Swimwear Made in Portugal Livens Up Beaches All Over the World

Words: Ilídia Pinto

Latitid and Mingle & Co are two swimwear brands created by Portuguese designers and 100% produced in Portugal. They are digital native brands that have already spread to several European countries and even the United States and Qatar. Their common denominator is the desire to present sophisticated, elegant bikinis and swimsuits that are completely different from the mass-marketed offer of the big international brands.

Each collection by Latitid, a name that refers to latitude, is inspired by a distinct location. The company was started in 2013, almost as a joke, with two people working full-time, but today it’s a very serious business. The company already offers a wider range of beachwear and accessories, such as backpacks and hats. It now employs 10 people, besides shop staff. The brand started on Facebook and then moved to physical spaces: first with the shop in Embaixada, in Lisbon, then at Casa da Cultura, in Comporta — a sales space that only opens in the summer — and finally in Foz do Douro, in Porto.

The online shop, available at latitid.com, is the brand’s big stage and has seen “brutal growth” during the pandemic. Digital grew 45% in 2019 and 193% in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year, e-commerce already represents 52% of Latitid’s turnover, explains Marta Fonseca, one of the three founding partners. Latitid bikinis, swimsuits and beachwear reach all of Europe online and also, increasingly, the United States and other markets outside the EU. The major focus now is to enter marketplaces like Farfetch or Net-a-porter.

The brand has been so successful that it has already caught the attention of some famous people. This summer, Latitid created a range of bikinis and swimsuits in partnership with Cláudia Vieira, and the actress and model is full of praise for the brand, describing it as “super comfortable and cool.”

“Cláudia Vieira has followed Latitid since its inception and is a big fan. It was super easy to work with her in creating this collection and the feedback from customers was exceptional,” acknowledges Marta Fonseca. Latitid also accepted the challenge laid down this year by JAK Shoes, a luxury Portuguese brand of minimalist trainers, to launch a joint model. A new range of articles is promised for 2022 to combat the seasonality of Latitid products. But Marta Fonseca won’t reveal more, for now.

Mingle & Co was also born completely focused on e-commerce and without any desire to sell in physical shops, at least for the time being. It considers the direct contact with customers online to be strategic. Created in 2005, Mingle & Co sees itself as a “daring, innovative and disruptive” project, which has already spread to Spain, France, Italy and Greece.

It started out as a fashion accessories brand, a hobby of Sofia Godinho, one of the creators of the project, but gradually extended its offer to clothing and other items. Swimwear was launched in 2018. It was seen as a natural extension of the brand that, according to Rui Godinho de Oliveira, one of the founders, sets itself apart due to the quality it insists on at every step of preparation of the collections and respective articles.

“We seek to create timeless articles, due to their quality and durability, but with a strong focus on sophistication, refinement and elegance, which we try to impress on everything we do,” explains Sofia Godinho.

At the same time, sustainability is an inherent characteristic of the brand, which seeks, whenever possible, to incorporate raw materials and local production into the articles, as well as organic cotton, recycled polyester or linen certified by European Flax. Also, worthy of mention are the garments created from recycled knitwear, which was “lying to one side” in storage and has been given a new life in Mingle & Co. bikinis and swimsuits. These have been a huge success.

But the company doesn’t use this way of working as a marketing tool. “Sustainability is such a vast subject and there is so much greenwashing on the market that only when we have control of all the aspects do we advertise it as such,” says Rui Godinho de Oliveira.

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