How We Fit Test

So far, we've had more than 250 people sign up to be fit testers! Of those 250, I met with 40 in person (mostly due to time and proximity) across three different rounds. For those that didn't get to help with fit testing this time (oh, yes, there WILL be other opportunities! ๐Ÿ˜‰), I wanted to give y'all a glimpse into what the fit test is like.

Me with a fully-loaded car, ready for socially-distanced fit testing!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn't possible for me to run a fit test session the way most brands do. A typical fit test usually involves multiple people, indoors, within six feet of each other, and I wasn't comfortable with that. So I had to get creative! Rest assured that all fit tests were done with health and safety as the top priority. Masks were worn at all times, there was plenty of hand sanitizer available, and no more than one fit tester participated at a time. To maintain our distance, there was a lot of show and tell, followed by taking pictures and furious writing of notes. I did everything I could to make it as silly and fun as possible, and I like to think I succeeded ๐Ÿ˜„

The fit test itself consisted of three main parts: measurements, initial impressions, and the best part: trying on the pants!

Measurements

Data is paramount, so to get accurate quantitative data, I took measurements. Using elastic and measuring tape, I guide each fit tester on how to measure themselves. Yes, it's awkward when you're doing it by yourself. But doing it with another person? Now it's silly ๐Ÿ˜Š Fortunately, I was able to get consistent measurements from everyone, going beyond waist, hip, and inseam. These measurements were not only useful in making adjustments to the pants, but they're also how I'm creating the size chart (coming soon!).

A small example of the many, many notes from fit testing!

Initial Impressions

Next, it's time to get folks' opinions. For each fit test, I brought a stack of pants, each of a different size/style, and each with a unique combination of details. I asked fit testers to comment on color combinations, design details, and feature functionality. The reality is that when you see these pants online or in the store, first impressions matter! This kind of qualitative data helps me identify what details need to stick around and what should go the way of the dodo.

Trying on the Pants

Finally, it's time for the catwalk! The fit tester tries on a pair of pants that seem like they might fit correctly, based on their measurements. (I didn't always get it right, y'all - I'm learning, too!) Their job is to walk around, do some squats, pretend to scramble over some rocks... if it's something they would normally do in their pants, I wanted them to do it in these! All the while, I'm taking notes - where is it pinching? Where is it rubbing? What feels good? Is the waistband easy to adjust? Are the legs too long? Both qualitative and quantitative data come out of this section, and my engineering brain LOVES it.

Socially-distant fit testingโ€”so much fun!

Sometimes fit testers try a different size or a different fit style. This is great! With more information, I gained an even better understanding of how it's not enough to get waist and hip measurements, and how there needs to be more information passed on to you, the customer, to ensure that you have the best chance of success when choosing your size.

I also took lots of pictures, so that I can look back and see the common issues across sizes and shapes. After the first round of fit testing, for example, it turns out 80% of folks felt that the legs were too wide. And sure enough, they were! So the second round of prototypes have narrower legs, and folks think they're great ๐ŸŽ‰

And that's it! When you finally get a pair of Ponderosa Pants, please know that so many people took part in their creation. It's because of the fit testers that we have two distinct fit styles, there's now a key ring and a zippered pocket, and the cuffs can be rolled up.

Soon, you'll start hearing from fit testers and their own experiences - stay tuned!