal. The proprietary portal helps Stitch Fix brand partners analyze brand and product performance down to an SKU level, including detailed data and customer feedback on style, fabric, fit and price.
Whereas other retail partners share return rates and sell-through rates with wholesalers, Stitch Fix clients also share general feedback on whether they like or dislike an item they receive. These aggregate ratings give its brand partners more insights into style preferences and needs. For Pistola, the like/love scores are critical for understanding what styles and fits work or don’t work to improve future designs.
Pistola used this client feedback to determine that its largest sizes ran smaller than customers expected. After receiving that feedback, the team adjusted the fit on those sizes to be larger to more accurately reflect client expectations. In other cases, Pistola would see if a new fabric or silhouette received positive feedback before designing new variations with that specific fabric, fit, etc.
“The customer feedback about size and fit, and being able to optimize on that to correct future merchandise, has been very appealing,” Na said. “Analyzing the fabrications and the fits and what works for Stitch Fix and what doesn’t is what helped us test and really build out a robust offering of bottoms that has performed really well for this clientele.”
Introducing a new denim line tailored to customer feedback
While working with Stitch Fix, Na and her team identified a gap in the market for polished, sophisticated jeans at a more affordable price point than Pistola’s current offerings.
In response, Pistola introduced Cosmic Blue Love, a denim line available exclusively on Stitch Fix. The line is centered around stretch fabrications and styles in soft, comfortable and buttery fabrics.
“We have an entirely separate team that is designing, fitting, producing and analyzing the data to create a group of great fitting, fashion-forward products that we believe the customer will enjoy,” Na said.
Since its launch, Cosmic Blue Love has leveraged Stitch Fix’s customer insights to align on fit, styles and affordability and iterate different designs. In one instance, according to Na, the like feedback helped her team determine that the fit of a specific style changed based on the denim wash used. Na has also found that customers prefer the fit to be looser for styles that come in corduroy fabrics.
Teams have also been successful in applying customer insights to both brands. As Na explained, if acid-washed jeans from Pistola garner positive customer feedback, Cosmic Blue Love will consider introducing jeans in the same wash. However, the material and price point may differ.
“Over the course of months and years, we’ve truly gained an understanding of what fabrics, what fits, what types of fit in specific types of fabrications, what type of stretch the client wants,” Na said. “We’ve really become the master of that at Stitch Fix.”
How data and collaboration are fueling brand growth
By applying customer insights to their designs, both Pistola and Cosmic Blue Love have found success. Cosmic Blue Love has developed into a size-inclusive brand, with both plus and petite options on Stitch Fix. In fiscal year 2022, Cosmic Blue Love’s pants sales on Stitch Fix increased by 60% compared to fiscal year 2019. Meanwhile, Pistola has introduced additional brands, including sustainable fashion from Daze and Eunina outerwear.
As Pistola and Cosmic Blue Love look to further their growth, Na expects product knowledge and data science to remain at the core of their DNA — especially while continuing to collaborate with Stitch Fix.
“There are different ways we can work together to figure out what shoppers want,” Na said. “Being able to collaborate and work with partners to really understand the data and get each other’s feedback on how an item is coming to fruition is always going to be helpful.”
Sponsored by Stitch Fix