Some Small Sense

Shopping experiences and store reviews by a very petite woman. Indeed, it sucks. 4'10", 87 pounds, and full grown - is it a surprise I have trouble finding clothes?

August 05, 2006

Zafu - A New Approach to Jean Shopping?

Zafu is an interactive website that helps to "match jeans to you" for women. It literally launched this past Tuesday and is a novel approach to the problem of finding the perfect pair of jeans. By answering questions about how current jeans fit, your stats, and what you'd like your jeans to do for you (such as make your "butt look perky"), it makes suggestions about what brands of jeans would be the best for your needs.

This is a fabulous concept - but in my unhappy extreme case (see third picture), I'm out of bounds for a great many things (weight, jean size, and, heck, the other questions too!) that have an effect upon suggestion accuracy. Alas, while I'm sure that had anything really been available in my size Zafu would have eagerly dished out recommendations, I already know that the smallest offerings are too big.

But for the rest of you, it may prove to be a great shopping tool. While most of the jeans are designer or specialty brands - like 7 For All Mankind or Diesel, it also offers cheaper or more modest selections such as Chadwick's or Old Navy. I've noticed that the trend level tends to be mostly based on rise height (what a surprise right?). Any age group is welcome to use the tool (although everyone over 46 is lumped into one category!), although it assumes you are of a normal adult size.

When you're done with the survey, a detailed list of specific brands and models is given. What is incredibly wonderful about this is that specific reasons are given about why the recommendations have been given.

Zafu profits through a commission based model for every purchase made through its referral. I can see an online service-based model a little harder to manage than in person. High end stores can generate off (but can't guarantee) loyalty through personal attention and because goods are literally in your hand rather than in the proverbial bush. The good things about a product are much more upfront and personal, and sales pressure is much higher. Online shopping is much more analytical and price focused, since an extra 5 minutes of hunting might get you a much better deal.

All in all, I really like this site, even though I can't use it! (Hey, that must mean something right???) Users have an opportunity to save their information, both as a boon to the customer (if they are happy with the advice of the site) and to the company (for repeat customers). The comments and suggestions that Zafu gives are based off actual user studies, so it's not just force-fed marketing by the brands themselves. I'd love to see them add children's sizes - some designer labels definitely cater to the teenage crowd. Zafu should definitely do this, as the 'tween' segment is growing rapidly. And who doesn't believe that status and body conscious teenagers (and us poor souls who never grew out of that size range) wouldn't want to have these tools available too?

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Anonymous Anderkoo said...

"Zafu profits through a commission based model for every purchase made through its referral. I can see an online service-based model a little harder to manage than in person."

Still, the problem with this model is that it's one-shot, right? I mean, once you've found The Jeans, do you really need to go back to Zafu? They better be getting a commission based on the lifetime value of the customer, not just the next order!

How does this thing work from a technology / data POV? Is there such a thing as "body shape XML"? (If not, I'm sure the pr0n industry is working on it).

August 05, 2006 7:51 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Particular style numbers or models do not linger very long. Seldom do fashion houses produce exactly the same style year after year. So, there is always new merchandise to be churned out, new fashions for consumers to purchase. And of course, we women are supposed to keep purchasing new things to stay current!

I am sure every time a new style comes out or gets retired, Zafu's "inventory" is updated. There are plenty of people that don't particularly want to bother froogling around for a better deal. Zafu's service is providing a snapshot, in time, with detailed commentary for all jeans available then. So for women who stay on the edge of what is new, they're actually not going to get better pricing anyway since sale pricing occurs only after a few months of product introduction. Of course, no reason for you NOT to jot down the styles for reference in a few months.

As far as the technology standpoint goes, there are already techniques to have 3 dimensional models cast of both people and clothing (I believe clothes are constructed in something similar to CAD...but I'm not a fashion designer so I can't be any more specific). These models, of course, can be inputted or outputted in whatever file format the software company uses.

August 05, 2006 8:21 PM  
Blogger jj said...

Wow. It worked for me and it actually produced a list of jeans including some that I wear, and some designer jeans that I've tried on and liked, but passed on the cost. However, it also suggested some jeans that it said run "true to size" that I know run large. :-P

August 08, 2006 7:30 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

That's great! And as for the out of bound cases, perhaps Zafu couldn't get people to try on every pair of jeans? At that point, they probably have to rely upon the brand's size claims - which are always off.

August 08, 2006 8:12 PM  

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