Fashion, quite often, is a mirror or reflection of the times. And Sharam Sharei, the founder and president of Barcelino Continental Corp. the Bay Area's premier retailer of upscale international clothing for men and women, is certainly an authority on this subject.
Ever since he came to San Francisco in the sixties, Sharei has seen fashion trends come and go, reflecting the mood and spirit of the decade - the turbulent sixties, the jeans-crazy seventies, the upscale eighties and the "casual Friday" nineties. Despite all the fads, - from minis to midis to platform shoes to combat boots - there is one constant in fashion that never goes out of style, and that is style itself.
Barcelino started out as a single store in San Francisco's Union Square and has grown to five San Francisco and the Bay Area locations. In addition, Barcelino, known as the executive men's wear specialist, expanded in 1995 to include "Per Donna" a boutique exclusively for high-level career women located two storefronts down from the men's store In 1983.
Sharei establishing the first Barcelino store at Post and Mason by Union Square in the late seventies, was steadfast on his mission to enhance the already world-famous fashionable reputation of San Francisco and the Bay Area, by presenting current collections season after season, which would exude a spirit of confidence and the feeling of sophisticated elegance, offering handsomely fresh and distinctive alternatives to an executive's wardrobe.
When it comes to fashion, Sharei's passion fills the room. "At Barcelino, we search the world to select, design, produce, and offer the finest collection of international apparel for sophisticated,
fashion-conscious men and women who prefer natural fibers and refined, continental styling over trendy or extremely conservative looks.
The styles we present are contemporary, yet classic. Our philosophy is the lasting stylish image. Our commitment is to world-class service." Because of the insight into the fashion industry, Sharei determined that designer labels did not always measure up to his standards. They generally, but not always, passed the first two tests of style and quality, but fell short on value. Designer customers, he found, had to "pay for the hidden costs of royalties, advertising and promotion." That "two-inch designer label" was an unnecessary and costly premium passed on to customers.
Today, designer labels do not always mean exclusivity. Designer lines, sold in almost all department stores, often are the same from store to store. This replication of merchandise offers customer's limited choices even among the top designers. At Barcelino, up to 70% of Barcelino's exclusive designs are manufactured in Europe by the same manufacturers who produce for the couture designers. In addition, Barcelino offers its customers true exclusivity because it does not sell its designs to other stores in this country
Sharei contends his clothing may not be for everyone. "By no means is it inexpensive. But considering the quality and workmanship, rich fabric and exceptional styling that goes into each garment, Barcelino clothing represents a wonderful value. And there will always be a market for quality, style and value.