Manzella has shoveled through 12 years of research on the physiology, sizing, and anatomy of women's hands to come up with some astounding data that finally clarifies why women's gloves never really quite fit.
And this research has been applied to an entirely new line of active, outdoor gloves by the Buffalo, N.Y.-based company. We aren't just talking a little tweaking here and there. The company had eight styles of women's gloves previously. It dumped them all when it found out how wrong it was in sizing (and it's not the only company that is way off), and is introducing two-dozen new styles for Fall '02.
We at SNEWS mentioned the findings to several women acquaintances and colleagues -- one women just looked shocked and said, "My gosh, all this time I just thought I had weird hands."
No, women do not have weird hands and a downsized men's glove -- you know, an XS instead of as S, and so forth -- is not a glove designed for women. Not as if Manzella was planning a total line re-vamp when it began some women's focus groups almost a year ago.
"When we started this project, we didn't think it was going to come down to fit," Tony Manzella told SNEWS®. The company heard a lot of discontent, but "nobody cared about styling. The majority was not happy with fit. It really came down to fit."
So the company did additional user groups, and then consulted with hand physiologists who dug around in dusty ol' research. The result showed three primary differences in North American women's hands:
• Length - Women's hands vary more in length than in width.
• Mass -- Women's hands don't have as much girth or mass in the palm area.
• Wrist -- Women's hands taper more at the wrist
What this came down to is why our sample woman, quoted above, and likely many others (including one SNEWS® editor who always just thought she also just had weird long fingers) always found gloves too short in the fingers when they sized down to get the mass to fit better, but if they sized up for more length, the glove got too baggy. And it always bagged at the wrist, leaving that area susceptible to chills and drafts. So they complained a bit, but coped since, well, there weren't a lot of choices.
And this from a gender that nearly always has cold hands, huh?
The new Z-System line -- at retail by August 2002 -- will include simple Poly-Lycra liners, as well as technical materials such as Malden's Polartec and Wind Pro, plus the first glove using Gore-Tex's new N2S fabric. And, above all else, it is a joy how they actually fit the finger length and palm width.
• The N2S glove (WSLW-10) is a breathable, wind-stopping, water-resistant silk-weight glove that is meant to wear as a base for higher-output activities. We at SNEWS find it also works well with an extremely lightweight layer underneath. We also love this lightweight glove. MSRP $30.
• The Thermolite base (TSW-10) is a thickly knit glove that gives great thermal protection, but is also thick enough to stave off drafts coming at the back of your hands. Breathable and wicking. A great all-around pair, especially for the price. MSRP $12.
• The Outlast liner glove is lighter-weight than the Thermolite one, above, but is still a great all-around pair. We are convinced that the Outlast actually absorbs, stores, and releases body heat. But then, if your hands are chilled enough that they don't have any heat to release, what's the point? Still, they are a light base pair. MSRP $13.
• The Polartec Wind Pro glove (WPW-10) promises to be another favorite, with its fleecy snuggly material, yet sleek fit. And the technical features of water-repellency and wind protection are a dream come true for the cold-hand crowd. MSRP $30.
The new Z-System, which for 2003 will include better materials and fabrications plus insulation in key areas, also includes balaclavas, neck gaitors, headbands, and hats -- mostly in technical fabrics. This is the No. 1 expected growth area for the company this year, Manzella said.
This could give Manzella (www.manzella.com) a competitive edge among women, who are big on word-of-mouth info-sharing.
"We didn’t reinvent the wheel," Manzella said, admitting to an edge that he of course looks forward to. "We just found out what women didn’t like about gloves."
Yes, but then they changed those things.
"The bottom line is, we are now going to have gloves women will be happy with," Manzella said. "If your hands are dry and warm, you'll be able to stay outside longer and do what you want to do."