Slipping on the jeans, I was immediately ready to go door-knocking. “Have you heard the good news about ZOZO?” If you haven't, let me enlighten you.
What Is ZOZO?
ZOZO is a Japanese online clothing store that recently expanded into Western markets - so far, so normal. What makes ZOZO different is that it claims to tailor your order to your measurements, without requiring you to mess about with a measuring tape. All you need is a smartphone compatible with the ZOZO app, and their free (shipping excluded) ZOZOSUIT.
The ZOZOSUIT consists of a black Spandex turtleneck and tights, adorned all over with white circles. Not terribly fashionable, but you aren't meant to leave the house in it. Instead, you put it on and use the ZOZO app to scan your body, from which ZOZO will be able to determine your measurements. You can then order your clothes from the ZOZO store, custom made to fit you.
I was invited to try ZOZO when it launched globally late last year, and though I'm typically not a fan of being scanned for anything other than medical reasons, I was intrigued. I've always had difficulty finding jeans that fit, and my short stature means I'm often left rolling up hems lest they wear down under the bottom of my heel.
As such, the idea of tailored clothes has always appealed, but the cost wasn't something I could bear. ZOZO's offer of customised jeans at a lower price and effort played neatly to my sartorial desires.
Getting Scanned In The ZOZOSUIT
However, before I could try the ZOZO jeans, I'd need to get scanned. And in order to get scanned, I'd need to put on tight black Spandex in front of a bunch of strangers.
Not wearing Spandex up to this point in my life has been a conscious choice, made and strictly adhered to ever since I first considered dressing as Batgirl. However, like Batgirl, I also know how to make personal sacrifices in order to gain knowledge for the greater good.
Those ordering the suit online will have to supply their height, weight and gender to receive one that fits, but mine was presented to me after I was quickly appraised by a ZOZO representative. Then I headed off into a tent to get changed.
I thought I’d feel self-conscious in the ZOZOSUIT, but instead I felt like Catwoman - or like I was wearing Catwoman's pyjamas. There's something about wearing a sleek black Spandex suit that makes you feel graceful. I don't feel not-self-conscious enough to share photos, but trust that I looked like a nighttime stealth version of Miraculous Ladybug.
To scan my body, I placed my phone in a supplied cardboard stand on a table, then stood a couple of metres away with my arms straight and away from my sides. I then rotated to face each hour when instructed by ZOZO's app.
You'll need help if you're deaf, as the process relies on audio cues. I also asked how the ZOZOSUIT would work for physically disabled people - someone missing a limb, for example, or who uses a wheelchair - and was told that in such instances it would be best to contact ZOZO directly so they can assist, as regular scanning wouldn't be accurate.
But if you can get scanned, you'll end up with a rather unflattering wire-frame model of yourself labelled with your measurements. Then it's off to the ZOZO online store or app to choose your clothes.
Ordering The Clothes
ZOZO's current offerings aren't flashy, with a modest selection of basic tops and jeans, but it does have good staples.
I was going to get the straight-cut jeans, but was advised that the cut is closer to American-style than Australian, thus likely to be too baggy for my tastes. ZOZO customers' preferences apparently tend to vary across different countries, with Asian men preferring tighter and more fitted clothes while American men opt for boxier shirts and baggier jeans.
Though you can manually alter your order, requesting that a hemline be a few centimetres higher or a sleeve a few centimetres longer than ZOZO recommends, I felt it safer not to play tailor. Instead, I opted for a pair of slim tapered jeans, which a ZOZO representative confidently informed me were well suited to shorter people. I also ordered a fitted white V-neck T-shirt, because it's hard to go wrong with that classic combination.
Then the wait. I was warned it would take about four weeks for my clothes to arrive, and indeed, a month passed before I could sample the fruits of my body scan.
Unfortunately, the T-shirt I received was a cotton crew-neck T-shirt rather than the fitted V-neck I'd requested. A quick email confirmed I'd been sent someone else's T-shirt, and the one I wanted was soon arranged.
However, though the crew-neck was cut to a stranger's measurements, it was hard to tell anything was off when I wore it. It's a T-shirt, after all - they aren't terribly fitted garments in the first place. Making one to measure just seems excessive. Though the cut is attractive and the fabric marvellously soft, I don't see the point in ordering a T-shirt from ZOZO.
The jeans, on the other hand, were cause for excitement.
Usually, buying jeans is an exercise in compromise. It might fit in the hips but the legs are too long, or the length is right but it pulls at the crotch. But when I pulled on the ZOZO jeans I felt like Cinderella in a gritty modern version of the fairy tale (let's ignore whatever she was up to that caused her to leave a party without her pants).
No rolling of hems, no hunting for a belt. They were incredibly comfortable - more comfortable than any non-stretchy jeans I'd worn before. The jeans felt as though they were made for me, and I couldn't wait to wear them out.
I'd been concerned the tapered style would result in a baggy butt, and it's true that area could look better. These aren't to be worn when you're trying to make someone fall in lust.
But the jeans are passable if not the most fashion forward, and their comfort and convenience means I can seem myself throwing them on without a second thought. For a decent, comfortable basic, they serve their purpose well.
Others have had less positive experiences with ZOZO, and I admit I remain sceptical of how a buttoned ZOZO shirt will perform. I don't know that I believe ZOZO has found a solution for the button-up boob gap.
But for me, I'd strongly consider revisiting ZOZO for my next pair of jeans.