From Amazon to Net-a-Porter, retailers have been quick to hop aboard the “try on at home” bandwagon. Japanese e-commerce company Start Today wants to take that a step forward with a high-tech body-measurement suit.
In November, Start Today — Japan’s largest fashion e-commerce company, with a self-reported $2.6 billion in annual sales — made the Zozosuit available for pre-order in the U.S. The device is best described as a Bluetooth-enabled catsuit that works with an app to generate 15,000 measurements when tried on. It then matches consumers to a version of their choice style that’s best suited to their shape. No need to pick a size.
Frilly, a California clothing company, started in August with pieces featuring customizable color, hemline and straps. It is getting set to roll out a measuring suit of its own this spring. Made-to-measure customers will use a jumpsuit with straps to measure arms, waist, hips and bust.
“It will bring you that service of having a tailor work with you on your garment and have it made exactly to your specifications and your measurements, without having to leave your home at all,” said Jeni Ni, Frilly’s CEO and co-founder.
In both cases, customers will be allowed to keep the free suits, rather than go through the hassle of returning. (“The value we create by providing our customers with an accurate fit more than compensates for the price of the suits we send out,” Ni said.) And both processes were designed to be as simple as possible: Start Today shoppers will upload their measurements, which will be stored in their account. Frilly shoppers will manually add their measurements to their Frilly profile. They can update them at any time.
According to Alisa Gould-Simon, the vice president of marketing at Start Today U.S., Zozosuit orders will be delivered to U.S. shoppers this spring, when Zozotown officially launches globally. (The pieces will hit the Japanese market sooner.) While one-off, made-to-measure pieces are not yet in the cards for the marketplace, the number of available “sizes” offered under the Zozo label will extend far beyond the traditional three (small, medium and large) or five (XS-XL).
“It’s democratizing fashion,” said Gould-Simon, of Zozo. “The attention is placed on the person, rather than their size — and the available ‘sizes’ will be infinite.”
For consumers, these tools are meant to alleviate one long-standing problem: Typically, one size 4 dress, for example, has different measurements than the next. It’s an issue that has been plaguing the industry for decades, according to a 2016 report by Bold Metrics. For brands, on the other hand, they boost customer satisfaction and reduces return; in today’s volatile market, it’s one more thing they can do to help stabilize their businesses.
According to a 2017 report by analytics firm Appriss Retail, total merchandise returns account for more than $351 billion in lost sales for U.S. retailers each year, or about 10 percent of total retail industry sales. And, in 2016, data technology company Body Labs reported that 64 percent of apparel and footwear returns are made due to “incorrect fit.”
“All of our exchanges are for a different size, not because of lack of liking the actual garment,” Ni said. “Our M2M system will allow our customers to purchase with confidence and commitment, rather than a ‘try on at home’ mentality.”
Of course, elaborate measuring “suits” aren’t the only way to get around at-home fitting sessions. Other retailers are tackling inconsistent sizing with charts, fit quizzes (a popular tool among bra brands) and data platforms, like True Fit.
Zara, for one, debuted its “What’s my size?” feature, available on each of its product pages, in April. By clicking on the adjacent blue question mark, shoppers are prompted to enter their height, weight and choice fit, which results in a size recommendation, based on that of other customers providing the same answers. One criticism: Body shape is not considered.
As shopping moves to e-commerce and traditional fitting room visits dwindle, it’s safe to say more retailers will look for ways to eliminate consumer risk of choosing a size.
It’s paramount, according to Ni: “We are cultivating a space in which customers will have trust in the fit and construction of their garments. We don’t see anything better than that when it comes to fashion e-commerce.”