These are the entrepreneurs who are changing the national footwear

16 January, 2017

If there have been times when the footwear industry in Portugal has been through shifting sands, in recent years the sector has been treading on a much firmer ground. Gone are the image of the cobbler by necessity or the small entrepreneur little bet on the vanguard and modernization. Today, Portuguese shoes are prestigious and the new faces of the industry, highly qualified, know, with intelligence and vision, combine tradition and technique, quality and creativity. Let’s get to know some of the new brands that have come to breathe new life into the market.
Citadin Shoes

Citadin Shoes was born at the end of 2013, with the premise of creating shoes for urban men, chic and cosmopolitan. It is a family business, whose impulse came through Phillippe and Thomas Teixeira da Mota – the brand would eventually be created by four people, the other two being Margarida Teixeira da Mota and Vasco Azevedo.

It is Vasco who tells us how it all began. “Phillippe and Thomas have been working outside Portugal for some time, and have always had difficulty buying shoes abroad: either the price was too high or the quality was poor. On the other hand, they had no reference stores in Portugal. ”

As we know that the need sharpens the ingenuity, they have decided to create their own brand. A brand in which to take advantage of oknow-how and quality of Portuguese footwear to offer good shoes at a reasonable price. The truth is that footwear was not a debut in the family. “For many years our family had a shoe factory in northern Portugal. But that was just a funny coincidence that we only discovered after launching the company, “recalls Vasco, noting that lack of in-depth knowledge of the industry was what” made the challenge even more appealing. ”

Citadin Shoes produces shoes at factories in the north of the country with several decades experience and sells directly through the internet. In this way they reduce distribution / retail costs, which makes it possible to sell shoes at a reasonable price. But the customer is also seduced by the policy of deliveries, exchanges and returns, to try to circumvent the “barrier” of the online market, explains Vasco. “We are looking at the speed of response and feedback so far has been very positive.”

To be sold mostly to Portugal, Citadin has already won customers in eight more European countries. “The idea has always been to achieve sustained growth without too much marketing investment in order to build an appealing brand without major financial adventures. We have remained faithful to the original idea and grown every year, “says Vasco. The national market represents between 80 to 85% of sales, but the plan is also to make a greater investment in outreach.

Daniela Catraia

Can someone who has no family connection to the footwear industry know how to make shoes? You can. Daniela Catraia is a native of the Algarve, graduated in Architecture at the University of Évora and in 2015 created a footwear brand in her own name. Fashion has always fascinated her, he explains. It was this passion that led her, at the time she was working on her master’s thesis, to enroll in a shoe design course at the Lisbon School of Design. During the course he created a collection and earned “the necessary motivation to risk”. He went to São João da Madeira, where he sought help and technical knowledge to carry out his project, and some time later the brand had feet to walk.

The shoes designed by Daniela are entirely produced in Portugal and reflect their taste for fashion, design and architecture. He likes to explore new combinations of materials, always in an urban, relaxed and contemporary way. “The brand is positioned in a medium-high segment of women willing to pay the quality of made in Portugal. They value the quality of the materials, the design and appreciate the fact that they have a piece of author, “he explains. The main clients are urban women who value the detail and details that make the difference in a shoe. “They like fashion, but they want to be comfortable,” he sums up.

Daniela Catraia’s creations are sold online, but also in partner stores, all over the country. “The ambition is to continue to grow,” says Daniela. “I am aware that there is much more to go around. We want to continue to invest in brand expansion and export is the main route. ”

Friendly Fire

Born and raised in Guimarães, Friendly Fire came to the world in 2015 at the hands of Rute Marques and Alexandra Castro, and presents itself as “a reflection of the joyful and irreverent personality of its creators.”

Friendly Fire is the brand of a footwear company in Guimarães, JAM Fernandes e Filhos Lda., Which has more than 25 years of experience in the footwear sector, explains Rute and Alexandra, whose professional activities – nutritionist and teacher – walked Very far from this industry. Bringing together the company’s know-how and the joviality of this feminine pair, with “a desire to create the bold and different models that I dreamed of using”, a brand was born that emphasizes the improbable conjugations of colors, materials and textures, thinking of urban and Sophisticated. “It was a real challenge to technically enable the inspirations of the creative team, but we agreed that the result was bold and difficult to achieve, but with the quality and safety that the company’s experience enabled.”

