Tuesday, February 5, 2008

All in the Family

Elena Comella and her cousin Gonzalo are the fifth generation of Comellas working in the family retail business. When the founder died his widow emptied the store and turned it over to her son with the injunction to start anew. The changes from one generation to the next since then may not have been as dramatic, but each one has certainly left its mark.

Elena started working in the family business at 17 (officially that is, because she’d spent lots of school vacations helping out where she could) to open the first E4G store. The family was smart – when they saw that the daughters of their customers needed a place to shop, they opened up that concept. Now there are five. When the opportunity to open a shop in the Barcelona airport arose, she got everyone onboard and went for it. Now there are five of those too. And even amidst jean mania (and yes, Elena says we’re getting over it) they stood by their chic reputation, developing E4G as a laboratory for edgier brands like Miu Miu, Philip Lim and Anne Demeulemeestier rather than chasing the young customer.

Now you’d never guess from her stylish frame or delightfully attentive manner that she’s the hard-working mother of 4, travelling the globe in search of new and beautiful things that will live up to the family name.

Of course besides the three Gonzalo Comella catering to the serious shopper who can appreciate D-Squared, Marc Jacobs, Nina Ricci, Diane Von Furstenberg and company, five E4G, five Airport shops where they can cater to capriccios and the franchises of D&G and Emporio Armani in Cataluña, they’re planning for the future, but it’s too early to spill the beans about their new projects. The fancy labels in their gorgeous stores all over Barcelona may be a far cry from the stockings and undergarments their great great grandfather sold when he moved to Barcelona from Vic to hock his wares, but their work ethic and commitment to their customers must look a lot like what it took to get the whole thing going in 1870.

Gonzalo Comella
Via Augusta 2
tel 93 416 1516
m-sat 10:30 - 20:30

Capitá Arenas 3-5
tel 93 280 6525
m-sat 10:30 - 20:30

Passeig de Gràcia 6
tel 93 412 6600
m-sat 10:30 - 21:00