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Real-world showroom proves the winning measure for online tailor Joe Button

A 'clicks and mortar' strategy of a showroom and a focus on online sales have proven successful for the Australian tailoring service.

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Modi Song (l) and Melissa Lee (r). Joe Button

Online tailoring services are proving increasingly popular, with people turning online to grab bespoke shirts and suits at significantly lower prices than the traditional costs.

Joe Button joined the list of Australian online tailors in July 2011. Founders Modi Song and Melissa Lee took a slightly different path having had previous careers in finance with Deloitte.

Song and Lee saw their male colleagues waiting for designer sample sales before shopping for clothing.

"It wasn't the fact that they couldn't appreciate or afford high quality products -- they didn't think it was worth it at the retail price point," says Song.

The pair travelled to Shanghai, learning Mandarin and negotiating with suppliers and tailors to get the business started.

The challenge was scale according to Lee: "we were talking to suppliers who were used to supplying thousands of shirts in an order and we wanted to be able to get one -- it took a lot of negotiating".

More recently Song and Lee opened a showroom in the Dymocks building and the strategy of combining online sales with a physical presence has been a successful one. Since opening in August, sales have increased 50 percent month-on-month and the average shopping basket size is up by 15 percent. Interestingly, this is despite 50 percent of online traffic coming from overseas.

In all, it's made for a solid business model, with Joe Button now "selling more in one week than [it did] in the first six months of business".

The next step for Song and Lee is to expand their offline presence. The pair are negotiating with existing tailors to allow Joe Button customers to be measured up in multiple locations around Australia. After that, the plan is more showrooms.

"Our next stop is Melbourne," says Lee. "After that, there are plenty of other cities to add to our road map."