Japan attire platform Zozo merges high-quality style with substantial tech

TOKYO — Irrespective of an ongoing slump in the clothing sector, Zozo — operator of clothing retail web site Zozotown — is performing perfectly, with transaction worth hitting a new higher for the Japanese organization. President Kotaro Sawada, who took around from charismatic founder Yusaku Maezawa, is turning the business […]

TOKYO — Irrespective of an ongoing slump in the clothing sector, Zozo — operator of clothing retail web site Zozotown — is performing perfectly, with transaction worth hitting a new higher for the Japanese organization.

President Kotaro Sawada, who took around from charismatic founder Yusaku Maezawa, is turning the business into a rock-solid fashion platform. As an alternative of leaning on appeal and hoopla, he is wanting to generate a sound corporate culture dependent on employees who are passionate about apparel.

“I am not a charismatic supervisor,” said Sawada, who took in excess of from the excellent but flawed Maezawa in September 2019. He considers himself extra down to earth, “a very little distinctive” from execs who infuse private dogma into their management design and style.

Until now, Maezawa’s “existence by itself was the administration tactic.” The founder was regarded for his exclusive identity and penchant for making controversial tweetstorms. His unorthodox actions, explained by some as “mischievous” and unfettered by typical company conventions, was a driving pressure driving the company’s early growth.

But did Zozo lose its edge following Maezawa stepped down? Maybe not, as Sawada is now leading the corporation with terms backed by action fairly than charm.

Style tech — with the emphasis on style — is what the business now targets. The staff that remained following Maezawa still left are overwhelmingly devoted to manner. Sawada has termed on the corporation to turn into the leader in style and technological innovation and is devoted to long-time period advancement.

Zozo has started off utilizing a companywide community address system to facilitate conversation in 2020, in sharp contrast to preceding management, during which employees normally uncovered about Maezawa’s imagining by random tweets.

Meetings have altered as well. Just before Sawada took above, guidelines ended up given to each and every department in a major-down way, and there was minor conversation amongst them. “Now, facts is shared throughout the board, from administration to the front lines,” reported Sawada.

Sawada’s marriage with the businesses that offer on Zozotown is also distinctive from Maezawa’s. The Zozosuit — a bodysuit applied to get full system measurements — symbolizes this.

Released in 2017 underneath Maezawa’s management, the Zozosuit was created for the company’s in-property brand names, a shift that would reduce into the income of other clothing corporations selling on Zozotown, leading some affected retailers to protest.


The 1st Zozosuit was a flop, but the measurement technology derived from the challenge can now be employed to enable retailers on Zozotown to acquire clothes.

Zozosuit 2 declared in Oct 2020 is not only additional precise but also will allow other organizations to use the engineering. “This is an hard work to improve stock throughout the whole clothing marketplace,” claimed Zozo’s Hisashi Matsufuji, who leads the project. “We are in which we are right now because of all the twists and turns we have taken.”

“We don’t do anything ourselves any longer,” Sawada mentioned.

Zozosuit 2 now will allow knowledge on additional than 1 million entire body designs to be shared with other organizations, supporting them produce garments in additional sizes. The tactic is to raise effectiveness the two for Zozo and Zozotown’s merchants by minimizing the variety of returns and canceled buys thanks to sizing issues.

Zozo’s revamped posture in the vogue field has helped it attain the believe in of clothing providers throughout the pandemic. Corporations that are experiencing slumping in-keep profits have located Zozotown system to be a responsible companion. In the fiscal yr finished March 2021, the value of merchandise transactions enhanced 22% from the previous year, achieving a file large of 419.4 billion yen ($3.8 billion). “The time is coming for us to get a further phase up,” stated Sawada.

In a bid to get the corporation to the future amount, Sawada wishes to completely transform Zozo into a method that works seamlessly with makes in all factors of the apparel sector — from upstream producing to downstream retail. It will not only sell products and solutions but also guidance suppliers at the planning phase.

Especially, Zozo envisions the sharing of desire forecasts collected by Zozotown, the digitization of manufacturing management, and the streamlining of product procurement and logistics preparations by bulk buying.

The firm established a specialized business device this year that coordinates with models to generate the important driving-the-scenes infrastructure.

The trend-tech seeds sown by Zozosuit have sprouted, and Zozo is now striving to improve from a clothes buying web-site into a comprehensive vogue web page.

In conjunction with the March launch of its specialized cosmetics shopping mall, Zozocosme, Zozo started distributing no cost Zozoglass — an eyeglass-hunting system that steps skin tone. People open up the Zozotown app on their smartphone and consider a photo of their deal with while sporting the Zozoglass to have skin features analyzed. The system then suggests solutions from Zozotown, these types of as basis and other cosmetics primarily based on pores and skin style.

The abilities received from acquiring the Zozosuit was employed to develop the new skin care tech. One can see the Zozosuit’s distinctive white dots hooked up to the Zozoglass. “This would not have taken shape if we failed to have the experience with the Zozosuit,” mentioned Takayasu Yamada, head of the company’s imagination method office environment, which is in demand of new firms.

Consumers have put in extra than 1 million orders for Zozoglass. Demand from customers from individuals purchasing cosmetics at home for the duration of the pandemic would seem to be driving the purchases. “I can speedily uncover a colour that blends perfectly with my pores and skin, fairly than hoping many goods at a cosmetics store,” reported a female in her thirties. Some others have commented that it was less complicated to locate suitable goods.


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

For sizing and selecting footwear, Zozomat, which launched in February 2020, achieved a lot more than 1 million buyers in a few months. Users place their foot on Zozomat and photograph it from a number of angles with a smartphone, with the condition of their foot transformed into three-dimensional facts.

Synthetic intelligence technology can then make individualized recommendations. “I at times really feel negative for retail store team when I check out on a few or 4 pairs of sneakers,” stated Yamada. “Now it is really less complicated for folks residing in rural areas to purchase from shops in Tokyo, even without the need of coming in to consider on the merchandise.”

Zozomat for measuring hand, wrist and finger measurements is also on the horizon, with the aim to improve income of jewelry. About 86% of Zozotown yearly end users are energetic members — folks who buy at least after for each 12 months — in the fiscal calendar year ended March 2021. A lot of users sign-up when requesting a measurement machine, which seems to lead to continued use and revenue.

Zozo ideas to start off exporting its measurement know-how abroad by the conclude of 2021. In addition to vogue, the firm envisions a wide variety of purposes, together with health and fitness care, diet regime-similar providers and video games.

“We however have lots of one of a kind tips,” claimed Yamada. “We might like to shift forward with our abroad plans as effectively.”

Lan Kilian

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