With its focus on the luxury footwear market made in Portugal, Friendly Fire has the focus on the international market, certain that “the quality of the materials and detail of the applications ‘pushes’ the models for the medium / high market” .

Today, Friendly Fire is present in more than 30 points of sale in Portugal, and is also represented in countries such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece. “We had planned in the first two years to foster our presence in Portugal, and only then to move safely to the international market. But with only a collection in the stores we have already covered practically the entire national territory, so we feel already capable of channeling efforts to amplify our presence internationally. ”

Green Boots

From Leiria comes a history of footwear that is based on tradition and the know-how of other times, with leather assuming a major role. Pedro Rente Lourenço, son of the founder of Green Boots (Luís Lourenço), tells us how it all began in 2013. “We found a niche in a series of factories in Benedita, with a family origin and having a century-old tradition of footwear production In Goodyear Welt, one of the methods of comfort and recognized quality in the production of footwear “.


These factories, having passed from generation to generation, allowed to accumulate an unique knowledge that the Green Boots put to its service, recovering the techniques artisan of shoe production. Although delayed – the boots are made using old machines, by the hands of craftsmen, and each pair takes about four hours to do – this “guarantees the superior quality that we always seek to achieve”, clarifies Pedro Lourenço, stressing how the passion of the masters Shoemaker gives a unique character to the pieces: “The ability to rewrite the history of their parents and grandparents in the same scope, but with the constant updating that is required, was what always fascinated us, and for that reason we wanted to recover some models and materials that Were ‘outdated’ (such as the artistically tanned natural veal skin), but no doubt marked generations and offer above-average quality. ”

Currently Green Boots works with around 40 national retailers, as well as the online store and some retailers in Germany, Austria and Italy, positioning their products in the mid-high range. Focusing on the European market already, the plan for the future is to focus more on exports to northern Europe and also to expand to the rest of the world.

The customers of Green Boots are quite varied, and the communication is based mainly on the younger proposals, on the tradition and the ecological side (footwear based on tanned skins without recourse to chrome and recycled materials such as corticite and tire soles recycled).


Inês Caleiro studied communication design and found in her shoes a form of expression that she loves and allows her to create unique pieces. In the curriculum it counts on the passage by the London College of Fashion and an internship in the famous brand Jimmy Choo.

It was in 2010 that Guava took the first steps, a process that would bring Inês back to Portugal. “I started to shape a line of footwear almost without realizing it. Geometric language was present in all the models I drew, much owing to the influence that architecture has on my work. From then until deciding that he wanted to create a brand was a quick decision “, recalls. A year later Guava became real, translating Inês’s will to “give shape to a distinct, cosmopolitan and innovative product made in Portugal”.

The Guava shoes, described by the designer, are entirely hand-made, adding the originality of a jump created by contemporary methods. The brand is positioned in a premium and cosmopolitan market and almost 100% of the production is for export. “The market in Portugal has surprised us positively through online shopping, which has shown a growing line of growth,” he notes.

With prices around 360 euros for each pair of shoes, Guava has its well defined client-type: “We communicate to an independent, urban and cosmopolitan woman who likes a classic shoe but with a touch of originality. A woman who looks for comfort and elegance, but does not abandon an exclusive product. ”

For the next year the bet will continue to be in the international market, being also in the plans of Inês to open an interactive space / showroom in Portugal.


Three friends come together and decide to create a brand of footwear. Does it seem too simple? Maybe so, but that’s what Jaime Serôdio, José Silva and Mónica Dias did, imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to innovate and value the tradition. None of the three founders had family ties to footwear – Monica and Jaime come from marketing, and Jose from information technology – but everyone felt interested in the area.

