What makes a great new glove design?

Recently we worked on a new ski glove project, and the development process took a surprising turn.

We thought we’d share the story …

All great designs … and brands … start with knowing your customer.

And in this case, the merchant REALLY knew his.

Glove expertise, technical factors or leather knowledge are important …

But for this design, “intangibles” made all the difference. more

The Surprising Story of a New Snow Sport Glove

After working out the technical and construction details for warmth, weatherproofing, and other needed performance factors for a high-end ski glove, we we came to the choice of leather.

We considered a range of leather alternatives, as we always do —  from a sprayed goatskin with great texture and color, to a more luxurious sheepskin … and many other choices, too.

The customer’s decision from among the alternatives presented, surprised us!  Despite the “high-end” brand positioning, he didn’t choose the most expensive leather.

But, his decision made sense in a Malcolm Gladwell, “Outlier”** kind of way.

** In his book, “Outliers”.  Gladwell makes the point that success comes from factors that can’t always be measured objectively … but can be understood, in context.

Back to our customer. Why did he choose what he did?

The merchant had a VISION for his brand.  He knew HIS consumer.  He felt the choice in his gut.  In the end, the final design had less to do with leather pricing — a factor we typically think is very important– and more to do with customer insight. In context, it was an unusual, but very good decision*.

*Early sales indications are very positive.

The Glove Design Process

It’s a collaborative process.  Your design team will present you options, but at the end of the day, you as product manager or buyer choose based on knowing your customer.

And sometimes, your choices — even the ones that surprise us — make magic happen.

(We often say a great glove starts with a great product brief. To learn more about our glove design and development process click here).

What Makes a Great Brand, Anyway?

One more comment about the “intangibles” of our business.

Look at highly successful better brands like Guillard or Longchamp or Filson …

From where we sit, we could say that their materials or construction could be “better” in a purist sense.  But who’s to say whether a bag should be lined or unlined, or a glove should be made of the most luxe hair sheep and not goat?

As they say, one man’s beer is another mans champagne.

Even after 80 years, to be perfectly honest, the home runs sometimes surprise us.

What about you? Do products you thought would be sure winners sometimes come up short? Can you ALWAYS predict what your customer will like?

Free Glove Resources:  Blogs, eBooks, and Other Useful Information

We hope you found this story thought-provoking … we’d love to know what you think.  In your experience, how does a great merchant knows what merchandise the customer will like?

And check out one of our free resources, like the Ultimate Glove Buyers Kit, the Ultimate Guide to Glove Cost  … or the guide below, on managing leadtimes, and how to get gloves, fast …

And as always, if your glove project needs a fresh point of view, get in touch.