In reality, there are usually more than four angles needed to sew Fashion projects in a state of emergency. Just like these, whose recent roots not only promise to bear good crops, but also grow right here in our land.
To begin again is not easy. But to start from scratch also is not - mainly in an industry as competitive and with so many challenges as Fashion. You must understand about raw materials, cuts, silhouettes, stock, production. Communication, selling points, marketing. Customer support, conscious consumption, waste management and expectations management. And you must have a message: so simple as questioning and innovating design, more complex if related to society and sustainability. But, if everything aligns, it is a dream. And even when everything does not align, you feed the perseverance to continue in the competition. And it is still a dream. A dream that guides life. These brands/projects/designers have also let their dreams guide what life has set aside for them. But they will not wait seated. They will fight to give life to concepts that not only are (kind of) recently born, but also seek to be distinct - both in design and in values. And to guarantee that they arrive to the industry not only as just another brand, but also as a start to what can be nothing or everything in the industry where they launch their work.
This designer shares the name with the brand established in 2020, at the same time he was chosen to participate in the competition Sangue Novo of ModaLisboa. The opportunity served as a trigger to guide an old dream in the industry, and that now follows stronger than ever. Not worried about classic tailoring lines, André Jorge chooses to play with volume, structure and unexpected materials in order to create silhouettes that are both bizarre and aesthetic. Never just about Fashion, always with a portion of message, his debut collection shows exactly that: After Your Skin defines itself as a set of reflexions about the human body, inspired by the body positive movement and the work of artists such as Sue Tilley, Mariam Lenk, Rony Hernandes and Sara Shakeel. The representation of the figure is based on referencing the characteristics usually seen as imperfect, in order to, as an end goal, metaphorically redefine the ideal of body beauty and reject the necessity of sacrifice in favor of body alterations. The designer, formerly interning with the already well-established David Catalán, is now walking solo and told us how is it to start “from scratch”. More info at: @andrejorge_brand.
Who? André Jorge is the only face behind the namesake brand, even if he sometimes works “with ateliers and portugueses professionals, from different areas of Fashion.”
What? “The brand is very unique, feminine and presents an aesthetic out of the ordinary. It is characterised by diversity and normalisation of the real body, positioning us against the creation of stereotypes, since Fashion is something increasingly more real, social and inclusive. With that we do not intend to showcase a commercial type of fashion, but rather collections and garments that have social meaning and that touch on really important topics.”
How? “Since very early, when I was around ten years old, I knew I wanted to have a clothing brand and by applying to the ModaLisboa contest, Sangue Novo, where I was a finalist, that opportunity came up and things started to develop.”
Where? “Everything is connected to the city of Porto by necessity, since the textile industry is concentrated in the North of Portugal.”
Why? “Beginning this brand started as a necessity. Being a finalist in Sangue Novo, I was going to present my work in a major platform and, since I always wanted to have a brand, I took that opportunity to show my identity, spread my ideas and create awareness in the audience with my clothing pieces.”
Which is/are the biggest difficulty/difficulties in starting a project of this kind? “There are many difficulties, but the biggest of them all is really advertising my brand. When you have a new brand that is not known to the public, it is hard to find support for publicising it.”
Even with those difficulties, what serves as a motivation to move forward? “My biggest motivation is really following my dreams, believing they are possible and trying to make them come true with a lot of perseverance, never giving up.”
Every beginning starts with a previous ending. What did you do before launching your brand? “Before my brand I was studying, but after ending my studies I felt the need to show what I really liked to do, Fashion!”
What is you vision for the brand? “I would like the brand to grow organically, just by itself, gaining international recognition because of its different and diverse aesthetic.”
An advice or advices for someone that is now beginning? “Knowing their own identity as a designer, never giving up and gaining knowledge about what is the world of Fashion.”
Bloom made him bloom - him and his experiments with textures and volumes. The participation in the new designers contest from Portugal Fashion, in representation of ESAD Matosinhos, with his final clothing collection for Spring 2020 designed in school, was an open door to the industry, but it was not the only door. An internship with David Catalán, taking part in several national design competitions (he won third place at PFN and first place at ModaPortugal), and creating uniforms for McDonald’s are all achievements that prove his promising future. This means that the road ahead may be long but it is being slowly and safely made: by playing with structure and materials that amaze and colours that hipnotize. More info at: @marceloalmiscarado.