They quickly arrived at the Inouh concept – a brand strongly inspired by Portuguese ethnography, roots and cultural heritage, and benefiting from the experience of craftsmen who make footwear. “Our collections live on details and notes whose inspiration always comes from the ethnography of a region of Portugal,” explains Monica. “The result is a brand with 100% Portuguese DNA, which will find inspiration in different regions of the country.” The first collection that Inouh presented, for example, was inspired by the Minho, the lush colors, the scarves and lace stockings that characterize the traditional costumes.

Operating in the market only two months ago, and in terms of sales, the team predicts that Inouh will close the year with a 60% proportion for the Portuguese market and 40% on the international market. “In the genesis of Inouh is the internationalization, so in the short term we will reverse this proportion and achieve greater growth in the international area,” says Monica.

“In 2017 we have several challenges to overcome that we believe will be responsible for growing our brand. We are working to put our collections on sale at various distribution points in Europe, “says Monica, stating that the UK and Germany are priority markets.


The word “toil” means “to work, to strive with commitment”. Labuta, as a brand, intends to pay homage to the old professions that, because of the demand of their profession, needed to wear high quality and durable footwear – in the case of miners or stevedores.

Labuta has been in the market since 2015, and bets on collections based on Portuguese traditions and culture. The philosophy of the brand? “To create differentiated products that serve as a bridge between the necessary robustness in the past and the design and comfort required in the present, always extolling the manufacture and knowledge of Portuguese craftsmen.”

Pedro Olaio is the most visible face of Labuta. Without a family directly associated with the footwear industry, however, he can draw a parallel between the profession of his maternal grandfather, who was a tailor, and his own interest in fashion. “I still remember the Oxford-style shoes that he wore with his well-worn suits.” Attention to detail is thus embedded in Labuta’s genes. Every pair of footwear leaving the factory takes almost four hours to do. This is because each shoe or boot is produced through the Goodyear Welt manufacturing process, which gives the shoe a superior strength, quality and durability.

Currently the brand is positioned in the medium to high segment. “However, in the short term, we will be able to be more and more comprehensive through the development and expansion policy that the brand is adopting,” clarifies Pedro Olaio. “Our customer-type is, as a rule, an increasingly informed customer, with diversified age groups, who want a differentiated product and who likes quality and comfort without great ostentation.”

When it comes to sales, strategy goes through online sales, but not just. Labuta intends to triple the number of stores in which it is represented by the end of this year, so that both channels – online and retail – complement each other. “At the international level, and although we are already in Canada and Switzerland, we will bet on a further expansion of the brand, so that we are represented in a greater number of countries.”


Shoes and tiles? This is the proposal of Lazuli, a brand that was inspired by this element of Portuguese culture. Lazuli was born in 2013, the result of the creativity of a young couple – Ricardo Conceição, shoe designer, and Jeanette Vieira, manager of companies – and arises from a long-term project, explains Marta Oliveira, brand marketing manager. The two professionals joined forces and created the Shoelutions company, which was then dedicated to the development of collections for other brands. ” But there was always the will to create your own brand. “The project became a reality when the inspiration came from the history and culture of Portuguese tiles, which managed to convey the necessary Portugueseness to give identity to a new brand of footwear.”

The pieces are strongly inspired by the colors, patterns and delicacy of the Portuguese tile. Each model is designed to captivate, above all, “women with a sense of humor and free spirit, in an age group of 25 to 45”. Positioned in an average target, the Lazuli features three distinct lines, all female: classic, elegant with a touch of irreverence, and a more casual line.

From the beginning the destination of Lazuli has been export. “Only later did we start selling in Portugal, and now we can say that we have a similar percentage in both markets,” says the marketing manager. Being a very young brand, the plan for the future is to grow: “At the moment for the investment made, we still consider low sales, although in Portugal we already have 20 sales outlets, and internationally we have some markets like Germany, Holland, and Saudi Arabia. Our goal is to increase sales, especially at international level, to retain the markets we have already achieved and to conquer new markets in Europe and in other continents. ”

The strategy also involves investing in a new online sales platform, and the Lazuli store in downtown Porto – the store opened about a half a year ago and is being tested as a business model for future advancement to brand franchising .


