Watch designer: Barbas & Zacari interview

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Emmanuel Barbas, co-founder of minimalist watch brand Barbas & Zacari (Click the link to view their collection) to learn more about the brand, its founders and their design process.

1. What is the origin of the company and where did the inspiration for the company name come from?

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Barbas & Zacari was established in Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) in November 2015.

I founded B&Z with my best friend Tas Zacari – one night we were out for dinner and funnily enough, we discussed how we both hated our previous jobs.

We both have business minds and knew there was a gap in the market for a high quality, affordable watch. At the time of our launch, minimalist style watches were booming in the market! We also donate $5 from every online watch sale to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation — this inspiration came from having lost loved ones to cancer, so we thought it would be good to give back to those in need. We love companies and individuals who give back.

2. How has your brand evolved since your first collection?

Our brand has evolved quite a lot. When we launched, we found a majority of our demographic to be customers aged between 16-24 years old. Now our styles have evolved and we are targeting an older demographic. Our customers currently range from 16-35 in age.

Our brand has also grown to be very popular in the watch game – we have over 110,000 lovely followers on our main Instagram account alone: @barbasandzacari – We are also now stocked in retail stores world-wide.

3. What countries are you currently manufacturing in?

We source our materials from all around the world. We use genuine leather that is imported offshore, and we have a manufacturing facility in China.

We have visited China twice over the past year and we are extremely happy with the quality of our watches.

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4. How would you describe your customer?

We would describe our customer as someone who is up to date with fashion and someone who loves minimalist style accessories.

5. How do you want women to feel when they wear one of your products?

Stylish, chic and proud. They’re supporting a great cause, and looking good whilst doing it 😉

6. Who are your style icons?

Nick Wooster, David Gandy and also the bloggers we collaborate with!

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7. Which fashion designers have inspired you?

We have found inspiration from several fashion designers but we tend to use our surroundings as inspiration. For example we were influenced by iconic Australian beaches such as Byron Bay and Bondi for our Limited Edition Summer Range.

8. What aspects of your life do you draw inspiration from for the brand image and products?

We draw inspiration from the places we visit and our everyday living. For example, from our trip to Greece in 2015, visiting iconic beaches in Australia and everyday objects or situations many people may ignore!

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9. Is there anyone you’d like to design for and why?

We would love to design for a few people… we would love to see Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne and David Gandy wearing our products!

10. Do you follow fashion trends?

It’s important to keep up with trends, however it’s also important to set your own trends. We definitely do prefer to work from our own inspiration, especially because we draw most of our inspiration from experiences we have that are unique to us but know others can relate to as well.

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11. Can you guide us through your design process?

The design process can be a tricky one. It usually begins with inspiration from something we have seen or previously thought about. We then create 5-6 different watch faces, including different elements in each design. For example, dots v lines as minute / hour markers, and different style watch hands. Next, we pick out our top 3, and compare them with each other to see if any match.

Once we have our final 3 designs, we make 3 sample watches which generally takes 1-2 months. After receiving the watches, we pick our favourite design and make necessary changes. Our overall design process can take 4-5 months.

12. Are there any new design techniques that you’ve introduced for the first time with your latest products?

Analysing fashion trends and colourways that are becoming popular in the fashion world but using anything and everything we possibly can. For example, photographing certain objects and moments then drawing inspiration from the shapes, compositions and colours we see.

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13. What were your biggest challenges as a company starting out?

Our biggest challenge was coming up with not only a product people loved, but a brand people loved and would support long term. It is easy to simply market and sell a product, but what most people forget is that your branding behind the product is really what drives success and support in the market.