Sizing Up Innovation ~ Jockey
By Ali Cudby
In the past week or so, there has been a lot of reporting and commentary about Jockey’s new patented Volumetric Fit Kit for bras. Whether you carry the brand in your store or not, Jockey’s approach is truly innovative. As a retailer, there’s tremendous value in understanding the innovation – if only so that you can respond to your customers’ questions when they arise.
What is it? The kit is, essentially, comprised of two elements: first, a color-coded numeric measuring tape, and second, a set of 10 plastic cups of various sizes. They look a little bit like nesting bowls. The kit comes with instructions and is packaged in a cute little mesh lingerie bag. Customers order the kit for around $20, which is then applied to the cost of a bra.
When the kit arrives, customers assess band size with their handy measuring tape – and the size is the size. No more worries about adding “plus four” to band size or not. Band size ranges from 30 to 42.
The cups are labeled 1-10. To figure out the one with the best fit, simply drop a breast into each progressive cup until customers have the best match, without either spillage or gaping. It’s pretty straight forward.
Customers end up with a size like 3/36 or 8/42.
Then, Jockey offers five bras (two soft cup and three contour) in 55 sizes. Not every band and cup combination is offered – and, in fact, when I went to order my bra, I was on the line between two band sizes, and they did not offer my band/cup combo in the smaller band size.
What I love about this system is the fact that it decouples band and cup. We no longer have to worry about the interrelation of band and cup, and what changing one will do to fit for the other. I’m so programmed to make that translation, and it was freeing to simply identify band, identify cup and go from there. That’s the crux of the innovation, and it’s great. I can see this being adopted by other brands as a standard, because it eliminates one of the most confusing aspects of fitting for customers. I also appreciate the straightforward band measurement. It’s awfully pleasant to remove the guesswork when it comes to the “plus-four” approach.
Actually, the fact that Jockey is going in the direction of a more personalized fit- approach shows the impact of independent boutiques and the focus on fit you provide for your customers. It validates the emphasis fit stores put on an individual woman’s needs.
Some have complained about the limited sizes, styles and colors, and I think that’s somewhat unfair to Jockey. This is a mainstream brand that has taken significant strides with this launch, particularly on the size front. The 55 sizes they offer is a real expansion. Testing the waters with limited inventory is a reasonable and prudent business move on their end. Get it right, THEN expand the product range.
Others have complained about ordering the fit kit only to find that Jockey doesn’t carry their size. It’s disappointing for customers to get excited about something new and then find they don’t fit in – literally. Jockey will help itself tremendously by being transparent about the sizes they offer and immediately refunding customers’ money for these situations.
Finally, some customers have been unhappy with the price tag for these bras. At $60, that’s more than the average price for a Jockey bra. Full Disclosure: I have not seen the bras themselves yet. However, quality costs. Lifting and shaping larger breasts takes more engineering. Higher end materials are more expensive. I have no issue with a $60 price tag, and absolutely have an expectation that the quality will be in line with the price. At the end of the day, the innovation alone is worthy of discussion in this forum and I look forward to seeing that critical product when it arrives.
There are a few things I wish Jockey did differently. I’m not sure why they offer a color-based band system and then a numeric band size. Why not order by color – it seems like it would be easier. When I went through my fitting process, I called the customer service number for help. It would have been nice to have a dedicated line for Volumetric Fit…or even a dedicated button to push on their phone system. Instead, fit was lumped in with “all other questions,” which seems to undermine the excellent work the company has done to launch this product. That’s an easy fix.
The team answering questions in the customer service center was able to respond to very basic fit questions, but seemed confused when I went beyond the basics to ask about fit technique. I called a couple of times and spoke to different reps and found myself thinking that some additional fit training may be beneficial, especially as the company expands into a new range of sizes. Larger cups come with fit challenges that Jockey may not have experienced previously.
Overall, I’m thrilled by the concept implied in this innovation. Anything that helps women appreciate the value of fit validates our collective work. And once women appreciate what fit can do, they will begin looking for prettier options…and that will send customer through the doors of independent boutiques everywhere. From that vantage point, Jockey’s innovation a win for everyone.