Barena Venezia's History as Sartorial Tastemakers
Barena Venezia is a brand that we’ve grown to love over the past few years, as have many of our customers. Yet, the brand has been making waves since the early 90s. The small, family-owned company has significantly changed the way men and women dress inside and outside of Italy. They are godfathers and godmothers of what people call sprezzatura. This translates to the art of nonchalance. To give you an example; someone who might wear a linen jacket, with an unbuttoned shirt or a t-shirt and a wide pair of matching trousers is someone who masters sprezzatura. It is the effortlessly cool, Italian look that we all wish we could pull off. Nowadays, fashion outlets also refer to it as soft tailoring. Barena showed men (they didn’t have a women’s line back then) to dress casually in sartorial fabrics instead of the sport and workwear garments that were popular at the time. The shift had started.
An image of Barena Venezia's SS22 Lookbook - a fine example of 'sprezzatura'
Barena was officially founded in 1993, but its roots go back to 1961. Sandro Zara, the founder of the brand, started in the fashion industry in that year. He was a Venetian entrepreneur who began his career as an agent for a textile company. Over time he grew to love the old school Italian tailoring fabrics, so, out of curiosity, he started visiting the archives of old, shut-down wool mills in the areas around Venice. In these mills, he uncovered original patterns and stitching books, which eventually became the main source for Barena’s collections. In the late 80s, Zara and his partner Massimo Pigozzo (who is still head of design for their men's wear line) decided they wanted to create a brand to which they could apply all this old knowledge. In 1993 Barena Venezia was born. "It was the result of decades of experiences with small sartorial local realities: family laboratories where Italian artisans worked with passion and dedication. The willingness to rely on these knowledgeable hands is what has driven the production of Barena's collections, from the prototype to the final product. In fact more than made in Italy, we can talk about made in 'Venice-land'."
The 'Barena' - This is where the brand takes it's name from. "That place of transition that grazes Venice, not yet land or sea. An enchanted and wild oasis, sometimes submerged and sometimes silent. Indomitable and immobile in the passing of centuries, this is where Barena Venezia has its origins and where its timeless style is born."
To this day Barena still adheres to their fabric-first ethos. Massimo Pigozzo and Francesca Zara, the daughter of founder Sandro, first pick the finest fabrics and then base their designs on these. This ensures that the fabrics are used in the best possible way. When designing, the two draw the most inspiration from the inhabitants of rural Venice. They practised hunting and fishing by sailing on a flat-bottom boat named a sanpierotta, which is also the recognizable logo of the brand. Most designs are based on the 19th-century dress code - elegance even when working on the land.
Massimo Pigozzo (left) and Francesca Zara (right) - the masterminds behind Barena Venezia
Instead of explaining their style, it is easiest for you to have a look at their items yourself here.