It’s no wonder so many Portuguese brands look to the sea for creative inspiration. Whether to take care of it by creating more sustainable designs using fishing net plastic, or by taking lifestyle inspiration from a country with its eyes fixed on the horizon.
+ 351, Designed in Lisbon
Streetwear in organic cotton
Ana Penha e Costa grew up by the sea, always surfed, and after studying Design in Lisbon and Fashion in Rio de Janeiro, she interned at Billabong Europe in France, and in the creative department of the visionary Brazilian sustainable brand Osklen, which was always her guiding light. She soon realised she liked more graphic looks, playing with textures, materials and dyes, and she launched her brand with the country code of where she was born and added the tagline “designed in Lisbon”. +351 saw the light of day in 2015, with a line of timeless basics in 100% organic cotton. Back then she started out using only knitted fabrics on hand; today all her cottons are organic in different weights, textures and finishes. At first, it was a label for women, today it’s unisex and the super-comfortable basic tee is her top seller. Also found in her stores, is a colourful line of wallets and purses made in Portugal and a mini-line of jewellery in gold-plated silver, inspired by the sea with a shark as its symbol.
A go-to summertime shoe, Paez began as an idea brought over from Buenos Aires by a group of friends, with a few canvas pairs stuffed in a box which they sold to friends. The success was such that they began to launch new looks, big on comfort and colour, and today the brand is Portuguese and on the feet of entire families come summer. Next stop production, and since 2021 all new models are made with a certain amount of recycled materials certified by The Global Recycling Standard, from soles to lining, some using thread recycled from PET plastic bottles. All models are cruelty-free and certified vegan by PETA itself. The new Blossom Line is one such example, and in addition to the new canvas models, there’s now the Mary Jane that comes with a classic small buckle, without forgetting the best-selling mules, open-toed sandals and mocs. A Paez rainbow spread all over the world, from the classics in neutral tones or fashion-forward colours to bright prints right for all those summer parties. There are around 80 styles to choose from, produced in a Spanish factory certified in Vietnam.
A collection of bikinis and bathing suits, mostly produced from scraps of sea-collected nylon fishing nets, or in other words Econyl, the technical term for regenerated nylon from the oceans, but also landfills, leftover fabrics and industrial plastics, which are then recycled back to their original purity. They are all sewn by experienced hands in a workshop in Lisbon and offer different options from top to bottom, for all tastes and body types, the idea being to mix and match in patterns plain or unfussy, while they also come in planet-friendly packaging. It’s one way to turn our waste into durable, quality clothing, while ensuring a commitment to reducing their environmental footprint by 80%, compared to average swimwear. The brand is working towards making its pieces completely recyclable very soon, since, for now, they still contain 22% Elastane, and so for every purchased item, 1% of their sales price has gone to planet-focused causes.
One day, with “feet in the sand and eyes on the ocean”, the idea arose of creating the perfect beach towel. Three cousins joined forces and went travelling with exactly this on their minds and created a towel using traditional Arab methods, in 100% natural cotton, with a home-grown design inspired by the sea and nature, the simple things in life that are free for all. They stress that all their suppliers are certified according to the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, a guarantee of best practices in the textile industry and that the operation is ethical and sustainable throughout its value chain: “Our towels only make sense on clean beaches, with trash-free seas and an environment fit to live in, so as a brand we do our bit to educate and transmit the values we ourselves believe in”.
Wood is the basic raw material of all their brand models. The frames are in bamboo, red sandalwood, ebony and more, and each pair of glasses is made by hand and therefore one-of-a-kind. The brand was the brainchild of three young university students who, in 2016, crossed design with sustainability by throwing out the plastic, not least because it is a brand born by the sea. And since they believe it’s up to us “to give back to the planet more than we take away”, for each pair of glasses sold, they plant five trees, in partnership with reforestation projects from all over the world, such as the Trillion Tree Campaign, Trees For the Future and the WWF. The wood comes from sustainable forests and recycled skateboards. They also use other eco-friendly materials such as natural stone, stainless steel or cork, keeping to the same principle of always using natural and renewable materials.
Blood Brothers have created an eco-conscious surfboard, made by hand in Portugal by an experienced shaper, from recycled and recyclable blocks. And so, instead of polyurethane blocks and polyester resins, both petroleum products, they work exclusively with Polyola® blocks, the first polyurethane blocks that are 85% recycled polyols and wood, and therefore much less toxic. The surfboards are made to last much longer than ordinary boards, and the brand advises buying better and in moderation — even used boards — and repairing whenever necessary. Taking it slower is the desire of this over 20-year-old brand, now with a new vision and on the lookout for the perfect wave and a future for the generations to come. Being a brand of blood brothers, it couldn’t be otherwise.
Vegan footwear made from plastic picked up on the Portuguese coast by a group of six hundred volunteers from local institutions, NGOs and schools, that are dedicated to keeping our coasts clean. It started in Braga, but the factory is located in Guimarães, where the salvaged plastic is treated and mixed with natural rubber to make the sole. Sandals and sneakers are hand-produced using other materials such as organic cotton and Piñatex, made from pineapple leaf fibre. The brand, in existence since 2018, wants to remind us that since we all came from the ocean, not only do we owe it our respect and love, but we should take our rubbish with us and reuse it ecologically and creatively: it has already removed about a tonne of plastic from Portuguese beaches.