I’m wearing what looks like a pair of skin-tight black pyjamas with large white polka dots.
What I’m actually wearing is a ‘Zozosuit’, a sophisticated combination of tech and textile promising the holy grail of online shopping: clothes guaranteed to fit.
When Zozosuits were launched in Japan, one million were snapped up in 6 months.
Zozosuits are now available to shoppers in 72 countries, including Australia.
So, what is exactly is the Zozosuit and what’s the big deal?
The Zozosuit in all its glory. Photo: Supplied
The art of shopping
Ever bought clothes online only to find they weren’t right and had to be returned? I have – many times. It’s a pain.
The fashion industry is worth a mind-blowing $2.4 trillion annually according to consulting firm McKinsey, and almost 30% of apparel sales now take place online.
But it’s been estimated that around 40% of all online clothes purchases are returned due to incorrect sizing or poor fit.
Given many retailers offer deal-clinching ‘free’ return shipping, the consumer thinks nothing of sending back clothes that aren’t quite right.
But the cost of receiving and refunding returned clothes is astronomical to the seller.
If a retailer could find a way to seriously shrink the return rate, it would be a win-win for both parties.
The consumer wins because they can confidently buy clothes they know will fit, time and time again.
The retailer wins because it makes a successful sale and the postage costs go one way only.
And now that can happen, thanks to some clever tech.
The tech behind the Zozosuit
The two-piece Zozosuit is made of a stretchy fabric that clings like a stocking over your body.
The polka dots are actually fiducial markers that are used by the accompanying app to take very accurate dimensions of your body and draw them in a 3D frame image, which you can spin around and examine on-screen from every angle.
Yes, I'll take that filter, please. Me in the Zozosuit. Selfie by Roulla Yiacoumi.
These measurements are then used to create custom-fit clothes to fit your body precisely.
The Zozo app – available in the App Store and Google Play – is at the heart of the Zozosuit experience.
In fact, the only way to get a Zozosuit in the first place is via the app.
The suit is free, but you need to pay postage, which costs a very reasonable US$5.
The app instructs you how to stand and when to turn, in order to register the most accurate body dimensions. It tells you if you need to move more to the right or left, or step forward/backwards.
All the while, the app is snapping photos, measuring and drawing via a complex set of algorithms.
Minutes later, it presents you with a 3D rendition of your body.
You can then order your custom clothes directly from the app.
The selection isn’t huge but is a good round-up of basics in largely muted tones; white, black, and beige feature prominently.
The clothes, which are manufactured in China, include jeans, t-shirts, button-up shirts and light jumpers (‘sweaters’).
Some of the Zozo clothes available. Photo: Supplied
You can even manually alter the measurements, for example, by telling the app to crop your jeans 5cm or lengthen your t-shirt by 3cm – whatever you’d like.
I order a pair of light blue stretch jeans (US$58) and a black t-shirt ($US25). I add 2cm to the length of the T.
I then sit tight for 6 weeks while my tailored clothes are created.
The name behind Zozo
Zozo, the company behind the Zozosuit, is a spin-off of Start Today, Japan’s largest online fashion retailer.
It was founded by Yusaku Maezawa, a 43-year old Japanese billionaire, with a vision to bring custom-fit clothing to the masses.
(In September, it was announced Maezawa would be the first civilian to fly to the moon aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket.)
“The CEO always wanted to launch his own private label,” Elaine Lee, Southeast Asia and Oceania Zozo Regional Director, tells me.
“The CEO always had to get clothes tailored to fit well. He wanted to do with away with standard sizing and create a size-free world.”
And label-free, too, it would appear. The name Zozo is not branded on any of the clothes.
Lee says individual custom-fit clothing is the way we’re heading.
“People are still sceptical about shopping online – they want to know if they can return clothes. Zozo reduces the return rate and increases the confidence of people. We think this is going to be the future of online shopping.”
Could you stand to look at a 3D rendering of your body? Photo: Supplied.
The moment of truth
Six weeks later, my clothes arrive. I rip open the plastic bags and can’t wait to try on my tailored jeans and t-shirt.
In my hands, the t-shirt feels smooth and supple, while the denim is soft and relaxed.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), the shock of seeing my 3D shape on a screen a few weeks back jolted me into an immediate kilo-shredding eating plan (thank you, Atkins).
So, by the time my jeans arrive six weeks later, I can pull them on and off without even unbuttoning or unzipping.
The beauty of the app is that I can simply re-measure myself and order new clothes based on my new dimensions.
The app stores a history of your measurements and 3D images so you can go back and compare.
But the t-shirt is a comfy fit and I love the feel of the fabric.
Time for a new pair of jeans!