“Carmelo Bari is my dad and he is a pattern maker from Italy. He immigrated to New York in 1970, leaving behind his entire family in search of opportunity and the ‘American Dream’. His story was the inspiration for starting Bridge & Boro. I wanted to carry on the craft my dad has spent a lifetime perfecting and start something that we can hopefully pass on to future generations. We focus on fit and tailored details that showcase the quality of the materials we use and the craftsmanship of local artisans. We are an authentic New York brand and we’re committed to bringing manufacturing back to the city where it all started for our family over 50 years ago. Our goal is to create quality garments that will stay in your wardrobe season after season. Over the years we’ve created a lot of memories in our Bridge & Boro clothes. It’s time to create yours. Welcome to the Family.”
– Fabio Bari
What’s the story behind Bridge & Boro?
“I actually had the idea when I was going to school in Milan. My friends were all obsessed with New York and I was starting to get really into selvedge denim. No one knew what selvedge denim is so I thought it would be cool to make a jeans line and do something really authentic. American made denim, cut & sewn in New York. I told my dad about my idea and he loved it so we got to work on our sample pair and had a small collection to sell to my friends before I graduated. From there we kept working on our fit, building relationships with factories in NYC, denim mils, button suppliers, etc. It was always a fun side project for my dad and I, but it was always wanted to take it further. Last year I went full time on the line, we expanded our collection to include shirts and hoping to grow even more this year.”
Talk about the 3 principles of your company (fit, fabrics & family)?
“This is the core of who we are. Fit because my dad’s skills as a pattern maker allow us to create a great fitting garment. We are a ready to wear brand and we cant be everything to everyone, but we found a balanced silhouette that is tailored and works for a lot of body types. Fabrics because I am a fanatic for textiles. I spent the majority of my corporate life working for luxury brands like Zegna and Louis Vuitton and that is where I fell in love with the quality of materials they work with. For my designs it really starts there. We source from the best mills in Italy, the USA, and Japan. We’re a typical big Italian family and everyone is involved, not just my dad and I. From my wife to our cousins they have all been so supportive. They are always there to help out and we wouldn’t be here today without that. We got started selling only to friends and family and giving them the “family discount”. Once we started to grow the brand it just didn’t feel right following the traditional fashion model and seeing our collection being marked up so much in stores. When I went full time on the line we shifted course and are now an online-only direct to consumer brand. We are trying to connect with every customer and give them that sense of family, while offering a great value by keeping costs down and skipping the middlemen.”
What inspires you to continue the growth, in personal life and business?
“A constant need to create my own path and always be learning. When I was working in the corporate world I was miserable. I was good at it and it was comfortable, but it just wasn’t for me. I always believed in something greater and that anyone can achieve anything. When my son was born I felt like a big hypocrite keeping Bridge & Boro on the side while I continued to play it safe. Within a month of him being born I put in my notice and left that security behind. My motivation is to be an example for him when he becomes older and to make my dad proud with the brand we are trying to create. Aside from that anytime I meet someone that tells me how much they love our jean or the fabrics of our shirts, it really validates what we are doing and makes me want to keep growing even more.”
What hobbies do you entertain when time allows you?
“My son is 15 months now and he is a wild one so I don’t get too much free time. I’m an early riser so a morning workout is a must. I love music so whenever I get a few minutes to pickup my guiar and play a song I take advantage.”
Who is your fav fashion designer and why?
“It’s a toss up between Dolce & Gabbana and Isaia. They both embody style, quality, tradition, innovation, and do it all while having fun and not taking fashion too seriously. Their campaigns are the best and make me want to go back to Naples and Sicily so bad!”
What was the most important lesson you’ve learned from your father?
“Sacrifice and putting your family first. He’s achieved so much and all of it was for his family to give us a better life. When we go back to Sicily and visit his hometown I love it there, but my life would be VERY different if he had stayed. I thank God every day for the opportunities I have because of him.”
What fashion trends do you follow, especially in the spring time?
“Generally the fashion trends I follow are to make sure what I wear fits right and textures/patterns don’t clash. For the spring, a light scarf is a must. Linen and cashmere blend is ideal. Not only is it a stylish accessory, but it will keep you warm when that lingering winter chill sneaks back up on you.”
What goals you have yet to accomplish this year?
“We are expanding our sales channels in retail joining independent fashion collectives like the new Wolf & Badger boutique opening in SoHo in March. I would really want to keep this momentum going and expand that presence onto the west Coast. Hopefully a trip to LA will be in my near future!”
What does fashion mean to you?
“For me fashion is about how you put yourself out into the world. It means knowing who you are and never trying too hard. In southern Italy, they call that “la sprezzatura”. It’s an effortless cool that just works.”
What makes your brand different from others?
“Bridge & Boro is about authenticity. We’re not some bankers who thought it would be cool to start a fashion company. My dad’s background is tailoring and this is my way of bringing his craft out into the world.”
What’s the story behind “the red stitch”?
“We wanted a unique back pocket design that spoke to the artisanal nature of the collections we were creating. My wife actually came up with the idea, sketched it out, and when we saw it on that first sample knew it was perfect. Everything is made in small batches in local factories right here New York. Each red stitch is designed by hand so every single garment is different, but the same.”