There is little footwear as comfortable as the espadrilles, and this was precisely the bet of Teresa and Zé Maria, cousins ​​and founders of Mussas. Having a strong family connection to Mozambique, one of the trips to the African country was the motto to transform the capulana – a remarkable fabric in Mozambican daily life – into something more. Mussas’ alpergatas are produced in Portugal, they combine comfort with design and, when made with capulana of multiple patterns and colors, says Teresa Santos, “serve as a bridge between these two peoples that have long been linked.”

Although relatively young, the success of the brand has been notorious, according to the founder. “So far sales are being sold


If the top of the shoe is important, the sole is not less. And it is precisely the sole of the shoes that is the protagonist of this story. Sola is a brand of shoes with personalized soles, hand painted, created in 2012 by Maria Briz and Rita Barreto, respectively mother and daughter. The leather shoes are produced in Santa Maria da Feira, and are later painted by Rita in a variety of motifs, from the most romantic to the most fun and daring.

Maria Briz – who worked in communication and wanted to start a business of her own – with whom she identified, tells how it all began. “My mother is very creative, she has always worked in areas related to the arts. One day, in a rush to go to a wedding, he blew some sandals. As an artist he is, he wasted no time and, with an old necklace, solved the problem. The sandals looked beautiful, and I thought, and shoes? ”

It was not long before the idea took on more real contours. “Being our country known for its high quality footwear, we began to develop the idea, to combine this artistic vein with a piece as feminine as a pair of high heels.” And so Sola Art Shoes appeared, with mother and daughter as partners. Rita is responsible for designing and customizing the soles and Maria handles business management.

Being unique pieces, given that each shoe is hand-painted, Sola Art Shoes intends to captivate, above all, a modern public and that values ​​elegance and glamor – women from 25 to 45 years old, urban, “who like to accent and show Their individuality and personality. ”

The bulk of sales goes through the online store, but Sola Art Shoes is also betting on the presence in some physical stores. This, in addition to export to countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Monaco, Brazil, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, which has been a major factor of brand growth. And the future? It will happen by the launch of a model for the masculine sex, Maria advances.

Mocha Backpack

The expression “muggle-mocha” comes from the Castilian ‘a troche y moche’, which means ‘to make a fuzzy, confused, dispatching’ form. This was the popular expression chosen to baptize the brand created in Coimbra by two friends – Eduardo Mota, architect, and Paulo Vieira de Melo, economist – in 2011. However, articles produced by Muggle Mocha have nothing to do with it. Rather, they are pieces that have been elaborated in traditional workshops and are intended to capture some of the singularity and identity of the essence of Portuguese everyday life. We are not only talking about footwear, but also cloth bags, backpacks, berets and garments.

It was, in fact, with the cloth bags that everything started. And with a trip to Mozambique where a bag made in capulana was acquired. “Since there was already a huge willingness on our part to have a business of our own, this piece was the motto to start with the production and sale of Muggles, inspired by the classic cloth bags used by children in the first half of the twentieth century to transport The books for the school, “explains Joana, who is part of the company’s team.

As far as footwear is concerned, the Mocha Backpack offer is made up of boots, tennis shoes and sabrines, all of them made by small scale workshops / factories, which still preserve traditional production processes. It is for this reason that the Mocha Backpack intends to position itself, in the first phase, as a well-known national brand. Second stage, internationalization. “We know that the challenges are great, but we want to define marketing and communication strategies, implement our own organization methodologies that contribute to ensuring an international activity.”

With a store located in the historic center of Coimbra, the brand guarantees that there are already a considerable number of Portuguese people to know and identify with the Mocha Mug concept. “We have on average an annual turnover of 50 thousand euros in the global sale of all our products in Portugal. Sales abroad are very occasional and individualized, “says Joana. “We clearly want to expand in Portugal and also lay solid foundations for exporting, expanding the channels of distribution / placement of our products. We want you to associate us with a Portuguese reference brand. ”

Source: Info Franchising
Author: Laura Alves

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