BCN Summer Week brought together for a week four designers who share a seasonal nature as their core common denominator. Swimwear, sunglasses, jewellery and bags and straw bags are the range presented by Ester Milano (Reset Priority), Ana Martí (Coral & Co), Esther Asensio (Mimeyco) and Jorge Mor (Emian Böhe). We caught up with them as they premiere a pop-up concept to reach out to a broader public and be able to explain in person the story behind each piece.
Where did you get the initiative of forming this pop-up?
Ester Milano (on behalf of BCN Summer Week – BSW): We have a product principally focused on the summer season and wanted to create a temporary space where we could directly present all of our collections. We think it’s very important to build a direct relationship with customers; it’s a good opportunity to be able to explain the values behind the labels and the work behind each piece.
You talk about a different initiative. What is the distinguishing feature?
BSW: It’s not a typical market, but rather a pop-up event that allows us to make direct sales as we don’t have our own stores. There are many such events for clothing but not for swimwear or accessories.
What relationship unites you?
BSW: We are designers and labels of accessories and pieces that are principally summer-based, operating out of Barcelona. Our products are distinguished by good design and quality; most of the products are made in Catalonia using sustainable, lasting materials.
Is joining together necessary for your positioning?
BSW: We believe that joining forces will always give a better outcome and that by creating a concept store we’ve been able to attract the public by proposing complete, overall looks.
Is this the first time you’ve got together?
What motivated you to do it?
BSW: The goals were direct sales, positioning and promoting ourselves. It’s summer and that’s the ideal time for us.
You say that 20% is about good work and 80% about promotion. How have you been promoting the initiative? After all, you have to reach the public in a very short period of time.
BSW: It’s been publicised through various means, both social networks and traditional ones. The public is increasingly used to short-term initiatives and pop-ups…we will be open for a whole week with very long opening times to allow everybody to organise a visit, but yes, only 7 days!
Does each person follow their own strategy?
BSW: Yes, but we complement each other.
What do you want to convey with the pop-up?
BSW: We wanted to publicise the creativity of Barcelona fashion designers who focus their product on this time of the year, so that each one can represent their brand image in the best possible way. It’s necessary to train customers because people like to understand what they are buying.
What role do you give to the space? Is it important for it to be emblematic or is it just a way of publicising the product?
BSW: The space is very important and is a fundamental part of the concept we are trying to convey. We think the chosen space has worked very well this time round. It isn’t on a busy street like Born but the public is the right one.
Will you repeat the experience or is it a one-off?
BSW: The results have been very good. We will consider running future events. We have to look into whether we repeat it or if we could do something for Christmas, for example.
What’s the hardest part?
BSW: Getting yourself known. Word of mouth is what works best in the final analysis. Also social networks. We have done some co-marketing which has helped, but it isn’t easy.
Do you worry that people may remember the initiative but not the label?
BSW: In principle the communication has been linked to each label and the decoration in the form of corners makes it possible to position and better recall each label.
The prices might be considered high…
BSW: They’re right for the quality and craftsmanship they offer. We’re talking about a premium positioning.
Your products are highly seasonal. What product diversification do you need to combat this?
Ester Milano (Reset Priority): A collection which we are going to launch in winter.
Esther Asensio (Mimeyco): We are working on handbags made from craft fabrics that don’t have the markedly seasonal nature of a woven straw bag, and on introducing new fabrics, designs and colours to our range. Our goal is to continue to strive to create new, more versatile pieces which can be used year-round. We also want to expand our brand to markets that don’t have such clearly defined seasons, such as Dubai, Mexico or Australia, for example.
How can you compete with cheaper brands coming onto the market, such as Meller or Grey Sunglasses?
Jorge Mor (Emian Böhe): We stand out from other brands by using top-quality optical products and representing the Mediterranean lifestyle and attitude through our designs in classic, easy-to-wear shapes, where sophistication is expressed in the details, both regarding design and technical matters.
How do you go about designing jewellery?
Ana Martí (Coral & Co): I’ve always liked the colours and strength of natural stones influenced by the light of the Mediterranean. I started creating pieces for myself and my friends and later made it into a brand and a profession. I am inspired by natural stones and original pieces or accessories. My necklace and earring models usually arise from these unique elements.
What are they like?
Ana Martí (Coral & Co): All of the jewellery pieces boast a highly artisan production method and I always use natural and semi-precious stones. For example, the colour is achieved with natural, undyed pigments, and some stones come from India.
You often take part in events…
Ana Martí (Coral & Co): I usually take part in sales events, markets and pop-ups which I attend in person to be able to explain and convey my label’s philosophy.
You work hard on and take great care of the details regarding the material used in your bags. How can you compete on price?
Esther Asensio (Mimeyco): It’s not a fast-fashion product. It’s designed for a woman who values the difference between a hand-made, quality item with unique details and an exclusive design. We raise the profile of traditional craftsmanship, preserving certain trades that are on the point of disappearing and introducing elements from the past into the modern and contemporary lifestyle, and we are committed to Spanish-made goods.
How do you achieve that?
Esther Asensio (Mimeyco): By collaborating with local craftspeople who work the palmetto the old-fashioned way, with small textile workshops and traditional ikat fabrics from Mallorca. I wanted to recover things I remembered from my youth that you can’t find any more.
What differentiates your bikinis?
Ester Milano (Reset Priority): All of the prints and designs are our own, guaranteeing you won’t see another like it. We use materials with Extra Life Lycra, which is longer-lasting.
Being from Italy, how have you committed to the Catalan market?
Ester Milano (Reset Priority): There is a longstanding swimwear tradition here, although it took us a while to find the right place to do the production work. The brand started out making everything in Italy, now it’s about 50% here and 50% there and the idea is to produce solely in Catalonia.
Are you thinking about opening your own store?
Ester Milano (Reset Priority): It’s tricky to jump from today into tomorrow, there’s a whole process and you have to calculate your steps well.