Sunday, August 19, 2007

The end is in sight

Yes, those jeans do make your butt look fat.

But rather than hear it from your best friend, boyfriend or mom, take a look for yourself on the Butt Cam, the first of its kind - and in Scottsdale, of course.

Stationed outside the dressing rooms at Hub Clothing at Scottsdale Fashion Square, a video camera points toward the customer's posterior and displays the rear view on a flat-screen TV attached to a giant mirror.

At Hub, which sells dozens of jeans for men and women (most pairs fall between $135 and $250, but some go as high as $900), the Butt Cam underscores that the most important test of a great pair is how they look from behind.

And with the price of premium denim rising to rival a car payment, women and men alike are feeling extra pressure to find "the perfect jeans" (one of fashion's toughest undertakings, just behind the hunt for "the perfect swimsuit"). The Butt Cam was the buzz at the denim boutique Thursday night, when Hub celebrated its recent relocation and expansion at Scottsdale Fashion Square with a grand-opening party.

"It gives you a perspective that you can't find any other way," said Kip Merritt, a 50-year-old interior designer who checked himself out in front of the camera at the party. "What other choices do you have? A three-way mirror?

"Suddenly, even that dressing room staple seems obsolete.

Hub co-owner Tom Simon, a 30-year veteran of the retail industry, came up with the Butt Cam after watching customers twist and turn in front of mirrors to check out their derrieres. He applied for a patent after research showed no others like it, he said.

"They want to look good to other people, not just themselves," Simon said. "And even though it seems ridiculous, there's nothing you wear more than jeans.

"Something like this could only fly in Scottsdale, right? "We do live in a town of people who like to look at themselves," said Jennifer Mumford, who co-owns Hub with Simon.

Still, Mumford insists that utility, not vanity, was the motive for the Butt Cam.After emerging from a dressing room Thursday in a pair of $200 Diesel jeans, Tempe guitarist Joshua Kennedy, 26, was shocked to see how far the back pockets fell.

"This is amazing," Kennedy said of the rear view. "This should be installed everywhere. Everybody should know what their butt looks like in jeans.

"The Butt Cam setup allows Hub employees to display you on three more flat-screen TVs behind the cash registers, if you want to share with the world, or simply change the channel altogether if a customer is uncomfortable with the tush shot.

Hub sales associate Alyssa Rodriguez, 19, said the Butt Cam has been just as popular with men as with women.

"Everybody's been coming in to look at it. They get a kick out of it," Rodriguez said.

Among the amused: Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross, who saw the Butt Cam for the first time when she stopped by Hub's party.

"It seems like it would be very useful," Manross said, adding with a laugh, "I'll come back and try on jeans when no one's around."

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