Recently, Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. kindly agreed to make a Facebook post on behalf of TOUGHER – the new brand of women’s workwear I am launching. The post explained that I am looking for a more authentic ‘fit model’ – a woman who works in skilled trades to critique the fit of our workpants and put them through the paces to learn how they perform in the field. In the post, I also included a link to a survey to ask other questions that will guide decision making in regards to fabric color. As a startup, I will be limited in the array of colors I can purchase ahead of manufacturing, and I would like the first pant to be the most desirable color.
To the women on OTI’s Facebook page who took the time to leave comments or fill out our survey – thank you! It is clear that women in skilled trades are as frustrated as I am with the poor fit and few options in the current workwear options for women. In fact, this is the very reason I founded TOUGHER in 2015!
The measurements we asked for our fit model was a hot button issue for some, and I certainly understand why! I have found that of the 400 women I have interviewed nationwide, the silhouettes of women’s bodies vary widely and sizing is a common source of angst. I commonly receive impassioned requests from women for shorter/longer inseams; garments cut for curvy/no-curves women, and everything in between. It makes perfect sense. There is no set shape and size for women, either!
My strategy to address this has been to collect body measurements from women in trades or DIYers on which to base TOUGHER’s sizing and fit. To date, my patternmaker and I have identified at least two fit styles to create for our consumers during our first phase (curvy/athletic and straight-cut). We also made the decision to buck the national apparel company trend by refusing to make our mid-point a size 4 or 6. Instead, we selected what may be regarded as a size 8 or 10 as the mid-point for the fit model, and then our sizes can be expanded up or down for the other sizes. It’s important to note that we will be using the same commonsense sizing men have long enjoyed, which uses exact waist and inseam measurements. Vanity sizing has no place with TOUGHER. Our women are practical and precise in their fields, and so are we.
That initial Facebook post on OTI’s page seeking a fit model did not yield anyone in the Portland, Oregon area. Yet, despite the difficulty of finding women in skilled trades who are willing to prototype our garments, we will continue to press on until she steps forward! (Hint hint…). An easier path would be to simply hire a professional fit model as many other brands do. However, this person would not represent the women we serve. Women in the trades put their apparel through its paces day in and day out at 10+ hours each work day. The women we serve have muscles from squatting, lifting, dragging, and carrying equipment, livestock, and the like. They gain, lose, and maintain weight depending on the season, terrain, project, and time of the month. Therefore, our fit for women who work with their hands will likely be different from everyday apparel.
In short, we are striving for authenticity in not only what products we offer women, but even how we size those products. Our success in this depends on women willing to step forward and share what they need. Large companies are difficult to communicate with and prompt change from. TOUGHER is different.
Help us build a brand women are served well by. We’re listening and we very much want to hear from you!
Founder & CEO, TOUGHER