Do you remember the iconic film The Devil Wears Prada? What about Gucci, Chanel, Valentino, and Louis Vuitton? The number of designer handbag brands is impressive and no matter if you are a business person, a wild-hearted explorer, or a modest homemaker, we all have to admit that handbags are an inseparable part of one’s outfit. But what if we can’t afford an item or even worse – we keep buying and cluttering our wardrobes?
The fashion industry with its rapid production and consumption cycles stands at a critical juncture with 10% of our carbon emissions being made up of fashion products and 93 billion cubic meters of water being consumed by the industry each year. With an increase of 60% in purchases, while 85% of garments are being dumped every year, innovative companies must promote circular economy benefits, such as access to costly garments, flexible fashion choices, and sustainable products. Note that the circular economy encourages apparel manufacturing based on better-quality and sustainable materials, reuse and repair practices, fair production and passing on products with care. Moreover, circular economy models can lead to numerous social benefits, such as a reduction in fast fashion practices, considered modern slavery.
This is where Emprue, a unique clothing-as-a-service circular platform for designer handbags, comes into play. By promoting sharing an extensive range of designer garments and minimizing waste, Emprue fosters a more conscious approach to fashion and challenges the notion of ownership.
Emprue: A visionary Bulgarian startup helping make a global change
Launched in 2023, Emprue has quickly gained traction thanks to the understanding that the future of ecommerce is not in buying but in renting. Emphasizing the urgent need for sustainability and circular economy practices and tackling the desire of consumers to make smart purchases at affordable prices, Emprue has emerged as a game changer with its effective clothing-as-a-service model. This way, through their platform, users can enjoy a variety of rental models and access luxury handbags, while minimizing their environmental footprint and spendings.
Founded by Teodora Yordanova, a software engineer with extensive experience in the fashion industry, and Danail Hadzhiatanasov, engineering manager and startup mentor, Emprue reinvents how people enjoy luxury fashion in a sustainable way. Teodora brings over 10 years of experience in the fashion world, four of which as an Engineer at Dutch luxury giant De Bijenkorf, part of the Selfridges Group. Interestingly, she started as a fashion influencer when nobody knew what that was and now, she paves the way for further fashion innovations. Danail, on the other hand, has over a decade of experience in crafting digital solutions and management in some of the biggest names in the tech world like Backbase – a dutch fintech unicorn and MUI – the most popular React component library. He is also an advisor at Push Marketplace, a leading marketplace for secondhand clothes. Emprue’s founders bring not only a wealth of expertise and credibility to the company but passion for circular economy growth. This way users can access premium products, experiment with styles, and enjoy luxury items without the high price and environmental impact.
“The concept behind it is exciting because the goal is not to limit consumption but to make it more sustainable. Our mission is to empower women to feel more confident by providing them with access to designer handbags without the designer tag price”, shares Teodora Yordanova, co-founder of Emprue.
Currently, Emprue is offering a premium to mid-luxury brands such as Coach, Furla, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Marc Jacobs, and others with soon to add more high-end luxury brands such as Gucci, YSL, Prada, etc.
A major gap in the designer handbag market
What makes the venture revolutionary is the fact that Emprue has no other competitors in Bulgaria and no clear market leaders across Europe. Interestingly, although luxury rental services are in demand, not many businesses offer such services – leaving a major gap in the luxury handbag market.
Given that the total handbag market size reached $49.1B a couple of years ago, it’s not surprising that companies like Hurr, Cocoon, Vivrelle and DCEY compete with Emprue to reach more customers.
That’s why Emprue, founded on the principles of sustainability and innovation, can become a driving force not only in the CEE region but internationally. Projecting revenue for the next few years of 695K EUR and 3.72M EUR (for Bulgaria and the Benelux and Germany markets, respectively), Emprue has captured the attention of industry experts and investors alike and is on the verge of further growth.
Emprue championing progress
Having carved a unique niche, Emprue aims to continue scaling in Bulgaria and also expand to the Benelux and Germany markets soon. These markets are desirable not only for the revenue potential stated above but the logistics advantage of having a single warehouse and inventory for four different locations where users are already familiar with similar services – with Emprue predicting profitability in its first year there.
The company also plans on adding new products and website functionalities, as well as subscription models to cater to users’ needs. Two interesting functionalities are P2P lending and B2B collaboration with established fashion retailers.
With this innovative approach, Emprue has tapped into novel business opportunities and is poised for even greater business achievements. With already interest from a few VCs in Bulgaria, Emprue is now looking for $350K to make designer fashion more affordable, sustainable, and fair. Will you re-wear Prada with them?