Sara Bar
Accessories Designer, Sara Designs

Hold your hats, ladies! If you haven't heard about this brand, it's time to tune in: New York-based accessories designer Sara Bar of Sara Designs is taking the hat world by storm, one Ecuadorian hat at a time. After spending summers in Paris and an eye for design, Sara unexpectedly established a jewelry line. And as of this year she began collaborating hand-to-hand with aboriginal Ecuadorian women on a unique hat collection, giving 800 year-old traditions a louder voice. Quirky and most definitely fun, her hats hit the nail on the head and is exactly the hero hat we've been longing for.  In an exclusive interview, Sara tells us her inspiration behind her collection, how she fell into designing hats (true story, she never even owned one before!) and secrets to keeping your hat in the best shape...

  • VacationStyle: Can you tell us a little bit about your story?

    Sara Bar: I was always interested in art – painting, clothing, jewelry – but I definitely didn’t push that way. I never expected that I would be a jewelry designer; it wasn’t planned. But, after spending summers in Paris and being exposed to different cultures, I developed an eye for it. And after going to design school and travelling more, I found a lot of inspiration for my first collection. Now I’m based in New York.

  • VS: As an established jewelry and watch brand, what inspired you to create a hat collection? What did you think was different about what you were doing? 

    SB: Again, completely accidental. I always, always, always like to create new stuff and get bored very quickly. I’m constantly in search of something unique, but if you look, it’s not much different from my other products. I take an ordinary product and I add my jewelry techniques. It’s my signature. There are a lot of felt and straw hats, but when you look at the Sara Designs hats, you see my signature in the designs.

  • VS: What's your connection with Ecuador, if any? 

    ​SB: I have actually never been to Ecuador. It’s definitely somewhere I plan on visiting, but when I decided to go with the Panama hats I came across them in Costa Rica where the culture is very similar. But I was drawn in by the story. These native Ecuadorian women hand weave each hat using traditional techniques that have been passed down through the generations. I appreciated the heritage behind the process and the quality behind it. We put a lot of emphasis on out accessories being handmade, so I was able to identify with their process. 

  • VS: Have you always had a knack for hats? 

    SB: I've never even owned a hat! I was just never one to wear them, but now it’s so natural for me to work with them and decorate them. So, I’m just now starting my relationship with them. 

  • VS: What’s the best secret for traveling with a hat?

    SB: Keep it on. If you have to take it off, there are travel hat boxes that will protect the shape. 

  • VS: How did spending summers in Paris influence your vision? 

    SB: It’s all about exposure. I grew up in Israel, which is a small country, so I was able to see how big fashion houses and magazines and just people on the street did things. It was all very inspiring. But I wasn’t just in Israel and Paris. I was able to travel to other places like the south of France and see how the style was different. It all contributed to how my eye for design and sense of style developed.

  • VS: And you also spent a year traveling around the globe. Tell us about it! 

    SB: We have big love for Costa Rica. After travelling all around the world, it is by far my favorite place. There is something about the energy, the atmosphere; it’s a very unique country. Plus, it has absolutely beautiful nature and the best beaches. We even built a house down there where we spend half of our time. 

  • VS: In Costa Rica, what are some hidden gems that you’ve found? 

    SB: In Costa Rica, there is a great Japanese restaurant called Koji. Not to mention, the beaches are absolutely incredible. It’s also fun to explore the beaches. We don’t go there for the nightlife, we go for the secret beaches where we can relax. Not to mention, you can see some of the best sunsets in the world there.

  • VS: What can we expect to see in your future collections?

    SB: I have a lot of things on my mind and would love to branch into other types of accessories. I’m considering everything from sunglasses and handbags to swimwear. But I can’t predict things, I like to just let life and creativity take me. 

  • VS: Favorite hotel?

    SB: My favorite resort is Playa Cielo in Costa Rica. It’s a beautiful location with these amazing bungalows, never overcrowded and has an amazing Mexican restaurant. 

  • VS: How would you describe your style? Does it differ when you’re on vacation?

    SB: Overall, I am very simple. I’m not a big fashionista. It’s funny because I have always been surrounded by fashion. Maybe that’s why I don’t invest so much time in my own style. Cool jeans, a tank top and flip flops are the best. 

  • VS:  What brands do you see well pairing with your accessories?

    SB: My accessories are for the girl who wants to dress them up in a simple, black Valentino dress for a night out or keep it casual with a pair of shorts and a tee shirt at the beach. And that’s another thing that’s so great about the designs: they’re versatile. 

  • VS: Beauty essentials you cannot travel without? 

    SB: I don’t wear a lot of products because I’m either at the beach and in the water, or I just don’t like how it feels. I do like Neutrogena Baby Sunscreen because it’s not as oily as others, NARS concealer and Argan oil and a Moroccan oil mask for my hair

  • VS: If you could wave your magic wand and travel anywhere where would that be?

    SB: I would go to the Maldives. My husband has gone several times, and I think it’s time for me to join him on one of his surfing trips.