July 13, 2018 / 8:02 AM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Uniqlo owner aims to make on-demand knitwear with Japan's Shima Seiki

* Fast Retailing, Shima Seiki set up joint venture in 2016

* Uniqlo sells Shima Seiki-produced knitwear currently

* On-demand clothing one of fashion industry’s hottest topics (Adds shares, background)

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO, July 13 (Reuters) - Japan’s Fast Retailing Co , parent of the Uniqlo chain, said on Friday it was stepping up co-operation with Shima Seiki Mfg Ltd with an aim to make on-demand knitwear items.

The move comes at a time when the question of how to produce custom-made clothing has become one of the hottest topics in the fashion industry, with online player Zozo upending the space with its measurement-taking bodysuits.

Earlier this month, Zozo, officially called Start Today Co Ltd and the operator of the Zozotown mall, said it was considering working with Shima Seiki.

Uniqlo already sells knitwear items made with Shima Seiki’s whole-garment knitting machines under a joint venture the pair set up in 2016.

Fast Retailing said it was now looking to make on-demand knitwear on a large scale but did not say when this would be available. Uniqlo’s customers can currently order custom-made items such as shirts and jackets.

Shares of Fast Retailing, which this week reported record quarterly profits on the stellar performance of Uniqlo stores abroad, closed up 7 percent on Friday before the announcement about on-demand knitwear.

Shima Seiki shares closed up 6 percent.

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