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InStitchu opens first showroom in David Jones

Made-to-measure suit company InStitchu has opened a new showroom in David Jones’ Sydney flagship store on Market Street.

It’s the online retailer’s 10th showroom in Australia and its first showroom in the upmarket department store chain, with additional showrooms slated to open in David Jones stores across the country over the next 12 months.

“We’re looking at opening quite a few more over the next few months,” James Wakefield, InStitchu co-founder and managing director, told Inside Retail.

A winning formula

InStitchu has been offering made-to-measure suits online since 2012, when Wakefield and university mate Robin McGowan started the e-commerce company.

They opened their first showroom at 350 George Street in Sydney in 2014, which enabled customers to see and touch fabrics, get styling advice and be measured by a professional before placing their order online.

The omnichannel approach proved to be a winning formula, and InStitchu now has showrooms in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and New York City, which have helped the retailer to nearly double sales every for the past six years.

The e-commerce company expects this growth rate to increase, as it benefits from the much higher level of foot traffic coming to its David Jones showrooms. According to Wakefield, this should offset the cost of being in the department store.

“By being in David Jones, we won’t have to spend the customer acquisition cost we’d normally be spending to drive people to our showrooms,” Wakefield said.

“We know we can achieve the numbers we need to make it commercially viable.”

Order to delivery in seven days

Wakefield’s confidence stems from his belief that shoppers will be quick to convert once they realise they can buy a made-to-measure suit made from high-quality fabrics at roughly the same price as off the rack.

And while InStitchu isn’t an option for customers who want to walk out with a suit the same day – the turnaround from order to delivery currently averages 16 days – Wakefield said the company is constantly refining its manufacturing process to trim production time.

“It’s pretty much better than it can possibly get for most tailor-made suit businesses in our space, but we’re working very closely with our manufacturer to reshape the whole production process,” Wakefield said.

“Over the next two years, we’re hoping to get production down to three days, so we’ll be able to deliver a suit to the customer – either to our showroom or their home – within seven days.”

He pointed out that this would make it competitive with alteration times for off-the-rack suits.

Global expansion

The company’s manufacturing improvements come courtesy of its strategic partnership with Dayang Group, the Chinese suit manufacturer that acquired 13 per cent of InStitchu last year for $3 million.

That partnership also means InStitchu has the infrastructure to rapidly scale up production without impacting delivery time. This may be necessary sooner rather than later, as the e-commerce company is looking to open a second location in the US and preparing to launch in the UK by the end of this year.

Wakefield told Inside Retail the company is looking to enter a second international market this year, but could not disclose where.

At the same time, InStitchu may be facing increased competition in Australia, following the recent launch of a local e-commerce site from Canadian made-to-measure suit pioneer Indochino.

“It will be interesting to see how they go, but we’re not overly concerned with what they’re doing,” Wakefield said.

He said Indochino is not planning to open any showrooms in Australia and that the presence of another made-to-measure suit brand can only benefit InStitchu, as it creates greater awareness of the business model.

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