The Art of Selling (Perfect) Jeans

This article applies the principles of my guide about how to buy perfect jeans as done by two experienced and successful denim retailers. If you haven’t read the guide already, I encourage you to do so first.

Christopher Åkesson and Peter Hilmersson of Meadow in Malmo
Christopher Åkesson (left) and Peter Hilmersson (right), founders and owners of Meadow in Malmo.

4 Tips for Retailers That Will Guide Your Customers to Perfect Jeans (with Peter and Christopher from Meadow)

If you’re in men’s fashion retail, you know that some garments practically sell themselves.

Sometimes, big sellers are the hippest colour of the season. Sometimes a garment or an accessory has been endorsed by a celebrity or a trendsetter. Sometimes it’s the weather, like when boots and jackets fly out the store on the first day of winter. Or when you can’t keep enough stock of shorts and flip-flops in the summer.

With jeans, it’s usually a little different.

For most men, jeans are a wardrobe staple. It’s what we wear at work, at home, out on the town and in the garden. This means we have very specific and highly individual requirements for our jeans.

Jeans should fit like a tailored suit or a pair of handmade boots. They have to match the shirts and jackets we have in our wardrobes. Sometimes, our jeans have to be a certain brand. And it never hurts if we feel we get value for our money.

I experienced this every single day when I worked in retail. Customers would come in looking for their next pair of “perfect” jeans. What I quickly learned was that selling perfect jeans is a form of art. It’s something you have to learn by doing it. Knowing how to guide your customers towards jeans they’ll actually be happy with takes a lot of practice and astute observations.

To get an inside perspective of how the sausage is made, I called my good friends and Scandinavian brothers, Peter and Christopher from Meadow in Malmo, Sweden’s third biggest city, just across the Oresund strait from Copenhagen.

I wanted to know how they run one of Scandinavia’s coolest denim shops by making sure their customers walk out with perfect jeans.

Jeans at Meadow in Malmo

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The Fit Has to Be Right

For denimheads, hunting for jeans is a sport. But for most ordinary consumers, it can be an exhausting challenge. Here’s how Peter and Christopher make it easier when a customer walks into their store.


I ask him, first of all, if he has been looking at something in particular. At the same time, I’ll notice what he’s wearing. If he comes in with a skinny jean or a baggy jean or whatever. If he says, ‘I’m just looking for a pair of jeans,’ then I’ll ask, ‘are you looking for something like the style you’re wearing?’ … And I’ll take it from there.”


So you show him a few options then?”


Yes, if he says, ‘something like what I’m wearing,’ I’ll bring him no more than three pairs to start with. Actually, I’d rather bring him just two pairs. After three, things can get confusing. If he tries on one pair and they’re good, then you don’t want him to be confused by five other pairs. That just takes time and it makes his mind spin.”


I look at his figure, and his legs, how tall he is and the jeans he’s wearing. If he comes in with a worn-in tapered fit, you know that he will probably go for tapered fits. Still, I ask him about what fit he likes first. Slim or straight or tapered? If he wants a tapered fit, I’ll bring him a couple of different options in different price ranges.

Usually, people just come in and say, ‘I want a pair of jeans.’ They don’t have a certain brand in mind. They just want a good pair of well-fitted, quality jeans.”

Advice for Retailers: Fit is Imperative to Finding Perfect Jeans

For Peter and Christopher, helping a customer find the perfect pair of jeans is all about the fit at first.

  • When a customer walks into your store looking for a pair of jeans, the best start of helping him find the perfect pair is to look at what he’s wearing.
  • Ask him about what kind of fit he likes and show him a couple of options that match his preferences.
Faded Tellason and Levi's Vintage Clothing jeans from Meadow of Malmo
A couple of the “perfect” jeans that Meadow have sold. The fades speak for themselves; the owners love these jeans.

High Price Equals High Interest

As I’ve argued in my guide to finding perfect jeans, knowing your budget is a prerequisite to ending up with a pair of jeans you’ll be happy with.

At Meadow, selvedge jeans start at SEK1200 (~$140), but that doesn’t seem to scare customers off.


I never ask about the customer’s budget. If I bring him two or three different pairs, they’ll usually be in different price ranges, perhaps between SEK1500 (~$175) and SEK2300 (~$270).”


It’s not often people are shocked or offended by our prices. They know how it is when they walk in to the store, and I think a lot of our customers here in Malmö check our webshop first.

Customers will come in and they say, ‘I’ve taken a look at your webshop and I like these Tellason jeans.’ And then I’ll just show the different styles, he’ll try them on and go for one of them.

Tellason is one of our best-selling brands, and they’re SEK1900 (~$220). We also sell a lot of Edwins—like the Red Selvage jean—and they’re SEK1500 (~$175). And we sell a bunch of Indigofera jeans, and many of those are about SEK2500 (~$290). The cheapest selvedge jeans we’ve got are SEK1200 (~$140).”


I try not to knock down the less expensive jeans. Sometimes the customer really wants that SEK2300-pair, but he is, perhaps, a student, so he can’t afford jeans that expensive. So you let him know that the slightly cheaper jeans are actually very good as well.”

