Nicole Sorenson Interview – Tradlands Development Manager on Their Transit Chino
While Heddels presents a weekly rotation of heritage garb for gents, head-to-toe offerings for women remain scarce. One brand filling the gap is Tradlands. Launched in 2012, the company makes high quality essentials for women, inspired by classic menswear. Known for their shirting, Tradlands just dropped their new Transit Chino featuring sturdy twill, solid construction and smart design details,
I spoke with Nicole Sorenson, Tradland’s product development and production manager, about the Transit Chino project.
Heddels (Lesli Larson): Tradlands has been known for shirts for several seasons. Why pants, why now?
Nicole Sorenson: What I love about Tradlands is how engaged they are with their customers. They really do a great job of polling the women who support the brand. For years, customers have been asking for a pair of pants, and this year it finally happened. There is also a big push going into ’18 to outfit women head to toe, so pants were the next logical step.
H: Where did you source inspirations?
NS: Customer feedback really drove the design direction of this project. We received over 600 completed surveys before we started to dive into the design and first prototypes. Listening to what customers wanted really made it clear what we were going to make from the start. Customers were asking for a classic fit chino with specific, functional details. These imperatives were included while ensuring an ideal fit for women. We ended up doing more than three iterations before we moved into production on this first round.
H: What were the key features?
NS: The Transit Chino includes deep front pockets that you can put your hands in and back pockets that can stow an iPhone. It’s crazy to think about, but a lot of women’s chinos’ pocketing has zero functionality. This was the number one request for these pants. Other details we added were subtle, like the .25″ bartacks on the top and bottoms of the pockets—these might go unnoticed, but they really will extend their life.
The fabric is a sturdy 7.5oz. twill with a little bit of stretch, which gives the fabric mobility while allowing it to hold its shape. The taped outer seam, like selvedge, lets you cuff your pants while exposing a clean finish. They really are finished the same on the interior as they are on the exterior. Both the charcoal and olive twill were custom dyed for this first run and the tape color of the brass zippers corresponds with the fabric color. Instead of a traditional button, we did a riveted donut button to add extra durability.
H: What were some of the challenges you faced in bringing these pants to market?
NS: The number one manufacturing issue we’re up against (while trying to keep individual products in the US) is the cost to manufacture in Los Angeles. For this pair of pants, and the number of components that go into it, we’re still not making our complete margin. [And the margin] is still well below where it needs to be to make this an ongoing item. But it felt like the right time to make it happen, so it was a now-or-never sort of decision, because we wanted to launch for the holiday. And, of course, you want to stay in line, cost-wise, with your other products, and $185 felt doable… but it’s still not getting us were we need to be. This is something we’ll always be working on—delivering well-made, ethically-sewn products at the most reasonable price we can.
H: How would you dress these up in terms of a complete outfit (head to toe)?
NS: Dress them down with some sort of causal sandal or Blundstone boots. Pair them with a Tradland’s button-down under a sweatshirt, layered with the new denim Atlantic Jacket or Shirt Jacket. On the other hand, wearing the chinos with Tradland’s Ashland Black [shirt] and some black patent brogues, or low boots, would dress them up nicely.
You can find the Transit Chino for $185 at Tradlands.