28 Sept 2007
Dress Sense(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2007)
|Bariano Pty Ltd started out in Melbourne in 2005, and has established a reputation for eye-catching designs and excellent dress sense|
In two short years, Melbourne-based Bariano Pty Ltd has managed to establish a reputation for eye-catching designs and excellent dress sense in high-end fashions.
"We started off in Melbourne, in 2005, because that's where my mother owns a factory that does sub-contract garment manufacturing for other firms," says CEO Quang Huynhdai. "My business partners and I mulled over a few ideas about how to use our fashion know-how to launch a business and decided to start our own designer label, and that's how Bariano was born."
Three designers in Melbourne are responsible for producing the firm's three main ranges: evening wear, designer wear and casual wear. "Our designers get inspiration from fabrics such as metallic satin prints and soft quality silks, which we source worldwide," says Mr Quang. "Our signature look, though, is the glamorous cocktail dress that leaves an everlasting impression at any special occasion."
Bariano creations now draw crowds wherever they are displayed. However, it took some time before the designers got it right. "Many of our first attempts were mistakes," jokes Mr Quang. "We wanted to create something special in evening dresses, but at first we could not get the fabric right. Even finding the right supplier and the right price-point was difficult. It was all highly experimental."
Gradually, everything started to come together and the designs began to make sense - and attract attention. "Now, wherever we go the business just grows," Mr Quang smiles. "We fully understand how everything in the fashion industry depends on design and quality, especially at the high-end."
Australia has proved a good market for Bariano over the past two years. Although the firm was initially conservative in its marketing approach, staying close to its Melbourne home-base, since the start of 2007 it has expanded its domestic reach pan-Australia.
"It has proved very rewarding in terms of media exposure, people calling to check the goods and being able to meet those involved in the business," says Mr Quang. "While Bariano may be a very young label, it is now sold in more than 200 retail outlets across Australia, and sales are very good."
Australian culture, he observes, is modelled on both the UK and the US. Despite this, Mr Quang says that he will pursue a presence in Asia because "we feel we have a good opportunity there".
The impetus to try its luck overseas came in 2006, when a Bariano team sent to Asia to source garments for its domestic market came back empty-handed. That came as something of a surprise. "Then we thought why not try and fill that gap by bringing our own label to Hong Kong instead," says Mr Quang.
"In Hong Kong," he continues, "there are lots of glamorous dresses, and lots of colour with many layers, and it seems that the market goes from the casual to over-the-top full-length dresses with nothing in-between. We did not see many of the elegantly simple dresses of the kind that we make and sell successfully to stylish women in Melbourne."
This led to Bariano taking a booth at Hong Kong Fashion Week 2007, where its designs proved to be crowd-pleasers. "I believe Hong Kong Fashion Week is a lot better than many other fairs," Mr Quang says. "People come to show off high-end designs and win real orders, and that means we can meet genuine buyers of high-end fashion, and not those who want the huge volumes offered by mainland mass-producers."
Apart from promotion, the time spent in Hong Kong provided the firm an opportunity to source garments, fabric and trim, in addition to checking out the latest trends and styles. "We are always looking for new materials and suppliers," says Mr Quang. "For example, we met a handbag manufacturer and placed a large order." The company also visited the Canton Fair to source products for its Australian market.
Asked if the firm has major plans for the future, given it now has a finger on the pulse of the fashion world, Mr Quang is surprisingly reticent. "We don't really focus that much on the future," he confesses. "We are too busy getting our lines out as it is. However, we may add more labels and find some new markets."
Sometimes a fresh face can bring lots of new ideas, as seems to be the case with Bariano.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON
Bariano Pty Ltd