Sustainable Fashion Moves into Travel: The New Factourism of Portugal

Not too long ago, it seemed insane to make visits to cheesemakers and farms on our trips, or even tour the winery that makes our favorite bottles. Now, of course, all that has changed. Feeling is useful, though important, to see where our food is coming from.

What if we used that method on other things we use, like clothing?

Portugal’s slow fashion brand ISTO. decided it was a question worth asking. This week, they are hosting their first “factorism” event — hosting visits and guided tours to some of their factories in northern Portugal’s manufacturing hub. The idea for the first is to follow the journey of a white cotton T-shirt from yarn to fashion staple, starting with weaving the fabric and ending with sewing the label.

Some of their fans agreed, because when they announced it on their social media, they got hundreds of inquiries, others were from far away Singapore. (The first trip is limited to 20 people and trees, but there will be more.)

ISTO. is a menswear label founded five years ago by three young Portuguese entrepreneurs who have been turned off by fast fashion and want to change the relationship of their customers to their wardrobes. “I always have something about clothing,” said partner Pedro Palha, who works in Mexico for one of the unsustainable startups that burns all of its funding before it earns before he returns to Portugal and starts the brand. .

He then saw Everlane, a U.S. fashion brand radical in its approach to ethical production and “radical transparency,” as disclosing price breakdowns before anyone else did. “No one has heard for Everlane in Portugal,” he recalled. And so he saw an opportunity. Once he met another Portuguese Everlane fan, he had his first business partner and ISTO. has begun.

The name, conveniently, is the Portuguese word for “it.” but also an acronym for Independent thinking, Superb quality, Transparent and Organic materials. (The latter of these can be extended to include natural fibers and recycled materials.) It is also important for them to grow organically, without outside investors, and expand slowly and strategically only if their earnings are allowed.

Although Palha said he was “amazed at Everlane’s transparency”, it was also included in ISTO’s independent thinking. the elimination of seasonal collections — a decline in the culture of consumption that stems from fast-paced trends — and the gradual introduction of new pieces into the collection. Everything is a casual basic that has been meant to be part of a man’s wardrobe for years, not replaced whenever there is a new trend. (Their independent thinking also extends to spelling, which is why I use a lot of midsentence punctuation.)

They also introduced an on-demand approach, where they can try new color options and reduce waste. Items such as the famous work jacket are not made with colored fabric but dyed with clothing at the end, only after orders have been placed.

The “very good” kind of speaks for itself. Palha and his partners carefully inspect their factories and visit them often. He said many of their suppliers are family-owned businesses where workers are treated with respect and where the younger generation is starting to have a bigger stake in the business. The children of this owner are often aligned with the sustainable and ethical values ​​of ISTO.

Transparency is arguably the main pillar, and one that the brand is best known for. Each price tag includes a complete price breakdown of the value of the item, from buttons and zippers to manufacture and logistics. In addition, the company releases a detailed report each year that breaks down its operating costs, including rent at its three stores in Lisbon, salaries, marketing and taxes. With all that in mind, the prices seem more than fair — especially for “high -quality basics that stand the test of time.”

Factourism is the next logical step, says Palha, who mentioned in passing that he dreams of a glass house— “clearly using shadows” for privacy — as an extension of the brand in the future. “We want to show that everything we say is true,” he said, “that it really did [sustainably] in Portugal. ”

To find out about next day factourism, sign up at isto.pt/pages/factourism-day.