With AOS’s new expansion into womenswear, our very first task was to create a base pattern that would build a try-on garment with a good initial fit.
The biggest trend from before was making a try-on garment that fit so poorly it shook a lot of customers’ confidence in their purchase. This posed a serious problem for our women’s collection.
Different from our menswear collections, we don’t have a large enough database to estimate women’s measurements. There’s also much more diversity and range in female body types, making it dangerous to assume anything. Women’s size charts are never the same either. Numbered jean sizes are relative to the company’s formula, and conversions get tricky. I, myself, don’t even wear the proper size. I size up my tees and jeans for a looser fit. And I also find myself wearing men’s clothes most times. So, we couldn't stick with only using the account profile questionnaire we've we have for our male customers.
Luckily, we're able to work with direct body measurements to craft women’s garments. Slowly, we can then begin to see any patterns and trends that’ll become more apparent over time.
We’ve run our women’s base models on a few different people: Dan’s wife Karyn, our head-fitter Morgane, and myself.
And so far, the try-ons have been promising. The back balance is right, the shoulders and lapels are draping really well, and the sleeves are falling nicely.
The main issue is that the pattern is overestimating size. Our trousers have been exceptionally baggy, and the jackets are generally oversized. The aesthetic design of the waistcoat opening, armholes, and front edges also need a bit of work to get them to reflect our AOS image.
When fitting women, we’re aiming for bolder styles and silhouettes to really channel that power-femininity. These patterns will have an edge and a bit of a bite to them. I love that we can do this for women and people looking for something with more flare.
But, throughout the entire process of brainstorming sample designs, selecting fabric, and testing out the factory’s base models, I felt that something was missing.
I noticed that our new try-on garments from AJ incorporate several differences in construction from the former Southwick factory garments.
As a former customer with a couple suits from the old factory, I missed the pattern they had on file for me, which was based on the men’s model. After all, that was the entire reason I looked to AOS to make my garments in the first place.
I started to think back on how I first stumbled upon AOS and why I chose to pull the trigger and buy something.
I wanted a garment that was completely androgynous, and I knew custom could do that.
When I shop, I often like what I see guys wearing, and I want it for myself. But typical women’s garments use modern stretch fabrics and opt for either extremely slim or intentionally oversized fit. I rarely even see jackets with a double rear vent. Trousers are usually high-waisted, and the only choices fall between a pencil slim fit or wide leg. All department store shirts come with darts, oftentimes on the front and back, which push focus on an hour-glass shape—with a thin waist, and accentuated bust and hipline. There are other design details that womenswear neglects completely, like interior jacket pockets, functioning boutonniere holes on lapels, and trousers with deep pockets and anchor buttons to reinforce fly-closure.
What I essentially got with my first AOS suit was a man’s pattern and silhouette reworked to fit my body. Like most men’s garments, AOS’s men’s pattern gives more wearing ease and has a relaxed drape. Jackets sit naturally on the shoulders, and the torso fit is complementary to the body it’s fitting—providing the necessary fabric across larger spaces and tapering where extra fabric isn’t wanted.
This concept—of giving women “reworked” men’s garments—isn’t big in the clothing industry, which is why AOS could definitely pioneer this. So, I asked Dan for another try-on garment, one from the factory’s men’s pattern.
I was curious to see how the men’s pattern would turn out rendered to smaller measurements. And, more importantly, I wanted to see if the feeling—in terms of masculinity—changed between the models. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing out on something the men’s pattern could give me that the women’s didn’t.
The biggest thing I learned with this comparison was the fact that there really isn’t much of a difference between the two patterns.
The construction is nearly identical, give or take a few darts to help the women’s pattern conform to the body’s curves.
Other than the fact that both jackets were oversized for my measurements, the technical construction details were very similar.
All of our jackets have natural, soft construction. And the lapels on both patterns are set to a well-proportioned width and high gorge-line.
Things like jacket length, sleeve width and length, and waist suppression swing toward personal preference details that can be changed during the virtual fitting.
The waistcoat differs the most between the two models.
To start, the neckline on the standard men's pattern sits lower on the sternum than the women's pattern. Similarly, the armhole on the men's gives a little bit more room. (We decided to remove the 6th button on the men's model so that the lower neckline wouldn't cause crowding.)
Both models have back and front darks to conform to the curvature of the waist. The women's pattern includes a princess dart (a small dart running from the armhole to the bust) to accommodate the size and shape of the bust.
Another big difference is the bottom edge shape and how the front and back pieces sew together.
Here, we can see a major difference in the curvature of the front pieces (where the men's front piece is much more exaggerated), as well as a stylistic choice from our factory to cut a deliberately longer back piece on their women's waistcoats.
Trousers are one of the easiest garments to draft. And there’s honestly nothing different between the two models. Things like rise, taper, and pant length can be changed at the request of the customer to whatever their liking during the virtual fitting process.
Any extra darts you might find on any of our trouser sets are incorporated depending on measurement ratios—when a larger seat pushes out the proportion. It has much less to do with the person or gender it's fitting and more to do with the body.
(The only difference you might be able to notice is the rise, which was manually changed for my personal fit preference—not actually a difference between the patterns.)
Excusing the differences in the waistcoat, I didn’t feel as though any one pattern lacked something the other had or—vice versa—possessed anything the other didn’t also have.
The factory, essentially, has a very gender-neutral base model. This is really great news in terms of constructing try-on garments that will work well with any client. This allows for their own feminine, masculine, or neutral energy to come to the fore. We love that we can encourage individual style and personality to play in people’s wardrobes in this way. They can really make these garments their own.
And, of course, during the individualized fitting process, we can make any stylistic changes at the client’s request so that their garments can be crafted to be more masculine, feminine, or whatever they’re looking for.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Yours in style,