Last week in Concepcion, I had a chance to meet one of the entrepreneurs behind made-in-Chile men’s and women’s shoe brands Bacinari and Burano. They make some pretty unique shoes and are thinking through innovative ways to deal with their direct-to-consumer sales model:
Photo credit: featured photo courtesy of Bacinari.
The idea came initially when founder Javiera Gómez’s brother asked their father to make a pair of shoes for him. Their father, who has been in the business for years, complied, and Javiera’s brother started getting compliments and questions about the shoes.
Soon after, in 2017, Javiera tapped her father as a supplier and developed a men’s line of shoes under the brand name Bacinari.
In March 2018, she developed a separate line of women’s shoes under the name Burano Cuero & Diseño (“leather and design”).
Flavio Llanos, her business advisor (and husband) told me that they realized quickly that they needed to separate men’s and women’s shoes into two separate brands.
He observed that men see and value shoes differently then men. It made a lot more sense to separate branding, social media and messaging into different silos.
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Bacinari, the men’s brand, features funky desert boots, attractive casual chukkas, casual oxfords, and perfect-for-the-beach loafers.
Brightly-colored shoelaces and bold accents feature throughout the line.
The shoes start at 69,990 Chilean Pesos, roughly $100 U.S. dollars.
Burano, the women’s brand, offers Chelsea boots in a variety of colors, moccasins, oxfords, thick-heels, flats and more in stunning textures and color combinations. (Is that real cobra?)
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Today the company does about 65 percent of their business via a newly-expanded storefront in Barrio Italia, a neighborhood of Santiago, Chile.
They sell the remaining 35 percent online.
Sadly for those of us outside Chile, the website only permits shipping to addresses in Chile for the moment.
Javiera and her team rely heavily on digital tools to create communities around their shoes and to drive fans to their physical store in Barrio Italia. For example:
- The company’s online storefronts are built using Portugal-based e-commerce platform Jumpseller.
- Bacinari and Burano use Facebook and Instagram to build brand awareness. Social media really drives foot traffic to the store. (They’ve done a heck of a job: As of this writing, Bacinari has more than 27,000 followers on Instagram. Not bad for a brand that hasn’t even started marketing in English or ship outside of Chile.)
- The brands also use Whatsapp and Facebook messenger to provide instant customer service.
As interesting as the shoes are, what really caught my attention was the thought Javieria and Flavio are giving to develop innovations around manufacturing, bricks-and-clicks, and sustainability:
- The entrepreneurs are testing 3D printing of soles, which in the meantime are sourced from Peru. On-demand 3D printing, combines with an app scan of feet, would enable customers to get a bespoke fit.
- Like other digital-first retailers such as Bonobos, Bacinari and Burano are looking towards pop-up installations in third-party stores to enable customers to try on and touch the shoes.
- Javiera and Flavio are exploring sustainable materials including Pinatex, a leather-like material made from pineapples produced by U.K.-based Ananas Anam.
Javiera and Flavio are emblematic of the dozens of amazing entrepreneurs transforming men’s clothing, shoes and accessories. It will be interesting to follow their journey as their products evolve and, hopefully, as they open up to customers in the United States and beyond.
About JakeJake is an expert on men’s style and fashion based in Washington, DC. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs and innovative clothing and lifestyle brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. He has published hundreds of articles on style and apparel, and regularly interviews small business CEOs and startup founders about industry trends. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine.
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