Who? “Marcelo Almíscarado is an individual brand, with me as the only permanent member. However, other people contribute for the evolution of the brand: tailors, seamstresses, friends, family, sponsors, suppliers, creators, educators.”
What? “Marcelo Almíscarado is a physical representation of the environments where I am integrated and how that influences my creative and and aesthetic expression. It is where I analyse my references in parallel with textile experimentation. The kitsch and a bit aggressive language of my brand matches with some traditional and even religious codes subverted by pop and industrial references, in an attempt to understand my place amongst these antagonistic environments. Manual techniques of production, based on craftsmanship, are usually paired with artificial silhouettes and materials and a family cultural heritage present in all my projects serves as a means of interpreting my identity. Therefore, sometimes, the garments presented in the collection are completely different regarding the practicalities associated with clothing.”
How? “The brand came up as soon as I finished my Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design and then presented my final school collection in the Portugal Fashion’s contest Bloom. It is, however, in a constant circle of evolution and development.”
Where? “Laúndos, Póvoa do Varzim, Porto, Portugal”
Why? “Creating my brand was not a decision made in a specific moment. It is something that I build as I move forward. As soon as I started studying Fashion Design my goal became being able to materialize my ideas in an attempt to communicate what I wanted without having to justify myself.”
Which is/are the biggest difficulty/difficulties in starting a project of this kind? “The difficulties are present in every step of the development process. In the permanent economical challenges. In the pressure to develop something innovative, useful, practical, sustainable and inclusive. In the lack of openness from the textile industry and the market. In the feeling of competition inherent to the Fashion industry. In the confrontation with the unnecessary addition of a product to the market. In the small flaws that come up during the production process and to which a rapid adaptation is required to be able to solve them. In the constant questioning and devaluation of the developed projects. In the tension between creative incentive and commercial needs. In the will to explore closely what I identify with the most and, at the same time, exposing myself together with my work.”
Even with those difficulties, what serves as a motivation to move forward? “What motivates me is to see the diversity and the evolution of Fashion and all those ideas that contribute to this segment. In some way, I am a part of this evolution, contributing specifically for Portuguese Fashion.”
Every beginning starts with a previous ending. What did you do before launching your brand? “Before Fashion, I was already trying to immerse myself into the artistic environment. What I did before launching my brand was nurturing the will to be a part of the industry and preparing myself to materialize that goal by gaining the most knowledge I had access to about Fashion and design.”
What is your vision for the brand? “I use Fashion and my brand as a means of expression without extremely ambitious expectations. Marcelo Almíscarado metamorphoses itself as the circumstances change.”
An advice or advices for someone that is now beginning? “To be resilient. To preserve the curiosity, the will and the organisation. To always do the best you can and to constantly seek evolution.”
Returning to Portugal after a season abroad made Rita Botelho bring in her baggage a larger will to create a personal project. Piino is the outcome of that, a project created with her own hands. Literally: the jewelry she creates in clay and silver with gold plate translates happy memories through its minimalistic lines, which can be easily noticed in the final product. Delicate pieces in shades that invoke smiles make this brand not only desirable but also special, notably after knowing that this project has less than two years. A quick peek at the official site, atelier-piino.com, is enough to discover that these organic clay shapes in pastel colours were exactly the type of accessories that our jewelry box was missing. More info at: @atelier_piino.
Who? “I am Rita Botelho, the creator, designer and craftswoman of the brand Piino. The name comes from the word ‘pino’ (in English, headstand) which brings back the happiest memories of my childhood. The long Summers in Algarve, playing in the sand and the repeated attempts to achieve an headstand. It is also a metaphor for a certain way of looking at life that I identify with and that I want to encourage: making everything I possibly can to feel free, to face challenges without ‘fear of falling’, to find a balance in life and to have confidence in myself.”
What? “It is a modern, youthful, light, elegant, minimalistic and timeless jewelry brand. The Piino universe, with its different designs, colours and names, resolves around my memories on the beach, in nature and of the aesthetic printings recorded during my life and that are also part of my identity. An unique and unrepeatable identity, just like every piece I create by hand and that each person wears.”
How? “Piino started with a strong desire and lots of learning. I had never worked with polymers before, which is the main material in my collection. I spent months testing and learning from my mistakes, always with aiming to reach perfection. At the same time, I was defining the brand’s identity with the help of friends that work in different sectors, from graphic design to photography and even management. When I felt confident enough, I went forward with the project without ever looking back.”
Why? “After a few years living abroad, I decided to return to Portugal in the beginning of 2019. Coming back to my country gave me a lot of positive energy and an enormous motivation to create my own project. A personal brand, that could combine what I had learned in several areas of design and reflect my own interests in other areas. I wanted to be independent regarding the creative and productive process, learning as the project was growing. I wanted to work with jewelry but not the conventional one. Piino was created in November of 2019.”
Which is/are the biggest difficulty/difficulties in starting a project of this kind? “I think that I did not start this project earlier for only one reason: lack of confidence! During my studies in design, I created a strong awareness towards what constitutes good design and a good brand. I was always pretty demanding with myself and I did not care about creating a project that was merely commercial. I wanted to create something different, something that reflected my identity. The confidence to move forward came with time and with all the personal experiences I had had previously.”
Even with those difficulties, what serves as a motivation to move forward? “I created a name for my brand that makes me smile everyday, not only because it brings me back my best childhood memories, but also because it frequently reminds me that nothing is perfect and that, in order to get something out of life, you got to take risks. Yes we may fall, and I have already made some mistakes in this project, but those were the same mistakes that thought me how to do better. What also motivates me is the people that surround me. They are the ones that give me good energy when, sometimes, I have no energy left. I truly believe in this “energy” thing and I try to follow the most positive ones I can find in my life. This Piino project has also an educative component in the Patreon platform ‘Piino’ where everyday grows an international community of craftsmen and women. This component of the brand gives me a lot of strength to move forward.”
Every beginning starts with a previous ending. What did you do before launching your brand? “I worked as a product and jewelry designer for different brands.”
What is you vision for the brand? “I would like for the brand to grow sustainably. I do not want to lose my aesthetic line and those initial values of the brand but I want to takes risks regarding the design and other processes. Geographically, Piino’s pieces already circulate across several continents, but I would like to see Piino in strategic selling points as a way of reaching more people that identify with the brand.”
An advice or advices for someone that is now beginning? “It is important to dedicate ourselves to the project with body and soul, but keeping in mind that nothing will ever be perfect. Before creating a brand, it is important to do some market research (name, identity, design, etc.). not as ‘inspiration’ but as a way of realising if what we are creating is relevant enough, if it makes a difference in such a saturated market. Nothing is 100% original, but the truth is that the more we deeply work on a project that we are passionated about, the biggest are our odds of making something distinct. We cannot fear asking for help, it is important to surround ourselves with the people that have the best energy to motivate us moving forward when we are lacking on strength.”
A football player, a photographer and a Fashion designer walk into a bar and… maybe this is not the beginning of this story, but at least we got the protagonists right. Rafael Leão (yes, the AC Milan player) sees in Bairro da Jamaica, Seixal, everything that those looking from the outside unfortunately are not used to see: the mutual help amongst the neighbourhood, the protection and loyalty between one another, the sense of true community that he is still thankful for and that he has witnessed throughout his education. The brand is a kind of comeback and an homage to this brotherhood that has seen him and all the “sons of Bairro da Jamaica” grow. Son is Son is born from the reunion between Rafael and the photographer Gonçalo Silva that then added the designer Francisco Soares to the equation. The result? Streetwear without complications, timeless, just like it is desired, with messages that should encourage the pursuit of a dream. From the neighbourhood to the world, with no limits. More info at: @sonissonofficial.
Who? “Son is Son is composed by Rafael Leão (brand creator), Gonçalo Silva (creative director) and Francisco Soares (designer). The brand emerged from the middle of the community that is Bairro da Jamaica with the goal of representing the “sons of the neighbourhood” through their artistic careers. Hence the name Son is Son.”
What? “It is a brand with a message, but at the same time with style. It is definitely inspired on comfortable streetwear to wear on a daily basis while also trying to look cool.”
How? “The project began almost as a movement inside the neighbourhood. It started to be distributed almost as merchandise promoting the name of the brand and then followed the worries about creating new clothing pieces and new fits.”
Where? “The brand was born in Bairro da Jamaica, Seixal.”
Why? “Maybe because of the power in spreading a message connected to a group of people that were already wearing the brand’s t-shirts.”