Advice for Retailers: Less Is More

Peter and Christopher agree with my advice about jeans budget:

  • Help your customers buy fewer, but better jeans.
  • If a customer is trying on, for example, a pair of SEK2300 (~$270) jeans that he feels are too expensive, and he finds something similar but cheaper elsewhere—something that sort of meets his needs—then he’s still thinking of those expensive ones.
  • In the end, he’ll probably come back and buy them anyway. So he could just as well have bought them in the first place.
  • This is why I advise people to follow the less is more principle.

orSlow jeans at Meadow in Malmo

Deliver Your Sales Pitch at the Fitting Room

It’s when your customer is trying on a pair the jeans that you make the sale. But how do you give your customers the best guidance when they’re trying on jeans?


I talk about the jeans while he’s trying them on. I’ll explain, ‘these are SEK1200 and this is the reason why,’ and, ‘these are SEK2300 because they’re made here and here,’ and talk about the quality and the fabric and everything. Then he’ll also get to feel the difference of the jeans; most of our customers can feel the difference between a pair of SEK1200-jeans and a pair that sells for SEK2300. Whether they’re sewn in Turkey or the US or Portugal, it’s a different price you pay.”


With some customers, you can just ask, ‘how do you like them?’ and they start talking about what they like and what they don’t like. If the customer is more shy, maybe you have to go more into specific details like, ‘what is it about the fit that you like or don’t like?’ Basically, you ask simpler questions.”

Advice for Retailers: Focus on the Fitting Room

  • First, making sure that the jeans fit.
  • If they do, talk about why the jeans are great; where they are made, the denim, details and so on.
  • Don’t say something like, “they’re great quality,” the customer already knows that; if he’s trying on a pair of jeans that costs, for example, SEK2300 (~$270), he instinctively expects the quality to be good—that’s how the psychology of prices work.
  • Instead, talk about the reasons why the jeans are worth the money.

3sixteen jeans at Meadow in Malmo

Know Your Customers and Use Style and Brand as Guidelines

Let’s back up a bit to when a customer walks into the store and asks to see some jeans. How do you know what style and brand he will like?

Peter has identified three archetypical Meadow customers. He uses style cues for each archetype to find out what jeans to show the customer.


You look at his style and his persona. There’s the ‘ordinary guy,’ then there’s the ‘denim guy,’ and then there’s the ‘fashion guy.’

If a customer comes in and he’s wearing a blue oxford shirt, tapered jeans and a pair of Vans—that’s a popular look for Swedish guys—usually he would go for a pair of classic-style jeans. That’s the ‘ordinary guy.’

The ‘denim guy’ could be a bit older, and he may be wearing something like a pair of straight-fitted Tellason jeans or a pair of Tender jeans. Often, ‘denim guys’ come in and chat for a while first. Those are often customers we know already. They’re more eager to talk to us about jeans, which makes it easier as well. And they definitely know what they want, especially what brand they want. They don’t just say, ‘I want a pair of jeans.’ They are more like, ‘I want this brand, and I want this fit.’

The ‘fashion guy’ wants something more subtle. He would go for something without stitches on the back pockets. Maybe the ED-80 from Edwin, which is a tapered fit with clean back pockets. This kind of customer often also likes 3sixteen. Sometimes orSlow. Sometimes Levi’s Vintage Clothing. It depends on how ‘fashion’ he is.”

Levi's Vintage Clothing 501ZXX jeans at Meadow in Malmo

Knowing his customers also helps Peter figure out which brands and styles not to show.


The guy who likes American brands like 3sixteen and Rogue Territory usually doesn’t want Nudie or Edwin jeans. And I guess that’s the same for the guy who likes Japanese brands; he would go for a pair of orSlow or Tender or something.”


Maybe he feels he has moved on from Nudie and Edwin?”


Yes, I think so. Nudie and Edwin are more like the basic brands for us. I think a lot of our customers start out with a pair of ED-55 or a pair of Nudies or something like that. And, for their next pair, they want something different.”

This is where Peter combines his expectations of what a certain kind of customer likes with his knowledge about the jeans he’s selling.


There’s more to tell about a pair of Tender jeans compared to a pair of Nudies. Our customers know Nudie, they know what they get. With Tender, it’s more expensive, the back pockets are different, the fit is loose, everything is different.

With brands like Tender, I think it’s important you explain it to the customer. They definitely need more work. If a guy comes in and says, ‘I want a pair of well-fitted jeans,’ you can’t just bring him a pair of Tender jeans and say, ‘try these on.’ …”


… Because they are a little too different and he expected a classic, five pocket style?”



Advice for Retailers: Know Your Customer and His Preferences

  • Identify the different kinds of customers that visit your store.
  • Notice what they’re wearing and what they’re interested in.
  • Take a few notes about your customers and divide them into no more than a handful of archetypes, like Peter has done.
  • IMPORTANT: Use archetypical cues as guidelines only! You have to listen to what your customers say; use your intuition. And remember, don’t judge a book by its cover – the same goes for your customers.

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If you want to see how Peter and Christopher sell jeans online, head over to their webshop at


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