What Happens When the Apparel You Buy Fits Perfectly Every Time?

Technology that has value tends to get better and cheaper.  I can’t think of a reason that won’t be true for the Zozosuit.

“Japanese retailer Zozo, which operates Zozotown, the country’s largest online fashion marketplace, has developed a figure-hugging bodysuit featuring lots of uniquely patterned dots.”

“As you turn slowly round, your smartphone takes photos, building up a 360-degree image of your body shape. Then you can order clothes that really fit.”

There’s one problem with this new technology.  As you’ll hear when you watch this short explanatory video, it doesn’t quite work.

Yet.  Somewhere, the software algorithms are comparing the measurements taken of the people with how the clothing fit and figuring out the required changes.

The financial pressure to make it work is immense.  I’ve read that 30% of apparel ordered online gets returned.  Hard to believe it’s that high, but even if it’s half that, it’s a huge issue.  That returned apparel has to be repackaged and redistributed, or sold at a discount, or discarded. Not all apparel is returned because it doesn’t fit, but if an improved Zozosuit can reduce 30% to 20%, brands and retailers are going to require it as a matter of competitive survival.

Let’s further assume, once the Zozosuit is working, that you’re going to be able to go to a web site and see a picture of you with the item of clothing on.  Heck, you’ll be able to see half a dozen pictures with you in the same garment in different colors.  Or in different colors/patterns.  Mix and match.  Create and accessorize outfits and see how you look.

And why do I think that the consumer, where the power now resides, will insist on being able to see pictures of themselves with different brands on side by side?  The smaller pictures, of course, will be expandable into larger pictures.  Pretty much the same as my recent experience shopping for rugs.

So far, the rugs haven’t looked on our floor like they did on the computer and they had to go back.  That will continue to happen with apparel, I guess.  Although, if there’s a file-perhaps on my computer/phone/device-that tracks everything I looked at, ordered, returned and reordered maybe that 30% return figure can be reduced further than to 20%.

Oh wait- Amazon already tracks all that and manages what you see based on your history.  But I want it on my device so it works across companies and brands.  I mean, it is my data after all.  I think it is.

When is some person way smarter but less risk averse than I am going to develop and sell me a software product that tracks everything I’ve bought anywhere on line?  As it learned about me perhaps it could find better prices (taking tax and shipping into account) and suggest other products.  But it would be agnostic as it went about this.  It wouldn’t care which brand or retailer it sent me to.

Now imagine tying this in with 3D printing.  Let’s call that immediate manufacturing.  Somebody between a large and an extra large (because the Zozosuit that now works says so) can get just what they need.

For some items then, retailers can carry less inventory, but have raw materials and more machines.  It changes the way you look at their financial statements.  And mostly, those raw materials would never go out of style.  Okay, the dayglo chartreuse may not be popular for long.

If I were Zozo, I’d say, “Screw the retail business!” I’d get the best intellectual property lawyers all over the world and try to get solid patents.  Then I’d license the software to retailers.

These kinds of suits are not completely new.  I’ve seen similar uses in making movies (so maybe those patents can’t be had- damn).

The point is that for all the change we’ve had, the evolution of consumer shopping and retail isn’t close to over.  I think the Zozosuit has a future.  I have no idea if that future will look like what I’ve outlined, or if something better will come around.

2 replies
  1. Charlie Ninegar
    Charlie Ninegar says:

    When you can simply print every item that is ordered, there should be massive environmental savings for the planet… but also for the manufacturer’s balance sheet! Only manufacture what’s ordered! That’s a model any business that has to otherwise speculate on inventory longs for. That is a true win-win scenario.

    It will be exciting when we get there. For now, we need more Zozo’s pushing the envelope, getting the learning in, and one day we’ll reach the promise land.

    Cheer for another great post. Keep them coming.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Thanks Charlie. May not happen tomorrow, but it will happen. Along with stuff we haven’t envisioned yet. Good to see you yesterday.

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