When Sanchit Baweja and Yashas Alur were pursuing their undergraduate program from the Australian National University, Canberra, they had to attend numerous formal events and functions, and the big question every time was – what to wear? And when they wanted a different look on their graduation day, they could not find anything good enough to fit their pockets and tastes. After looking at many local options, they found what they liked across seven seas, back home in India – a customized suit, well within their budgets. They were extremely happy to get two perfectly bespoke suits made from fabrics of English mills. And the incident got them thinking about the opportunity and the probability of success such a business could hold. So from figuring out the back-end process to actually rolling it out earlier this year, Buttons 'n' threads is now a reality.
Buttons 'n' threads today ships custom-made suits across the world. They also offer accessories and ties that can be paired well with the suits they make. Customers have a choice between “off the rack” and “custom made” suits depending on the price they are willing to pay. The startup helps you customize your suit according to your taste of -- tweak lapels, buttons, vents, suit linings, collar felt, pockets and even monogramming – among others.
The startup only uses the finest quality wool sourced from mills in England and Italy, to help make the suits breathable and adaptable to climatic changes, says co-founder Sanchit. To place an order with Buttons 'n' threads, a customer has go to the site and by following few simple steps. Styles and looks can be personalised online itself with the help of video measurements, where customers are provided assistance through the different stages.
Once the order is complete in every sense, it is further sent through the cloud to the manufacturer – an outsourced professional and experienced tailoring unit in India. The time taken to fulfill and order is 2 weeks, provided there are no doubts or confusion, says Yashas. The manufacturing process adheres to strict quality standards and a fortnightly audit is conducted to plug any holes.
Once manufacturing is completed, the suits are packed in a suit bag and a delivery box which normally takes about 3 days to deliver the shipment to the customer. There are no shipping charges involved for any deliveries worldwide. Once a customer received the suit he may choose to alter, remake or return the tailored suits. If the customer feels their fit is not good, Buttons ‘n’ Threads offers a $75 credit towards a local alteration. If there are issues with the fabric or the construction of the suit, customers can request for a remake upon approval. If there is something seriously wrong with the suit, a full refund on the purchase is given to the customer.
Currently the business caters to international customers only. Sanchit says the target audience for the startup are men between 21 and 36 years age, who are comfortable shopping online. Buttons 'n' Threads suits start from USD499 for a two piece suit and USD549 for a three piece suit – which includes all customisations and delivery worldwide.
Their reason to operate out of India, but cater to international customers is to reduce the labor and retail costs, which are comparatively higher in international markets than in India. “The fact that we can offer custom made tailored suits, using high quality fabrics at this price point is only because we are able to eliminate the costs that arise out of having a traditional brick and mortar set up. By offering our products online we are able to cut out the middlemen, save retail costs, layers of sales channels and administrative costs. These cost savings are passed on to the consumer and hence we can offer what is considered a luxurious product at an affordable price point,” explains Yashas.We know of another startup Hangrr in India who has a similar business model. In the international market, Buttons 'n' Threads competes with Indochino – a well entrenched player in the space. Sanchit however is confident of being able to stand out, because of the values they bring to the table.
Currently bootstrapped, the two co-founders are mostly managing all affairs at the startup. On the manufacturing side, they have 30 employees to take care of production. Buttons 'n' Threads also has plans to setup offline stores, but that may take time, as they want to first strengthen their online focus. However they do not have any plans to introduce their offerings to the Indian market yet. They however do plan to offer custom made tailored formal clothing for women and kids soon.