A platform where you can design your own clothing and other items, and which also allows users to buy and sell items among their peers, UP-T is set to take the e-commerce world by storm.
“Our users can create, buy and sell personalized products on our platform at a fast pace.”
Tomoyuki Miyamoto, Managing Director, Marui Orimono Co., Ltd.
Customization is one of the latest trends taking hold in the fashion and clothing industry. While the business of customized T-shirt printing has existed for decades, the internet and e-commerce-related technologies are helping to take the concept to a whole new level – with Marui Orimono, the Japanese textiles company behind the groundbreaking platform UP-T, leading the charge.
Initially launched in 2015 to provide original customer-designed T-shirts on demand, the UP-T service has since expanded to include smartphone cases as well as other accessories and novelty goods. The platform is currently available in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, with the English version set to launch in April as Marui Orimono aims to bring the service to a wider global customer base.
“The initial idea was for customers to design their own T-shirts for personal use, but we have further launched a system where you can actually sell your designs to other users. I would say that our first innovation was expanding to further product line-ups, and the second innovation was creating a platform where users can design T-shirts and then sell those designs to other users. For example, a T-shirt costs approximately JPY 2000 (around $15), but a customer can sell their design, and imagine that design sells for JPY 3400. Now the user can make JPY 1400 just from their design,” says Tomoyuki Miyamoto, Managing Director of Marui Orimono.
“The third innovation for the service comes in the form of monozukuri, and through manufacturing technology. We have been able to introduce a 3D-modeling system where you can see a product in 3D online. In April, we are launching a service that utilizes recent innovations in consumer-level 3D scanning technology. By taking multiple photos that cover 360 degrees of an object, you can scan that object in a 3D space, and we are then able to print it using our 3D-printing technology.”
Of course, Marui Orimono is not the only company to offer a customized T-shirt printing service. Many large clothing brands allow customers to print their own designs in store, while online there are platforms such as Amazon’s Merch which offer similar services to those offered by UP-T. So what makes the Marui Orimono platform stand out from the crowd in a competitive market?
“Certain large brands have a limited number of items you can print on, but with UP-T, we actually have a choice of over 3,000 items for our customers. Our three-day delivery is also another core strong point of the brand, and if I’m correct, competitors’ products take five to seven days for delivery,” Mr. Miyamoto responds. “Our strength lies in our integrated product and sales system where we have developed our own production scheme. Currently, 97% of products are made in-house. I would say our biggest competition at this point is the Merch by Amazon brand, but at this point, they have only been able to produce T-shirts. Our products are very price competitive, with customers considering the price as very reasonable.”
With the English version of the website ready for launch in April, Marui Orimono hopes to take the U.S. market by storm, while the launch of its NFT service – which allows users to buy any of the one million images that have been sold through the platform – is expected to create a lot of buzz around the UP-T brand.
“For our overall overseas strategy, we would like to start by focusing on the U.S. market, and then further expand from there. What is interesting is that we have a marketing page on which users can sell their designs. Currently, this page is only offered to Japanese, but we want to open this up globally,” adds Mr. Miyamoto. “Anybody should be able to access this page and order designs. I actually recently became aware of DeepL, and I am thinking we could possibly use their automatic translation neural network to translate back and forth from English to Japanese. By using automatic translation, Korean users can purchase designs from Americans and Japanese for example. We can enable the worldwide sharing and sale of original design work. This is the direction we are focused on right now.”