Japan’s Zozo ceases international operations, terminates Zozosuit project

Translated by
Nicola Mira
today May 6, 2019
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In autumn 2018, Japanese apparel brand and e-tailer Zozo launched into 72 countries, introducing the Zozosuit, a body suit designed to scan morphological data through an array of tracking dots, using it to produce on demand a range of custom-fit wardrobe essentials. The Zozosuit experience is now over, as well as the range's international deployment, after Zozo experienced a slump in profits for the first time last year.

With the Zozosuit, Zozo created a made-to-measure service to produce wardrobe essentials - Zozo

In an e-mail addressed to Zozo’s international customers, the brand announced it is withdrawing from Europe, America, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East from May 26. A major blow for the Japanese brand, whose e-tail site Zozotown generated nearly half of the domestic market’s medium and high-end fashion sales. Especially after the brand’s media-savvy founder, Yusaku Maezawa, paid a tidy sum to give Zozo an international dimension, buying the first ticket sold for the moon-bound Space-X space travel service.

Indeed, Zozo’s operating profit plummeted last year, falling by 21.5%, down to €205 million (JPY25.6 billion), despite the fact that revenue increased by 19.4%, reaching €2.6 billion (JPY323 billion) in the same financial year. The profit slump is said to be chiefly due to the heavy investment needed to deploy Zozo internationally, and especially to the technical challenges inherent in the Zozosuit.

The black, tracking-dot-covered body suit was provided free of charge to each customer of the Zozo custom-fit app, taking a heavy toll on the company’s profitability. Customers wearing the suit used a smartphone to detect their morphological measurements digitally, and were then able to order their own made-to-measure wardrobe essentials like t-shirts, shirts and jeans. All of them produced in Chinese factories, using a patented system of customised patterns.

“For jeans and t-shirts, we have tens of thousands of patterns to satisfy on-demand production. And we can stock up on the most common morphologies, shortening delivery time to a few days. To achieve this, we use machine learning and predictive analysis to determine which products we need to prepare for delivery,” said Masahiro Ito, who spearheaded Zozo’s ambitious project, speaking to FashionNetwork.com last September. A project for which the right way forward doesn’t yet seem to have been found.

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