Blue in #mydubai
2 December 2015
Cosmopolitan
14 December 2015
barbanerashoes

 

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1) Is there a specific reason for which you chose the name BARBANERA?

There are many explanations. First of all, we wanted to have a strong name, “masculine”, determined, yet able to express our philosophy. An Italian name which also reminded different concepts and influences, since our reference background is quite vast. For this reason, “Barbanera” was and still is perfect. It has a strong and determined sound, it recalls the color “black” and it is the name of a British pirate ( Edward Tatch, called “Blackbeard” indeed), reminding all the bohemian elements, with a “corsair attitude”, of our brand, as well as the fact that pirates( and Blackbeard in particular) were characters always to the limit. Damned, cursed, yet with an incredible appeal, often outlandish and extravagant, a kind of dandies at their own way. Plus, pirates were always part of a crew, and that is how we actually feel.

 

2) How is your team made up?

At the moment our team is made of 4 people, we are two twins couples. It’s my brother Sebastiano Guardì and I, and then Filippo e Alessandro Pagliacci. Let’s say that Sebastiano and I are 100 % operative on the project, meanwhile Ale and Filippo also follow other activities, yet their contribute is fundamental and constant and constitutes a fundamental role in the internal balance of our team. Sebastiano and I were born and raised in Sicily, from a Sicilian father, while our mother is from Bergamo (yes, we are a genetic experiment), Filippo and Ale are “true Milanese”. My father also was an artist and great enthusiast and collector of ancient art, furniture, incisions, and books also of the XVI century. We grew up in a home full of objects of this kind, very old books or paintings and surely this, more or less consciously, has influenced our taste. Personally, I always had a huge passion for a certain kind of “past” concerning art, history and literature. And my brother as well. This, clearly translates itself also in the style, that you obviously express in a new way, yours, yet affected by these strong influences. Ale and Filippo, even if in a different manner, have a similar background and taste, but then everybody declines it in a different way because of the different past experiences. Before funding Barbanera I used to live in Berlin, I was a musician, I played for many rock’n’roll bands and this experience, together with the others, has generated in me a certain taste, interest and cultural references in the widest sense of the term. Sebastiano has worked for a ling time inside the luxury related world and so, he also brought his peculiar point of view. Alessandro is the youngest and when the project has started he was finishing his studies, Filippo already was an entrepreneur, but an atypical one, with a well developed and precise aesthetic sense, completely recognizable. Let’s say that Barbanera is the result of these personalities and these elements so similar yet different from themselves.

 

3) How are the roles divided? who makes what…

Starting from the premise that dialogue and debate among us are constant, with time we have defined more specific roles.

I take care of the development and creative conception of the collection and the general mood, even if I am surely not the classic “designer”. In this I have always been helped especially by Filippo but also Ale and Sebastiano have given me a hand. Besides, I do take care of all the communication part on all online/offline channels and of those which are our marketing and PR activities, also following part of the commercial activity with foreign markets.

Sebastiano is the “big boss”. Our CEO. He keeps everything together, he makes everything coherent and functional, he also is the sales manager, therefore he follows all relationships with the stores, the customers, the retailers and he takes care of a lot of practical things without which we couldn’t go on. Even if he is our CEO, if there’s the need to get down to work he is in first line. Alessandro follows the whole administrative part, but he also is an all rounder, now for example, we are working together on the creation of the new website. The same is for Filippo, who also has a past as a lawyer and thanks to his major experience he plays a fundamental role in the management of really important things for us and into the closing of deals of any kind. Furthermore, we work really close on the creative development of the new collection.

4) The “made in Italy” certainly gives an added value: which are the positive and negative aspects linked to it? Which district have you chosen for the manufacture?

Well, the made in Italy certainly gives an added value. Our aim is exactly to recover and value the Italian manufacturing tradition, supporting it with a strong work on the construction of a unique mood of ours. At the moment, we produce in Tuscany. Anyway, I believe that today’s challenge for the Made in Italy is exactly not to live on its heritage. Also outside Italy they made incredible steps ahead, they are always more competitive for what concerns quality and care for the productive details. And with prices which also are very competitive. Surely, in Italy we still have a tradition and a know how which has to be considered as an asset not to be wasted.

