Japan apparel platform Zozo merges fine fashion with high tech

TOKYO — Inspite of an ongoing slump in the apparel sector, Zozo — operator of clothing retail site Zozotown — is accomplishing perfectly, with transaction benefit hitting a new high for the Japanese corporation.

President Kotaro Sawada, who took around from charismatic founder Yusaku Maezawa, is turning the business into a rock-strong style system. As an alternative of leaning on allure and buzz, he is on the lookout to create a audio company tradition primarily based on staff who are passionate about clothes.

“I am not a charismatic manager,” mentioned Sawada, who took over from the good but flawed Maezawa in September 2019. He considers himself a lot more down to earth, “a small distinct” from execs who infuse own dogma into their management design and style.

Till now, Maezawa’s “existence by itself was the management tactic.” The founder was regarded for his exceptional character and penchant for creating controversial tweetstorms. His unorthodox conduct, described by some as “mischievous” and unfettered by regular corporate conventions, was a driving power behind the company’s early growth.

But did Zozo drop its edge following Maezawa stepped down? Perhaps not, as Sawada is now main the firm with words and phrases backed by action relatively than attraction.

Fashion tech — with the emphasis on manner — is what the business now targets. The employees that remained following Maezawa left are overwhelmingly devoted to manner. Sawada has referred to as on the firm to develop into the chief in vogue and technology and is devoted to very long-term development.

Zozo has commenced using a companywide public deal with method to facilitate interaction in 2020, in sharp contrast to past administration, in the course of which workers frequently realized about Maezawa’s wondering by way of random tweets.

Meetings have transformed as well. In advance of Sawada took around, instructions have been provided to just about every office in a major-down way, and there was minimal interaction among the them. “Now, info is shared across the board, from management to the entrance lines,” stated Sawada.

Sawada’s romantic relationship with the providers that market on Zozotown is also diverse from Maezawa’s. The Zozosuit — a bodysuit employed to just take complete human body measurements — symbolizes this.

Introduced in 2017 beneath Maezawa’s leadership, the Zozosuit was designed for the firm’s in-residence brand names, a shift that would slice into the profits of other apparel businesses offering on Zozotown, leading some influenced merchants to protest.


The initial Zozosuit was a flop, but the measurement technologies derived from the challenge can now be utilised to enable retailers on Zozotown to create apparel.

Zozosuit 2 announced in Oct 2020 is not only more correct but also lets other organizations to use the technological innovation. “This is an work to improve inventory throughout the entire attire industry,” explained Zozo’s Hisashi Matsufuji, who qualified prospects the venture. “We are in which we are today simply because of all the twists and turns we’ve taken.”

“We will not do everything ourselves any more,” Sawada reported.

Zozosuit 2 now makes it possible for info on much more than 1 million human body shapes to be shared with other firms, aiding them build clothes in much more measurements. The method is to increase performance each for Zozo and Zozotown’s retailers by lowering the number of returns and canceled buys owing to measurement complications.

Zozo’s revamped placement in the style marketplace has aided it attain the have confidence in of apparel businesses all through the pandemic. Firms that are experiencing slumping in-shop income have identified Zozotown system to be a trusted associate. In the fiscal 12 months finished March 2021, the worth of items transactions amplified 22% from the prior 12 months, reaching a document significant of 419.4 billion yen ($3.8 billion). “The time is coming for us to get an additional move up,” reported Sawada.

In a bid to take the organization to the following degree, Sawada needs to change Zozo into a method that is effective seamlessly with brand names in all facets of the apparel sector — from upstream manufacturing to downstream retail. It will not only offer products but also aid producers at the scheduling stage.

Precisely, Zozo envisions the sharing of demand from customers forecasts collected by Zozotown, the digitization of creation administration, and the streamlining of product procurement and logistics preparations via bulk purchasing.

The company founded a specialized business enterprise device this calendar year that coordinates with manufacturers to generate the required behind-the-scenes infrastructure.

The fashion-tech seeds sown by Zozosuit have sprouted, and Zozo is now attempting to mature from a clothing browsing internet site into a extensive manner site.

In conjunction with the March start of its specialised cosmetics shopping mall, Zozocosme, Zozo started distributing free of charge Zozoglass — an eyeglass-wanting machine that measures skin tone. People open the Zozotown app on their smartphone and consider a image of their encounter whilst donning the Zozoglass to have pores and skin features analyzed. The system then suggests solutions from Zozotown, this kind of as basis and other cosmetics dependent on pores and skin style.

The experience attained from developing the Zozosuit was employed to develop the new pores and skin care tech. Just one can see the Zozosuit’s unique white dots connected to the Zozoglass. “This would not have taken form if we did not have the experience with the Zozosuit,” explained Takayasu Yamada, head of the firm’s imagination system office, which is in charge of new corporations.

Shoppers have place in more than 1 million orders for Zozoglass. Demand from customers buying cosmetics at dwelling in the course of the pandemic looks to be driving the purchases. “I can speedily come across a shade that blends very well with my skin, relatively than striving several products at a cosmetics retail outlet,” said a girl in her thirties. Other people have commented that it was less difficult to discover suitable products and solutions.


Zozo founder Yusaku Maezawa, proper, shakes arms with SoftBank Team Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son at the announcement of a tie-up with Yahoo Japan in 2019.

For sizing and deciding upon footwear, Zozomat, which launched in February 2020, attained more than 1 million users in a few months. People put their foot on Zozomat and photograph it from many angles with a smartphone, with the shape of their foot transformed into a few-dimensional knowledge.

Artificial intelligence engineering can then make individualized recommendations. “I occasionally experience bad for retail outlet staff members when I check out on a few or 4 pairs of sneakers,” claimed Yamada. “Now it really is simpler for persons dwelling in rural regions to get from outlets in Tokyo, even without having coming in to test on the items.”

Zozomat for measuring hand, wrist and finger measurements is also on the horizon, with the purpose to enhance gross sales of jewelry. About 86% of Zozotown once-a-year people are active associates — people who acquire at least after for each 12 months — in the fiscal year ended March 2021. Many end users sign up when requesting a measurement unit, which seems to lead to continued use and profits.

Zozo options to get started exporting its measurement technology overseas by the conclude of 2021. In addition to manner, the corporation envisions a broad range of purposes, such as overall health treatment, diet-related expert services and online games.

“We even now have several exceptional ideas,” mentioned Yamada. “We’d like to go forward with our overseas ambitions as well.”