Let’s face it. Internet tailoring is like a lottery draw held in the middle of a soggy minefield during an electrical storm: if something can go wrong, it probably will.
Taking your own measurements, sending them off to a faceless organisation on the other side of the world, draining your accounts and praying for the best never does sound like much fun. There are so many questions: how good could the fit be without any (basted) fittings? What if the pattern makers get my wonky shoulder wrong? What if the fabric doesn’t look as good in the flesh as online? What if it’s a scam?
You’re uncertain. You doubt them. I hear you; which is why I will be interviewing a series of these firms to get the individual lowdown on their product and service.
For the first interview, I caught up with Bobby Miloev of Dragon Inside.
What is the Dragon Inside story and what are Dragon Inside seeking to achieve in tailoring?
Dragon Inside is a custom menswear brand that was launched in 2012. Our basic philosophy is that getting a well fitting tailored suit online should be an easy, enjoyable experience, without any compromise of the service or the materials used for the suit.
What fabrics are used to make a Dragon Inside suit?
We only work with wools from traditional UK and Italian mills. Alfred Brown in the UK has been a great partner – when you combine the traditions of the Yorkshire weaving industry with state-of-the-art looms, the results are great. Comero is a traditional Biella mill, which we are also very happy to work with. We just added a flannel by Vitale Barberis Canonico and we are working on a couple of other interesting collections with mills in Italy and the UK. We are proud of our fabrics, and we even have a free sampling service (and a paid express sampling option), so our customers know exactly what they are getting.
How would you compare a Dragon Inside suit to one from a traditional tailor on Savile Row?
Compared to the traditional bespoke (Savile Row) experience, our suits are much more affordable, without making a compromise on the materials or the construction. We strive to deliver the best experience possible, and we discuss each order with our clients before we cut the wool. But if you enjoy the ritual of fittings and if you like to be able to have a cup of coffee with your tailor, and you do not mind paying the mark up & the additional costs associated with retail, the bricks-and-mortar traditional tailors may still have an advantage.
How would you say you are different from other internet tailors?
While there are several popular internet tailoring companies – some of whom have a very good product – none of them work exclusively with fabric woven in UK & Italian mills. They also generally employ a half-canvas construction (which is cheaper and easier to use), while we use a full-construction for all orders, this results in better drape and better durability.
Most importantly, we review and discuss the measurements with our customers carefully, in order to make sure that the fit is right. Other online tailors try to minimize their costs by limiting the communication with the customer to web-forms and email. A common complaint with online tailors is that they leave their pattern makers guessing and making adjustments based on their experience and gut feeling. Our customers can call us or ask us anything through live chat, and we always exchange at least a couple of emails before we get started with the first order of any customer, in order to make sure we are designing the right pattern for him. This reduces the number of first-time orders that need to be altered or remade, saving our customers time and trouble. We use digital patterns, so all repeat orders are a breeze – you can reorder with just a couple of clicks.
We are also the only company to ask for three of photos in the self-measurement process (which only takes 15 minutes and is guided by videos) – this is optional, but very informative. Our pattern makers take the time to look at the posture and the shape of the shoulder of the customer and adjust the pattern accordingly. Still, if there is any issue with the fit (which may happen on first time orders), we offer a $75 / € 60 tailoring credit and free remakes.
Could you tell me what personalisation is possible on Dragon Inside suits?
We have quite a few customization options:
The jacket options include the number of buttons (1/2/3 or double breasted), the vents (1 / 2 / ventless), the lapels (notch / peak / shawl collar), the lining, pick stitching, functional sleeve buttons (surgeon’s cuffs – even of first time orders), functional boutonniere and flower loop, pocket options (slanted / ticket pocket).
– We have 4 waistcoat styles (including single, double breasted and lapels)
– We have a half-lined option for all suit orders. It’s getting a bit chilly in Europe and the USA, but our customers in Australia seem to appreciate it.
– The standard pants options include the number of back pockets, pleats, turn-ups and suspender buttons. Side-adjusters are not standard, but we do add them on request.
Where are Dragon Inside suits made?
We are based in Sofia (Bulgaria), where there is a lot of talent in the field of textiles and tailoring and plenty of businesses producing for bigger brands. This also helps with the deliveries to our European customers – EU customs can be rather nasty, so ordering a suit from one of competitors based in Asia sometimes turns to a trip to customs hell, with exorbitant charges of VAT and duties. Still, most of our customers are based in the US, where guys are more open to getting a suit tailored online.