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Japanese Clothing Giants Go Head-to-Head Over How to Measure Customers

Fast Retailing's Tadashi Yanai and Yusaku Maezawa, founder of Japan’s largest e-commerce company, Start Today, traded public barbs over Maezawa's new body-scanning technology.
Zozosuit | Source: Start Today
By
  • Bloomberg

TOKYO, Japan — Two rival Japanese clothing giants are sparring over — what else — how to size someone up.

The subject of debate is the Zozosuit, a skin-tight bodysuit covered in polka dots that serves as a body scanner for measuring clothing size. For Yusaku Maezawa, founder of Japan's largest e-commerce company Start Today Co., his company's technology is a way to shake up the retail industry.

To Tadashi Yanai, founder of Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing Co., the Zozosuit is more of a "toy." In an interview with the Nikkei published Monday, Yanai, a billionaire who built Uniqlo from his father's tailor shop into the biggest retailer in Asia, said the Zozosuit would be troublesome to use and didn't solve the key issue in clothing -- that the feel of fit differed depending on the wearer.

Maezawa, also a self-made billionaire, then responded on social media, saying Yanai’s words were the highest praise he could receive — adding that the purpose of the Zozosuit was so people around the world could have fun and laugh over measuring themselves.

Start Today, which makes most of its money through a shopping website called Zozotown, recently started its own clothing business centered around the Zozosuit. Maezawa, 42, said in a July interview he respected Yanai, 69, but added that Start Today’s clothing was made-to-order and different from items Uniqlo sold.

Yanai’s Uniqlo last year introduced a “semi-order made” system where customers’ measurements could be taken in-store and then used for subsequent orders for business wear.

By Lisa Du, with additional reporting from Shoko Oda; Editors: Jeff Sutherland, Gearoid Reidy.

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