“All our lives, we have heard our father called Maestro, and that has always made us proud of him, now that they call us Maestro, we know that it is our father who is very proud of us.”
Barbera Sandro & Figli is an artisan company rooted in a long tradition of working with leather to create fine, entirely handmade footwear. For over 50 years, our family has been producing shoes according to our area’s ancient shoemaking traditions.
Founded in 1968 in Biella, thanks to our parents’ will, Sandro and Luciana, Barbera Sandro & Figli has its headquarters in the city.
Just on the occasion of our 50th year of activity, the company obtained the recognition of “Eccellenza Artigiana Piemonte”; an award followed by “Eccellenze Italiane” and “Artigiano del Cuore.” Together with the collaboration with leading companies in the fashion industry, three awards have filled us with pride and satisfaction for our work.
Barbera shoes are unique and completely customizable models because they are created one at a time and proudly Made in Italy.
The desire is to offer a refined, long-lasting accessory to meet each customer’s style and comfort needs. The collections range from the most youthful, modern, and exclusive models to the classic and timeless ones (both for men and women).
Each shoe is produced with the utmost care, aimed at searching for the best materials (strictly Made in Italy), design and development of exclusive processes and colors, such as hand-dyed, stone waxed, and garment-dyed.
Let’s review the history of the company with Andrea Barbera.
Tell us about your journey and how your company was born.
Barbera Sandro e Figli is an artisan workshop producing quality footwear for over 50 years, strictly by hand and selecting 100% Made in Italy materials. The company was started in 1968 by our parents Sandro and Luciana, and over the years we brothers, Stefano and Andrea, took over.
For both of us to continue the family business was a natural path. It was born by learning the trade secrets from our father and, above all, being “infected” by his passion.
The aim is to create unique products with our own hands, capable of enclosing all the beauty and quality of Italian handmade products.
How do you carry on the tradition while keeping up with the times?
For us, making shoes by hand means creating elegant footwear and researching innovative processes and materials to ensure maximum comfort to our customers even when they buy a leather shoe. After long years of studies, we have reached this goal, experience in the field, and the continuous updating on the market news. Besides, we wanted to give a green footprint to many of our collections, selecting eco-friendly materials, such as Merino wool for our iconic Wooly, or ecological rubber for the soles.
We also focused a lot on the digital sphere, making ourselves known and keeping a channel of communication open with our customers near and far. We have opened our social media with Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube and created a website with e-commerce, to be always reachable and tell a bit of us to those who follow us.
What are the iconic pieces that characterize the brand?
Our Wooly unisex sneaker is one of the most appreciated creations. It was created in collaboration with the designers of Reda Active.
It is a New Zealand Merino wool shoe, a tribute to our land known for its fine fabrics. Thanks to this material’s properties, it can be worn all year round (wool provides exceptional thermal comfort) and can be combined with a casual style, but also with a broken dress.
To celebrate our 50 years of activity, instead, we have created our Barberini, Belgian loafers with an exclusive design, made of calfskin, suede, and fabrics and with Flex processing, which combines maximum comfort with an elegant and ultra-trendy style. Last but not least, the Multicolor shoes that have made us known all over the world. This is a line of men’s brogues entirely handmade and dyed. One of their strengths lies in the extensive possibilities of customization, as the customer can choose the color of every single part of the shoe.
Which craft techniques are part of your heritage and still used today?
As already mentioned, we make extensive use of the Black Flex technique, one of our exclusive processes, which increases the shoe softness, giving it a particular aesthetic, but above all, considerable flexibility. Another traditional method that we still use for some models is hand dyeing, which gives the shoes unique shades of color.
Finally, there is the “stonewashed” process: as the name suggests, with this technique, shoes are “washed” with stones to give them a vintage effect, soften the leather and create a unique texture, with a gritty and very current style.
Plans for the future and what strategies are you developing to overcome this moment.
In this period, we are focusing a lot on the digital part: we continue to invest in online communication, but also to implement new services to meet the needs of our customers, such as the Virtual Shop.
The latter consists in the possibility of scheduling a video call on WhatsApp to virtually enter our laboratory and get advice on the sizes and style of our models. Beyond the fact that the relationship with people is one of the aspects we love most about our work, today more than ever, we believe that the human connection, even if at a distance, makes the difference for our customers and us.