Designed for a – growing – community of people who use bicycles in their day-to-day lives, the Porto clothing brand Calão combines comfort, design and versatility in pieces made to last that reflect the environmental concerns of its founders. A recent addition to the market, we got to know the brand better in conversation with designer Onė Maldžiūnaitė.
When did Calão appear and what inspired you to create the brand? We dreamt up the brand in late 2021. And so began the journey of turning our dream into reality and, after many ups and downs procuring materials and some production hitches, we launched our first collection in August 2023. Calão was created to inspire the community to get on their bikes every day in a more comfortable way. We saw that there was a gap between workable clothes for cyclists and urban wear. We wanted to create practical pieces that could be worn on the bike as well as off.
Do you consider yourselves to be a brand directed towards a niche market – urban cyclists – or a wider public? The shirt designs we create are made for cyclists because of all the features: reflective detailing, snap buttons, breathability and elastic fabric. At the same time, why not wear such comfortable pieces when off the bike? It’s a niche, but our goal is to make this niche grow.
What do each of you do in the company? How do your backgrounds complement each other? The project started with three founders, but we are in the process of restructuring. The team of Calão now is me, responsible for design and production and João that leads in art-direction and photography. We are always open for collaborations and partnerships, and we encourage anyone who feel in tune with what we do to get in touch with us.
As a brand designer, do you have a mental checklist when designing for your clients? This is the first time I’ve ever worked on sports-oriented wear. I’ve had some challenges on the way; for example, our idea was to create unisex clothing, but the fact is people’s bodies are very different and it’s not easy to create one design that fits all. There is a checklist that we try to respond to before our designs go into production. Will our customers like these cuts and fabrics for years to come, or will they quickly go out of fashion? Will the pieces be versatile, or will people only use them on a few specific occasions? Will they last for years? The best we can do is create something that lasts, is versatile and truly serves a purpose.
What are the main materials you work with? We use fabric factory dead stock. Therefore we don’t need to ask to produce new fabrics for us, we use what is already made and left out behind big productions. This planet already has a lot of stuff and we choose to use what is already there.
How would you define the identity, the essence of Calão? At Calão we don’t care much about the latest trends in the fashion world. The core of our design is comfort, longevity, durability and simplicity.
A sustainable approach is at the heart of the brand. Do you want to give us some concrete examples of what these concerns might be? We can proudly say that Calão is a local brand. Our textile partner, production factory and design office are all within a radius of less than 30 kilometres. This is quite rare in the fashion world, where often a garment travels across different continents before it is finished (in the constant search for fabrics, dyes, stitching and packaging). We choose to create versatile products: our designs are to be worn both on the bike, at a business meeting or when with friends. The more versatile our wardrobe is, the fewer pieces we need, the less we buy and then consume. We are now working on accessories made from the inner tube material used in bicycles and trucks, as it is dexterous enough to replace leather. And just like that, from “trash” we make treasures. We’re hoping to launch the first designs early this summer.
Still on the subject of the environment, in your opinion, what really needs to change in the clothing industry? Fashion is harmful to the planet, absolutely. We as consumers should make active decisions: choose local brands and only buy pieces made to last. Brands should have be forced to tow the line much more, but these days the laws are quite flexible: we are the ones who make the choice of what and where to buy. So choose carefully. Put your money where your mouth is.
What’s your product range and where can we buy it? We currently have our Bonfim shirt in 9 different colours. You can find them at www.calao.pt, our online store, or in Porto they’re stocked at the Ciclo E-bike shop. You can also contact us directly and visit our workspace to try on the shirts and even ask for them to be altered to fit.
If you could describe the pieces of Calão in three words, what would they be? Casual, carefree and flexible.
How do you see Calão’s future? We are focusing our efforts on accessories made from bike inner tube material, which seems promising and a step in the right direction. Regardless of the new designs that come out of it, Calão will always be sustainable in its philosophy.
When you’re not working or biking, where can we find you and what are you doing? Look us up in Trás os Montes, relaxing at a small farm property, surrounded by olive and orange trees by the Douro River.
Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.