Meet the ZozoSuit - StretchSense's high-tech solution to clothing measurments

  • Design
  • November 24, 2017
  • Benjamin Mack
Meet the ZozoSuit - StretchSense's high-tech solution to clothing measurments

Kiwi wearable tech company StretchSense has come up with a solution for making sure the clothes you buy online actually fit. And they've also drawn major attention from Japan's largest online retailer.

It’s a dilemma we can all relate to: you buy clothes online that you think not only look cute and won’t require you to take out a loan, but will actually fit. You wait excitedly for days for the package to arrive, and when it does you begin tearing it apart with the same giddiness as a five-year-old on Christmas morning before you’ve even walked through the front door. You eagerly pull the clothes out and start trying them on right then and there, only to find out… they don’t fit. Not even close.


Wouldn’t it be great if there was, well, a solution to this very First World problem?

One guess what this article is about.

Auckland-based StretchSense has come up with a solution to making sure the clothes you buy online will always fit – and has garnered tens of millions of dollars in investment to take it to the mass market. The ZozoSuit is a garment a person puts on that contains about 150 sensors, which can quickly take your exact measurements – think a tailor, but without the measuring tape being stretched around areas you’d rather strangers don’t touch.

“It makes those measurements automatic,” says StretchSense marketing director Shin Jeong Park. “The tech is very new. This is really good for the online retail industry.”

Park explains that the ZozoSuit will be available to customers of Start Today, who own Japan’s largest online fashion retailer. She emphasises it’s made and developed in Aotearoa, something StretchSense is “really proud of.”

The first consumer-ready wearable product built with StretchSense’s sensor technology, the ZozoSuit was developed in close collaboration between the two companies. StretchSense says its mission is to go beyond wearables and towards “disappearables” —smart garments with unobtrusive sensors and electronics that feel invisible to the wearer.

StretchSense co-founder and CEO Ben O’Brien certainly believes in its potential. “We’ve been talking about disappearables for years now — clothing where it’s not clear where the garment ends and the sensors start,” he says. “It’s the most ambitious thing we’ve ever done.”

Start Today’s goal for the ZozoSuit is to ensure online clothing shoppers get a guaranteed fit with their purchases, significantly improving customer satisfaction while reducing the number of returns the retailer has to process.

Park says the applications of the ZozoSuit could also expand beyond online fashion. “The ability to measure body size is just one of the applications possible with a smart sensing body suit. Stretch sensors are a great tool to capture information about how people move in the world; from that information you can draw conclusions about motion, pose and health. The data from our sensing technology is helping to push the boundaries of human performance.”

StretchSense’s journey began over a decade ago in the Biomimetics Lab of the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute. The company incorporated in 2012 as a spin-out from the university and continued to develop its stretch sensor technology. StretchSense attracted the attention of Start Today in December 2015 – ultimately leading to series A investment in June of 2016 – and has grown to serve over 400 customers in 28 countries.

Founded in 1998 by Yusaku Maezawa, Start Today has grown into Japan’s largest fashion e-commerce company, with $2.6 billion in annual sales. Start Today’s portfolio includes ZozoTown, Japan’s go-to marketplace for fashion, which welcomes over 25 million visitors every month.

Oh, and Start Today has also reached an agreement with StretchSense for an option to buy the company. Can’t forget that bit.

The agreement represents a US$20 million injection into the New Zealand technology ecosystem, with an additional $72 million should Start Today choose to exercise the option and acquire full ownership of StretchSense.

StretchSense’s New Zealand operations, which take place at two sites in Auckland with more than 130 employees in total, will continue as normal.

O’Brien is pretty thrilled, of course. “This deal with Start Today is a great sign for New Zealand’s technology ecosystem,” he says. “It proves it’s possible for a Kiwi technology company to build itself up from essentially nothing into a world-class operation capable of competing on the global stage.

Our relationship with Start Today began because of our technology, but it’s the value of our people and Kiwi expertise that have led us to this point, as well as our compatibility with Start Today’s fantastic company culture.”

Recently placed seventh on the 2017 Deloitte Fast 50, StretchSense is one of New Zealand’s rising technology stars. Start Today currently holds 39.9 percent ownership (fully diluted basis) of StretchSense – which, of course, would grow to 100 percent should it choose to purchase StretchSense entirely. Start Today has until September 30, 2018 to decide if it will buy StretchSense, which currently has a strike valuation of US$120 million.

O’Brien says that no matter what happens, he’s pretty happy with how things have turned out. “It’s fantastic,” he says. “We built this company from nothing pretty much. We started in a university lab in 2006. It’s fantastic. It’s going to be amazing for the local ecosystem.”

And he says Start Today’s investment also means something more about the state of the New Zealand tech sector – that it’s “on the cusp” of a runaway effect of big investment. “That’s what I believe – absolutely.”

This story originally appeared on Idealog. 

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Are you a digital litterbug?

  • Opinion
  • March 22, 2018
  • Michael Goldthorpe
Are you a digital litterbug?

f a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one there to hear it, did it really make a sound? Pretty much everyone has an opinion on that. It’s the pub chat version of Schrodinger’s cat. But since no one was in the forest, nobody knows the answer. And ultimately, it doesn’t matter. At least not until you ask the same question of digital marketing.

Read more

In the belly of the beast: Dr Rosie Bosworth on the pain, pleasure and promise on display at the world’s largest natural foods trade show

  • News
  • March 22, 2018
  • Rosie Bosworth
In the belly of the beast: Dr Rosie Bosworth on the pain, pleasure and promise on display at the world’s largest natural foods trade show

Dr Rosie Bosworth recently attended the world’s largest natural food and products tradeshow in California. What she found was a mixed bag: ‘Natural’ companies peddling healthy snake oil products, as well as promising plant-based protein start-ups that gave her hope for the future. Here, she reports back on the highs and lows of the show.

Read more
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

A loveable rogue by any name: Rogue Society rebrands to to Scapegrace

  • News
  • March 22, 2018
  • Sarah Pollok
A loveable rogue by any name: Rogue Society rebrands to to Scapegrace

A new campaign by Rogue Society Gin declares they have ‘made a name for themselves’ and the New Zealand company doesn’t just mean figuratively. After an international scuffle with an American brewing company that had a beer called 'Rogue', the company has rebranded to be Scapegrace Dry Gin to better promote its product overseas.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit