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Winter Headwear Brand BARTS Talks Venture Into Summer Market

Having been around the winter headwear market for well over 30 years now, Dutch-based BARTS recently branched into summer products. So we took Mariët Wieske, Sales Manager, aside for a quick chat about the decision behind the move and how it’s been going. 

Can you give us a brief history of the brand?
In the summer of 1986, our founder/CEO Bart Koene started selling handmade, colourful swim shorts to the beachgoers of Southern France. One of the girls helping him out decided to wear some of the fabric around her head to protect her from the sun. Soon, customers were asking where they could buy this cool bandana. That was the kickstart of BARTS. And three decades full of unique headwear and other high-quality fashion accessories. Designed and distributed from our warehouse in Amsterdam to retailers throughout Europe.

What are currently your best-selling product lines? Any new categories for 2024?
The best-selling product line is still the beanie. We’ve also seen an increase in the sales of other types of headwear. Bucket hats, flat caps etc… Headwear that can be worn when it’s not as cold outside and the winter is milder. For the summer collection we see a more even spread of sales numbers, which is quite interesting. Retailers are focussing more on offering a complete summer collection. Our collections match this by offering headwear, swimwear, and beachwear like kaftan’s, pareo’s and beach dresses. Also, the Raffia hats, which are in a little bit of a higher price range and unique to BARTS, are very popular.

Sustainability is high on our agenda. For new collections, we tried to focus on increasing the overall percentage of sustainable materials. Our summer ’24 collection is at 40% and we work closely with our suppliers to increase this percentage with each collection. BARTS swimwear

You’re predominantly known for your range of winter accessories but have recently
expanded into swimwear to complement your summer accessories, what made you go down that avenue?
It started with some of our clients making inquiries about a possible summer collection. They had space in their store(s) that was used for our winter collection and wanted to keep using this space for BARTS during the summer. This resulted in the start of our summer headwear collection. After five years of summer headwear, the collection broadened to include a swimwear and beachwear. There was always an ambition at BARTS to design a swimwear collection. At first, our agents were a little bit surprised because swimwear is a league of its own. Luckily, they now recieve to our summer collection with great enthusiasm every year.

What is currently your top performing European market and why?
Next to the Dutch market, we consider Germany to be our biggest. It has a good mix of Sports and Fashion clients: the two branches our collections focus on. This makes our range of products a good match with the German market and its consumers. BARTS beanie design

What is your distribution set up in Europe, where do you sell more – through your online shop or with distributors/retailers?
We value both our online customers and our distributors/retailers. Therefore, we want BARTS to be available through different channels, both online and offline. The presence and existence of physical retailers is something that is very important to us. BARTS started and grew by selling to retailers and that’s why we value them a lot. We like to be a brand that is accessible through physical stores, and we would like to stimulate the shopping experience in physical stores.

How is the brand working on becoming more sustainable?
We work and communicate closely with our suppliers to find sustainable solutions. This goes for the use of materials but also the daily operations. This means good working conditions, fair wages, animal welfare and much more. Our upcoming W25 collection consists of 49% sustainable materials overall. We’re actively working on increasing this percentage with every collection we put out. Besides the products themselves, we are also making steps in the responsible production of our branding, trimmings, and packaging. BARTS lifestyle

Why should retailers’ stock Barts’ products?
BARTS is a unique brand with quality products in an attractive price range. Our collections suit the market and are attractive to a wide audience. All this results in high numbers of resales at our retailers. We are also a company with more than three decades of experience. Because of this, we know the market we operate in, and we deeply value the relationship with our customers. We have an in-house warehouse which allows us to offer quick deliveries and options for restocking throughout the season, a strategy that is suited to our clients’ needs.

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