Which is/are the biggest difficulty/difficulties in starting a project of this kind? “The production part of the garments for the new collection. It is always a slower process that requires a lot of details, a lot of the times even external to our will and sometimes completely outside of our control, that can dictate delays or even the loss of already made investments.”
Even with those difficulties, what serves as a motivation to move forward? “The creation of a brand with a message emerged from the middle of a community a lot of the times seen with a negative connotation and that can influence a lot of young people - from the neighbourhood and not only.”
Every beginning starts with a previous ending. What did you do before launching your brand? “Everyone involved in this project is continuing their activities: Rafael is still playing football in AC Milan, Gonçalo kept his career as photographer and Francisco keeps running his brand, Sublime Lx.”
What is you vision for the brand? “We want to grow as a streetwear brand, similar to the best that is done abroad, while trying not to lose the connection with our neighbourhood by continuing to utilize elements of the community in collections or clothing pieces.”
An advice or advices for someone that is now beginning? “That they work on their dreams and find inspiration in something that is important for them.”
Alexandra Carneiro is the founder of this brand known for its minimalist silhouettes, great cuts and timeless design. But she always speaks in plural and in the feminine when referring to the creative strength behind every garment and every collection: it is a brand made by women and for women, that defines itself as a project that questions Fashion but that also wants to find the answers; that closely looks at the primary values in manufacturing, but that does not close its eyes to progress, caring about every silhouette but also those who will wear it. This designer believes in the DNA she has build based on the ancient savoir-faire of Portuguese textiles. In reality, Carneiro brings in her baggage two decades working in the industry, which she is not scared of putting in practice in this project born in 2016 (but that has grown in categories besides shirts two years after its start), more concise, that focus on the essentials, that has attention to detail just like it has to recyclable and premium materials - you got to see it to believe it in its impeccable website, alineclothing.com. More info at: @alineclothing_official.
Who? “A LINE is composed by a team of women that every day are dedicated to create clothing pieces for others. The name is related to a silhouette created by Christian Dior, for the symbolism that it had at a time associated with modernity, youth and freedom, with which the team identifies and because it is really a shape that fits any body type, something we also look for in our garments.”
What? “Made by women for women. A brand that designs and produces with only one goal - to create garments that last a lifetime in our wardrobe, that have purpose and that can make any woman, no matter what her body looks like, feel elegant, comfortable and unique. Aware to what happens around her, with sustainability very present and with the mission of slowing down the fast pace of the industry, respecting time and every detail that our clothes ask for.”
How? “The difficulty in finding the perfect white shirt, comfortable, timeless with the right fit and quality was always a topic of conversation when I talked with other women. That gap in the market and the desire to give life to a shirt that could gather all of that, together with 20-plus years of experience in the textile universe, made me believe that it would be possible. Little by little, A LINE ended up being born only with shirts and with a very small team where it still is today our atelier and where we develop completely our garments - from design to production.”
Where? “Paços de Ferreira.”
Why? “To realize that there was really a lot left to explore in the world of shirts, that the perfect white shirt was not yet something that was at easy reach for most women and to have the right team by my side, with a more than sufficient know-how to do well in this challenge.”
Which is/are the biggest difficulty/difficulties in starting a project of this kind? “The uncertainty. Not knowing where each decision could take us and how would it weight on the brand’s path that we are idealising.”
Even with those difficulties, what serves as a motivation to move forward? “To know that our clothing pieces make many women feel comfortable, confident and that each one of those garments have a purpose on their wardrobe.”
Every beginning starts with a previous ending. What did you do before launching your brand? “A LINE ended up being an extension of a passion and a career of over 20 years in the textile industry and in the development of a private-label that still is today, together with A LINE, my day to day life.”
What is you vision for the brand? “Continuing not only dressing women but inspiring them. Our evolution has been something that I am really proud of and which we will carry on doing: to grow with other collections, who knows opening up our first stores and mostly explore everything we can regarding the sustainable side that Fashion can and should have, a side which we have not been forgetting at A LINE from the first moment.”
An advice or advices for someone that is now beginning? “Just be yourself. To always believe in what motivates you to keep going. To follow with confidence, certain that, no matter how hard it may be, it will always be worth it.”
Originally translated from the New Beginnings issue, published September 2021.
Full credits and stories on the print issue.