“We colorize our shining kids’ lives.” This is how Barcarola, owned by the company Alas de Ícaro, presents itself to the world of children’s ceremonial fashion. The fact of the matter is that colors and sheen have distinguished their elaborate silhouettes for three decades now. The nobility of their natural materials and the effectiveness of their technical textiles are expertly combined to create modern-day romantic designs. On the cusp of the presentation of their spring/summer 2017 collection at Pitti Bimbo and FIMI, Javier Rodrigo, Barcarola’s General Manager, gives us a preview of the upcoming projects by this children’s high fashion brand, currently exporting 65% of their production.
-How was Barcarola founded and what’s the story behind the name?
- A barcarola is a folk song played by Venetian gondoliers during the romantic period. They’re the romantic echoes that are the driving force of our products. The brand was established in 1987, over 30 years ago. The initial idea was to open a kids’ fashion store where we could market our own designs, and it ended up becoming a major textile company.
-Barcarola defines itself as children’s couture. How did you come up with this luxury positioning?
-We adopted that positioning 15 years ago in order to differentiate ourselves from Asian products and low-cost chains, so as to specialize our offering and find our market niche. We managed to get there because of the quality of our raw materials and the careful preparation and design of each one of our garments. Technology allows us to achieve economies of scale, but the craftsmanship guarantees the added and distinguishing value of our work. We look after every last detail of our products features, from the smallest button to the final packaging, and this process applies to finishes, accessories, even hangers….
-What materials do you use?
-Natural materials like cotton, linen, silk, and wool. We also use technical textiles like neoprene in order to keep up with trends. Our design team attends the biggest textile fairs, and we’re never persuaded by price when including certain materials in our collections. Quality always comes first. For instance, our lining is always crafted in cotton in order to avoid allergies.
-How is your catalogue structured?
-Barcarola presents four collections a year: Communion, Baby, Summer, and Winter. The first two are clearly differentiated with regard to product and age. The most diverse are the Summer and Winter collections, since we create a broad variety of families and encompass a full range of sizes, from 1 to 18 years. We try to cover any and all needs that kids might have whenever they have to show up to a formal ceremony dressed to the nines.
-Where do you market your Communion line?
-There are a lot of markets where this is an important sector. Italy, Portugal and Latin America are clear examples.
-In 2015 you presented an accessories line.
-It’s a booming collection. The public is looking for a complete on-brand look. We launched belts, bags, and shoes so our customers could dress their kids from head to toe.
-Where does production take place?
-Our products are 100% made in Spain. This is a requirement by our international customers, in addition to being a company commitment we’re extremely proud of.
-What’s the make-up of your staff?
-We have 24 employees on staff, led by the second generation of the family. We have Design, Pattern, Production, and Distribution departments, in addition to Finance and Sales divisions. Each of these has a quality assurance manager.
-Your online store seems to be directed at professionals mainly.
-Our online store is aimed at professionals and the final customer, although we do try to steer our final customers to our points of sale so they can receive personalized attention. We think our pieces need to be seen, touched, and tried on.
-In 2015 you opened single-brand stores in Doha and Riyadh. Why the Middle East?
-Barcarola has been very closely linked to the Middle East since the start. It’s a market we know very well, and our customers, in turn, know us very well.
We still work with local business associates to open new Barcarola stores in the short term. In 2016 we celebrated the grand opening of a retail corner in Oman and in 2017 we’ll be opening our first corner in Abu Dhabi.
Moreover, our Saudi Arabian partner, with whom we’ve opened a store in Riyadh, is currently scouting locations for a second store, which we could be opening by year’s end or at the start of 2017.
We entered Kazakhstan through multi-brand retail channels with our fall/winter 2016 collection and we’re currently in negotiations to enter Iran by 2018.
We also just opened our first Barcarola store in Spain, in Valencia.
-How would you describe Barcarola stores?
-We adapt our stores to the market in question, much like we do with the products we sell. Patterns for the Middle East, for instance, need to meet a completely different set of requirements than the ones we use for Europe, and that’s how we do it. As for the store layouts and designs, we try to adapt to the market’s tastes without betraying the brand’s distinguishing features. However, in the Middle East, touches of gold and opulent detailing prevail, while our Spanish store is more minimalist.
-Do you have plans for other markets?
-In the short term, our target market is the United States, where we have what we refer to as occasional sales, but where we’d like to establish a solid retail presence. We already have an agent in Texas for different multi-brand sellers and a distributor in New York. Florida is another state where we know that products made in Spain are widely popular.
We’re also making our first contacts in Latin American countries like Chile, Peru, Panama and Colombia.
In Europe, we have a presence in Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom, where we’re currently on the hunt for distributors to build a presence.
-What’s Barcarola’s export rate at this stage?
-Sixty-five percent of our revenue from 2015 was from exports, and our current forecasts for 2016 are even higher.
-Do you have anything to share with us that might hint at what we’ll see at Pitti Bimbo and FIMI in coming days?
-The spring/summer 2017 collection combines street styles, with a hint of the current vintage trend, and a contemporary feel. It includes colorful palettes that range from the purest white to the brightest lime green, in addition to elegant shades of pink, bright reds, corals, and blues…. The final result is a young, elegant collection that doesn’t shy away from sophistication.
Headquarters: C/Manuel Sanchís Guarner, S/N. 46960 Aldaia, Spain
Export rate: 65%
Main markets: Middle East and Europe
Fairs: Pitti Bimbo, FIMI and Magic Day by FIMI