 

5) When was the first shoe produced?

At the end of 2011

 

6) Which are the innovative elements towards which your collections went?

Since the beginning, the aim was to give birth to shoes with a classic taste yet with a different “twist”, a new and strong character. The innovative elements, then, manly regard this concept which needs to be translated into stylistic choices. For example using combinations of materials and colors on shoes. This is actually really “fashionable”, but I can assure you that when we had started in 2011, it was really a niche thing. I still remember that everybody was saying “The bicolor are nice, but they will be hard to sell”. Today they are our best sellers and if we take a look around we can see a lot of well known brands which are investing in these solutions.

 

8) Description of the various models and why you chose other fabrics supported by the classic leather..

Concerning the different fabric choice I remand you to what I said before. Same thing for the various models. What we always tried to make is to create a cross collection, with really classic pieces reinterpreted. We want that pur shoe could be worn by an aged gentleman and a rockstar of a certain taste at the same time, and this because what is in common between two worlds which are apparently far is the personality of who wears the item. A strong personality which is decided and can wear the same model in a different manner and contexts, depending on its tastes or the occasion.

 

9) Model of which you are particularly proud of in terms of selling and model you are proud of without considering the sales

The models I am proud of in terms of sales are all the ones which can have a color or fabric combination like Gatsby, Jerry Lee, Ruskin o i Kerouac. For the above mentioned reasons, it has been a winning bet. Concerning the ones I am proud of in general, there’s certainly one of the newest models that we are going to introduce really soon. It is a boot with a really determined and rock’n’roll character, with a slightly higher heel, very tight on the foot. A boot properly inspired by the 60’s. For years this kind of shoe has only been made by very trendy and fashionable brands, characterizing it with elements which aren’t therefore proper to it, because it was born in anti cultural context like the musical movement of the 60s and 70s which wasn’t related with mass production.

My idea is to remake exactly that model and to bring it to a higher level of quality realization rather than the one made by nowadays fashion houses. To give birth to a really rock’n’roll shoe but made outside of a fashion context only.

 

10) The most flourishing market…the market you are aiming at and why…

Well, we have approached the retail world from a little more than a year, so it still is too early to say. Regarding the markets, at East we are expanding in Japan in particular in stores like Strasburgo, Beams, Barneys Japan and others. We are really exited and happy about what will be our collaboration with Barneys in the United States. Our shoes will actually be available at the New York and Beverly Hills department stores and on their online store. In Italy, apart from our actual customers, there is still a lot to do, there is a lot of potential, even if surely the actual economical situation isn’t one of the best. We are also working a lot for other European countries. Our shoes are already being sold via many e-commerce channels (among them The Corner and No Man Walks Alone, and also a completely Italian reality like Cardano Club).

 

11) Have you planned the opening of a flagship store in Milan or your business ?

Well, the idea of opening a store of ours (not only in Milan..) has always been in our minds, but it’s still early to talk about it. There are many ideas and they not concern shoes only…

 

12) The three men on the planet which could best represent your brand (I am talking about living testimonials since among the passed ones the more appropriate would have been Steve McQueen, James Dean or Gianni Agnelli)

I would say three people which represent three different faces of our brand: the brilliant Australian singer and writer Nick Cave, who gives a unique style to everything he “touches”. Then I would say Johnny Depp, and I think we don’t need to explain why. And then the incomparable Robert Redford for everything he represents between past and future.

 

13) Your average customer…..

As we said we have a really vary clientele and a really wide range. The thing which is common for all of the them is the will to “distinguish themselves with discretion”, which seems to be a nonsense but it’s not by any means, especially in a moment in which menswear seems to have moved towards more self referential and eccentric solutions rather than towards character ones. Today many people don’t think on how to develop a personal style, they rather simply think on how to get noticed, to amaze. We prefer a more determined style rather than an eccentric or above the lines one.

I don’t like a man with jacket and shorts. I prefer a man with a tank top and teared jeans.

Our average customer, instead, is able to be unique even with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, because what matters to us (as we said in other occasions) is the background culture, which means to really have values that show themselves even with each one own style, therefore what matters isn’t what you have but what you are.