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Is this the future of Fashion Retail?

John Lenihan
retail, technology, architecture, realty, personalisation,digital fashion, avatar bodysuit

If you are like many people in NZ and around the globe who like the idea of shopping for clothes on line, but are annoyed by the whole hit and miss of getting the right size and fit, along with the chore of sending back items that don’t fit, then Zozo might be for you.

Launched in 2018, Zozo is an offshoot of Zozotown the largest online fashion retailer in Japan, established in 2004. Zozo is a custom-fit apparel brand for both sexes based on an at-home measurement app using the zozosuit.

For $10NZD you are sent a black skin-tight lycra full body suit covered in white dots. You are able to use any smartphone that has a camera, alongside the downloaded app. From here, you slowly rotate in front of the camera, and the technology of the polka dot suit and phone camera, then capture a 3D image of your body.

Donning the zozosuit and doing the body scan was hilarious and definitely should be done in the privacy of your home.  Zozo have indicated that the suits are contributing to a $40 million per year loss - However, due to the amount of data that has now been collected on body shapes globally, they can now eliminate this step, and associated costs.  From March 2019 you will be able to enter your height and weight rather than use the scanning process. The suit and the 3D avatar of your body seemed to be a clear point of differentiation, and was definitely a novelty, although it is now apparent that this was a crucial R+D step for them.

From the acquired information, you are then  able to browse the Zozo clothing collection. They custom-make the items you select to fit the dimensions of your body. At present the range is very limited to jeans at $85, Oxford shirt at $70, two crew neck sweaters at $50-75, and two T-shirts $35 - but in 2-4 colours per item. In style, it’s like a capsule range from Uniqlo – very classic popular styles and colours, clearly picked to appeal to a vast number of people at a very low price point for custom-made. They promise business suits are to follow.

When you order, they do ask if you would like to alter the fit in about 6 key dimensions like chest, neck and so on. I ordered the jeans and shirt, thinking these were the most testing items to order and I went with the recommended sizing.  This turned out to be a slight flaw in the process. The Japanese like jeans longer in the seat and shorter in the leg with shirts shorter in the body - aka jeans that fit well but not so stylish for me.  The shirt was also too short in the body for my comfort.

This would be resolved if you could place the item on your measured avatar and play around with the measurement options.

The other issue was the delivery timeframe.  At order processing they said allow 4 weeks, but it took 12. The fit and delivery issues seem to be very common. This seems to be a major issue for Zozo - online and custom creates an expectation of convenience and perfect fit. The technology to support this idea is revolutionary, but as with everything it’s all about the execution and meeting expectations. If I could share my Zozo avatar with any fashion retailer to get the best fit from their range that would be powerful.

Personally, I think the ability to feel the fabric, try on for fit, comfort and style is key to fashion purchasing and is still done best in a real environment, like a store.  There is nothing like instant gratification to open up the wallet.  

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