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Local entrepreneur fuses tech and fashion to custom design shoes and clothing

Margie Manning

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ModernCasual 3D configurator

Brian Sallee, a serial entrepreneur with deep roots in the Tampa-St. Pete technology community, has a new venture.

ModernCasual is an e-commerce store that offer business-appropriate shoes and apparel that can be customized using 3D configurator web software. There are options to change colors, texture, burnishing and other product components on the website.

Brian Sallee

“I’m always looking for appropriate fashion that works. Meeting with leadership and executives and a lot of entrepreneurs, there’s a balance – how do you wear something that’s comfortable and confident in the boardroom and equally comfortable in a coffeeshop. I am always looking for fashion in that middle ground, not T-shirts and jeans, but not a three-piece suit,” Sallee said. “What we built is a fusion of technology and fashion.”

Sallee is a pioneer in cloud computing who sold his company, Reviora, to Tribridge, a Tampa cloud and software giant, in 2015. After Tribridge sold to DXC Technology (NYSE: DXC), Sallee moved to DSM, a Lakeland data center, as vice president of channel and marketing.

Earlier this year he founded Avorit, an advisory firm to help technology companies scale, and it has been growing, he said.

ModernCasual is not part of Avorit.

“ModernCasual was an idea I got about six months ago, incorporated, came up with a brand and decided to do it for fun,” Sallee said. “The average consumer will think it’s a fashion company, but it’s a technology company at the end of the day.”

Millions of combinations

Right now, ModernCasual’s products predominantly are shoes, with about 40 to 50 different styles for dress, casual and golf for both men and women. There is some clothing, as well as bags and accessories.

Products are displayed in three dimensions with tools to move the product around and visualize what the finished product will look like. For shoes, users can customize about 10 to 12 parts and colors. There are millions of potential combinations.

“It’s very unlikely you will run into someone wearing the same ModernCasual shoe you have,” Sallee said.

ModernCasual has partnered with an open source app, called FeetSizr, that allows users to scan their foot using their smart phone to get a precise shoe size.

ModernCasual shoes are made to order by a factory in Europe and generally delivered in three to four weeks. The prices are comparable to other retailers and range from $100 to $300, with most in the $200 range.

While there are similar businesses, their products sell at a higher price point, Sallee said.

The site launched one week ago, on Nov. 18, and marketing is primarily word of mouth right now.

There’s no staff and very little overhead.

“It’s a bit of an experiment, because I talk with a lot of entrepreneurs about how to scale their business without having a lot of overhead. This is my own guinea pig to see how well it scales without very much overhead.”

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