The Challenge

Express had a tremendous opportunity to test the market with a premium product, selvedge denim jeans for men. To test the market for a premium product with the Express label, Express decided to do a pre-sale of 2000 pairs of their signature Rocco jeans made from a high quality Japanese selvedge denim. We decided to create a microsite, with a very specific and targeted email marketing push, to see if our customers were interested in paying more money for a superior product.

When I first heard about this project I was immediately interested as jeans, particularly selvedge jeans, are a big interest of mine (you can see them featured often in my menswear blog Wearsoever). I jumped into the project with some contextual inquiries and user interviews.

 

Contextual inquiry and user interviews

To understand the market and customer mindset I visited several premium stores and interviewed high-end denim shoppers and store associates on what mattered most to them. The two major factors were the inherent quality of selvedge denim and the individuality of breaking in your own pair of jeans. If you don’t know, selvedge denim is untreated. It’s designed to be broken in over several months, or even years. As each pair is broken in they take on the characteristics of each wearer, to the point where the outline of your wallet is in the exact place you always carry it and it’s unique to only you.

Conducting contextual inquiries at a high-end department store (that's me on the right).

A valuable insight came out of these interviews; while the traits of selvedge denim were known to high-end denim shoppers, they were not so common among denim shoppers of lower price points. Most lower-priced denim shoppers thought the sand-blasting and whiskering on fashion jeans were just stylistic choices and didn’t know they were referencing the wear that happens over time with a pair of selvedge jeans. A key component of this experience would be educating the Express shopper on selvedge jeans.

 

Initial sketches to show overall strategy

I broke the structure of the page down like this: 30% of the top of the page (the main message) would be dedicated to the message that these jeans were designed to be customized unique to you. The next 30% of the page would be education on how that happens, a mix of the background of the material and education on the care and crafting of a pair of selvedge jeans. The next 30% of the page would be an affirmation that these jeans were still the same great Express jeans you love, but with a whole new spin. This section was focused on everything that made the “Rocco” fit Express’ best seller. Then, at the very bottom 10% of the page, would be a very subtle call-to-action to pre-order. This experience was all about premium shopping so we wanted to keep the push to buy as minimal as possible. Hopefully, if we did our job, shoppers would be so impressed with the product by the time they got to the bottom of the page we wouldn’t have to work to hard to close the deal.


Wireframes

The concept was approved and I put together wireframes for my creative partners that outlined the overall structure and strategy, making sure that all the content features were optimized for whatever screens the user would be experiencing them in. Photo collections were condensed into easily swipe-able carousels, videos that would appear on desktop screens were swapped out for static images or animated gifs on mobile, and large blocks of educational content were broken down into easily digestible bites.

 

Final design

It would be hard to classify the pre-sale as anything other than a success. The pre-sale was planned to be open for two months, right before the holiday season. We sold out all pre-orders in two weeks. It was incredibly gratifying to work on a project like this that mixed my interest in fashion with my experience as a UX designer, and the best part was to get feedback from customers. The ecommerce team partnered with the store operations teams to personally call pre-order customers in order to get their info for the final delivery and over and over we heard that customers loved the selvedge denim experience and were very excited to get their new jeans.

This project established a precedent that the Express shopper, previously thought to be a discount shopper, would be interested in a higher ticket price item if we could educate them on it’s value. These learnings have since been translated to other parts of the business.

 

Role: User Experience Lead

Project: www.express.com/fashion/selvedge-denim