Ellie Atanasova and Bobby Miloev’s menswear startup, Dragon Inside, is a success story of European integration. Part of a new wave of direct-to-consumer e-commerce powered by the global Internet, Dragon Inside produces custom-tailored suits in Sofia using high-end fabrics from traditional mills in Italy and the United Kingdom.
Dragon Inside counts customers from around the world who are attracted to the chance to go custom for a fraction of the cost of a traditional Savile Row bespoke garment.
“We want to enable men around the world to suit up in style without breaking the bank,” Atanasova says.
“Bulgaria has one of the strongest textile industries in all of Europe, and taxation and the overall costs of doing business are very favorable for an online brand.”
Atanasova believes that its platform in Europe offers key advantages as compared to similar e-commerce menswear companies based outside the EU. “We have almost unparalleled access [to the European market] since we’re not hampered by duties and red tape like our competitors based in Asia.”
Dragon Inside has been global from the get-go. “We have customers all over Europe,” Miloev says, “but our strongest market is the United States. Virtually every interaction we have with a customer or a supplier is international.”
“The U.S. is our strongest market,” notes Atanasova, “but we are seeing significant growth in the EU. E-commerce in Europe is varied, fragmented, and challenging.“
Miloev says access to global customers brings the scale that enables their business to succeed. “Scale is of key importance for production efficiency. We process every order in exactly the same manner, and we’re not really that interested in the country of our customer until it’s time to put the shipping labels on the box.”
An easy online experience and rapid order fulfillment are key to keeping those customers coming back. Miloev emphasizes that Dragon Inside “is a pure e-commerce play,” and relies exclusively on reaching customers via the Internet.
Atanasova and Miloev also underscore the importance of logistics, shipping, and order fulfillment. The company processes payments via Braintree, a division of PayPal, which the co-founders describe as the best payments processing option for businesses based in Europe.
As for shipping, “the service offered by the leading courier companies never seizes to amaze,” says Atanasova. “DHL handles all of our logistics. We have overnight shipping for most of Europe and 2-day shipping for the rest of the world, and Inbound shipments from the mills in Italy and the UK also arrive in a couple of days.”
The ability to fulfill orders in such a short amount of time has provided Dragon Inside with the ability to forego traditional storefronts. “Other fashion brands which started online are increasingly tempted to spend on brick-and-mortar stores,” observes Miloev, “but we’re staying true to the promise of affordable quality and e-commerce efficiency.”