NYDJ 's ad in Oprah features women found during a three-city open casting call.NYDJ 's ad in Oprah features women found during a three-city open casting call.

NYDJ, which prides itself on offering jeans that fit every woman, took that message straight to consumers. Over the course of three weeks in April, the company visited three malls — Fashion Valley in San Diego; Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., and Roosevelt Field in Garden City, N.Y. — in search of women to appear in its fall ad campaign, which launches Tuesday.

The company staged an open casting call with mini-makeovers, hair touch-ups and fittings, and then photographed each of the women in the NYDJ jeans. Over 300 women participated in the three cities.

“We didn’t set out looking for models at all,” said Kate Foster, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of NYDJ. “What we were really inspired by was that magic moment that occurs every day in dressing rooms of stores that carry NYDJ, when a woman slips on her jeans she has a positive emotional reaction to finding her perfect fit. We felt like we had an opportunity to build an entire campaign around that magic moment, so we decided to take the show on the road. What we saw was far better than we expected.”

Mothers and daughters and groups of friends showed up to have a fun experience and try on jeans, she said. Women ranged in sizes from double zero petites to 24, and their ages ranged from 14 to 80. “It was a diverse group of professions, whether they were lawyers, or school teachers or flight attendants,” said Foster.

“The hope is to be able to integrate as many of these portraits as possible throughout the life of the campaign through the rest of the year,” said Foster. All the portraits will be featured as a gallery on NYDJ’s web site and a two-page spread will run in the August issue of Oprah magazine featuring a total of 21 women in 12 photos. The September issue of Oprah will spotlight 15 women in 11 photos.

The women were styled in NYDJ jeans and tops. They were greeted by a stylist who outfitted them in fall looks, gave them a mini makeover and touched up their hair. The women were photographed by Dewey Nicks and Gregory Scaffidi, wearing head-to-toe NYDJ’s fall fashions.

NYDJ 's ad in Oprah features women found during a three-city open casting call.NYDJ 's ad in Oprah features women found during a three-city open casting call.

NYDJ’s ad in Oprah features women found during a three-city open casting call.  Courtesy Photo

According to Lisa Collier, chief executive officer of NYDJ, 70 percent or more of the women had never tried on the brand before. The women spent about 30 to 40 minutes on the total experience, and they were able to get a preview of what’s coming for fall. Jeans ranged from skinny to boot-leg and stylists asked them a series of questions about their personal tastes in denim and fit.

“We learned so many things from the experience. We learned the power of the perfect fit, and the connection the consumer has with this brand, and how important the fit is to their denim experience,” said Foster. “Being able to experience that in a community-centric atmosphere and moment was a lot of fun not only for the consumers but for us as well.”

The Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego and Mall of America partnered with Nordstrom and at Roosevelt Field, they tied in with their own NYDJ retail store.

For participating in the experience and trying on a pair of jeans, NYDJ donated an article of clothing to Clothes4Souls in the participant’s name. The women were given a tote bag as well and will receive the photo to share socially.

Collier and Foster declined to reveal the fall budget but said it was essentially flat to a year ago. “It was perhaps a more innovative use of the dollars,” said Foster.

Collier said the goal was to get new consumers to experience the brand who maybe had not tried it before. She said she had a good conversion rate (90 percent) of women who tried on the brand and then actually made a purchase.

Asked whether the exercise was to find models for the campaign or get women to buy the brand, Collier said, “We’re looking to achieve both and expose new women to the brand and get a trial.”  She added that women of all shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities came to the casting call and will be represented in the ads.

As for whether the company would do it again, Foster said, “I would do this every day of the week if we could.”

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