• 1522 words • 6min read •
It is during my escapade in Barcelona for the annual DGTL festival that I decided to visit Trait Store. A small minimalist concept store located in the Sant Antoni district. João Novaes, the co-founder of Trait Store, warmly welcomed me and talked about the concept behind Trait Store and the lifestyle they want to convey.
When clothes define your personality…
The name of the shop actually explains the philosophy of this concept store. “Trait” is an English word, as well as a French and a Catalan one. For the three languages, it means a particular characteristic or a feature of your personality.
Considering this, Gabriel Ortiz and João Novaes define “Trait” as:
“A particular characteristic or feature, quality or tendency that a person or an object has. It is somehow something that makes you be yourself.”
This philosophy is directly related to the kind of product they are exhibiting in their shop. Products cross-category: men’s and women’s clothes, watches, sunglasses, backpacks, magazines, footwear, and so many others that have the same goal. It is about inspiring and enhancing the creativity of the customers in their lifestyle. In other words, it is about giving the opportunity to the customer to make a purchase that makes sense.
As a matter of fact, Gabriel and João are putting a lot of effort to select the artists and designers they want to highlight. Thus, our businessmen are doing their sourcing by looking at social media, reading fashion design magazines but also by going to the Paris Fashion Weeks twice a year. The selection of the brands is fastidious, meticulous, and fussy. Because Gabriel and João need to feel connected with the values and the story of their future suppliers.
“We deeply think that a likable product can really inspire us in our way of life.”
A bit more about the owners
Gabriel and João were actually working together in the same company before. They decided to open their own shop four years ago. Actually, they started the whole Trait Store project only six months before the opening of the boutique.
First of all, they looked for a place, and they selected the first fashion designers they wanted to put in their shop. Next, three months before the opening, they broke – just the two of them – everything that was inside the place they chose, to make it clean and entirely empty. Initially, the place was an old fish shop, they kept some elements from it, such as the sailor painted on the shutter, to keep the place authentic. Then, they asked the help of constructors to build up the rest following the identity and the merchandising they wanted to create.
Finally, two months before the opening, they launched the online store and the social media communication with the selection of the brands.
Short timings, but respected 💪.
The Trait Store’s brain
João is the right brain of Trait Store, the creative mind. Talented photographer during his free time (follow @joao.a.novaes), he is also making the visual contents for the website and Instagram. He is the one who is taking care of the brand image and the identity of the shop.
Gabriel is the left brain of Trait Shop, the strategic mind. He is taking care of the customer service, the providers, the stock and the figures. He is the pickiest when it comes to the selection of the brands.
However, they are sourcing the brands and recruiting the staff together.
The two men have some projects in mind, they would love to open a new shop in another area of Barcelona. But today, they are investing a lot of energy in the online business. It is difficult because of the enormous competition out there. That is why they both decided to recruit a social media manager who will take care of all the digital aspect. For the moment, the sales are way better on the physic store, because, I guess, when you look for high quality, you definitely need to touch and feel the product.
A brand selection that conveys Trait Store’s philosophy
Retail is Detail
The selection of the products reveals Gabriel and João’s vision for aesthetics. It is a mixture of international and national brands.
Everything is in the details: the story behind the designer, the design itself, what does it convey, what do you feel when you see and touch the product.
The brands that you will find in the store and on the online store are very hard to find in Barcelona. It is a mixture of minimalism clothing and urban streetwear.
Therefore, you will find A-LOT of high-quality brands from all over the world such as Wood Wood from Sweden, Libertine-Libertine and Samøe Samsøe from Denmark, G. Kero from Paris, Lazy Oaf and Side Party from London, Stüssy from the US, and so many others.
Supporting local businesses
Nevertheless, you will also find local artists and designers that can exhibit their work in the shop and get the chance to be known in the city. It is the case for the brand Ölend, a Barcelona Urban brand that creates handmade backpacks and accessories. I had a big crush on this brand, and I opted for this pretty pastel pink hip pack, 100% natural suede. The Ölend’s atelier needed 10 days to make it, with natural leather that comes from local tanneries.
Ölend is sharing caring values and a sense of details, like our two business owners:
“The story behind Ölend is about traveling. It is inspired by the spirit of the mountaineers from the 40’ and 50’s. Ölend is a committed supporter of a high-quality product, 100% local and made with patience and care”.
For these reasons, I love Trait Store. Because Gabriel and João put a lot of interest in the story behind the products. In consequence, my purchase makes sense since I am actually helping Barcelona’s ateliers and tanneries to run their business. It is about supporting good-quality pieces, made with authentic materials. On top of this, only a few people can find these rare pieces.
This is definitely what I want to involve in my everyday life: to get away from Zara, Mango and H&M’s plastic clothes, and connect more with real materials and in-depth stories.
You can also find the Barcelona’s brand Mundaka Studio, a young and independent brand focused on exploring new formats and new solutions for clothes.
Barcelona: a hard market for Fashion Design
A need to adapt their philosophy to the market
Talking about big brands, João confesses that the Barcelona’s market is not easy every day.
“Barcelona is a tough market for Fashion Design. We have a lot of Inditex brands which give the option to the Barcelona’s inhabitants to buy very cheap clothes. That’s actually sad because it prevents Barcelona people to go deeper, to look for a true brand with good quality and research of sense.”
In consequence, Trait Store has to make concessions and needs to rethink the philosophy of the shop to keep the figures on track.
Gabriel and João propose more commercial brands. These brands still match with the style of Trait Store, they are just a bit more known by the Barcelona’s public.
The challenge for our business owners is not to scare the current customers of Trait Store who are coming to find authentic pieces with a soul and a lovely story behind it.
Though, our co-founders do not need to worried about their current customers since they are loyal and feel part of the involvement of the shop. They understand the situation of the market and that you cannot always do what you want as an independent shop. On top of that, Gabriel and João will still take care of their loyal customers and listen to their needs.
It is about following your instinct
“In Barcelona, there are not so many stores like us. We are maybe 4-5 stores with this kind of brands, and we know each other since our beginnings. All of us agree that the Barcelona’s market is difficult, we see through the years how the market change, how do we need to involved, so we don’t hesitate to communicate and support each other. A lot of small independent shops around us popped-up and closed in a really-short timeline.”
This is about challenging yourself, questioning your decisions and make the best out of it, this is what Gabriel and João are doing perfectly without offending their loyal customers.
However, Gabriel and João can be grateful to have found this spot four years ago. Because now, Carrer del Parlament is becoming a very frequented area thanks to the reopening of Sant Antoni’s market closed for nine years. Indeed, it is the biggest market in Barcelona; therefore it brings a lot of visits from tourists, but also from local inhabitants.
Hopefully, it did not reach yet the touristic craziness from the historical center of the city, and we hope for them that it will never do.
Good news! I got you a 10% discount on the entire e-shop. Have fun with the code CONCEPTSTORIES10% on www.traitstore.com. Available until de 31st of October.
Information Trait Store
Monday to Friday:
11:00-14:00hs / 16:00-20:30hs