Welcome to another inspiring episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast, where we have the pleasure of interviewing Jose Miguel de Abreu, Co-Founder of LA PAZ, a remarkable sustainable heritage menswear brand. LA PAZ draws inspiration from the Atlantic, its people, and their rich traditions, and aims to establish direct partnerships with the finest local Portuguese manufacturers. By blending their expertise with a singular design philosophy, LA PAZ creates timeless and durable goods that stand the test of time.
The name "PAZ" carries a profound meaning, as it represents "PEACE" in Portuguese. This concept lies at the core of LA PAZ's ethos, influencing their approach to their crew, partners, customers, and the planet. While sustainability has become a global priority, LA PAZ believes it should extend beyond production and consumer habits, becoming an intrinsic part of our way of life. Consequently, the brand has dedicated significant effort to researching new organic and recycled materials, striving to incorporate them into their creations.
Join us as Peter Brooker engages in an enlightening conversation with Jose Miguel de Abreu, exploring his background and the fascinating founding story behind this esteemed men's fashion brand. Dive into the ethos that drives LA PAZ, their meticulous selection of clothing fabrics, the journey of funding a sustainable brand, the world of fashion shows, the wellsprings of inspiration, the intricacies of store design, the significance of Portuguese manufacturing, and the brand's global stockists.
Don't miss this captivating episode, where we unravel the story of LA PAZ, a brand that embraces sustainability as a way of life while delivering exquisite heritage menswear that resonates with the soul of the Atlantic and the spirit of its people.
Hello, welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker and today on the show I am talking to the co founder at Lopes clothing. Jose brayer. Lopez clothing was created in 2011, and is a heritage label of menswear inspired by the classic staples in a gentleman's wardrobe. The pas is for the man who embraces life wherever he is fishing, hunting, walking through an exotic land or simply taking a stroll through his city. And here to tell us more about the pads clothing as a co founder, Jose Abria, we started this project in it's me and Andrew and my business partner, we started this project in 2011. Our main idea at that time was to to distribute some brands, in fact, here in Portugal, but the economy was very low. And we had some contacts in some factories nearby. And we were both passionate about clothing. So we started putting a collection together to see I mean, to see how it would look, you know, and how would you go about starting to put a collection together are you designers, we don't have a design background. So, so been helped by a friend with a designer and but mainly with with with production. And in the factories, you know, so we started the designing some, some pieces we like so and we went to the factories, and we started developing some prototypes over there. And so the main collection, the first collection was supposed to be a summer collection didn't happen. Because it was like slow and we're still in the testing the prototypes and stuff. And but then we managed to put a small collection of around 30 pieces together. And so we were the first show we did was in New York, man woman show in we started with a winter collection here, Jose, I'm just going to throw up a couple of pictures of the brand just that I pulled from the website. Perhaps you can just for those that can't see on the YouTube that'll be listening to the podcast, you can maybe just describe the designs to us or the philosophy of the brand. What can people expect from the brand when they log on to the site to see the clothes? In fact, the in terms of design LastPass is, is pretty standard and pretty classic, I would say. But our main work is to explore and then do a lot of of note we got to the is a lot about fabrics and textures. You know, that's our main, our main How would I describe this? Most most of the work we do is probably trying to find new new mixes new textures, new fabrics. And so I think it reflects a lot in the in our collection. Of course, we have a basic part of it like T shirts and sweatshirts. But I think it's very important to touch the materials in fact because that's where we invest most of our time and research. And when you started out putting the collection together what in the back of your mind what did you want the brand to look like? Were you pulling inspiration from your childhood from your friends from films I mean, there's so so many amazing brands in in the world in the market that we wanted to have like what we really wanted to do a Portuguese brand you know and our our main inspiration is the Atlantic and SEMA but that's for a specific reason is because me and Andrea we serve since since we are kids, and they will live outdoor a lot and there's this there's this people where's this specific clothing and all like the the flannel shirts the work were very linked of course to the to the fish but the fishing but also to the sailing and all these atmosphere you live on you You know, if you're if you live by the by the ocean as we do. So we wanted to translate that a little bit to the market, you know, I mean, when people start off a brand, typically they start with quite a limited run, or maybe a very fine selection two or three different garments just to test the marketplace, you've launched about 30 garments. So was it always the idea to be quite ambitious with this from the start? Not really. But we started develop, we started from the basis of some pieces we like. We were working mainly around vintage pieces, and some from our own family wardrobes from our grandparents and stuff. And so we wanted to give like a contemporary touch to them. So we started by searching for the fabrics. But then we found out that we had a very ambitious collection of fabrics. So we when we started turning them into specific pieces, we managed to have like a slightly slightly bigger collection that was supposed to at the beginning. And in fact, it went well, because he was very far first collection was very versatile. And we got some, some good customers with and we we didn't have much money. Of course, it was no mostly handwrite yet some money on the side, get out of hand. And so we started from from next to zero when we were travelling to New York, Paris, London, which was one of the shows we did on the first season. But but it it went really well. We got some nice customers from the beginning. And it helped us to keep going until now, I say. So it sounds like a very nostalgic opening to the brand. You're taking clothes that your grandfather might have worn taking those to the factory and saying I really liked the fabric and the texture of this. Let's work with this into a line of something is that were those the conversations you were having with the factories? Yeah, pretty much but we were working two different fronts. One was the factory. The fabric factories. Yeah. And so we went to the mountains of sacred Estrella, which is the the I guess, point of Portugal. And that's where they filmed on a Majesty's Secret Service with George Lazenby and James Bond. I'm not sure to be honest with you. Oh, it is. Yeah. So that's where the casino sorry, carry on. No, but, but they have a very long tradition of working with wool over there. And so and they discovered from Lisbon or went there because they were like centenary factories around that area, and they were all abandoned and during the financial crisis, but during the 80s, they will, they will went bankrupt. And but they, they managed to buy the looms for two or three different factories, and fix them and create a new factory. And, and they managed to adapt those looms to which are amazing, they're like, no old drains, it's amazing how they work and the specific set of the fabrics they can do with that, you know, very, very old school. But apart from that, they they put together an archive of fabrics with one another years old, you know, which were like for two years on, on the rain and then outside. So they, they they put all that archive together, where you can see like, amazing stuff, like all kinds of patterns, but the textures also and it's very, very rich and inspiring. Archive they they are there. So we started from that develop some fabrics there. And and it's amazing because when when you see like old pictures, like from the 40s of the 30s you tend to imagine that people would you know dress in a very boring way because all the pictures you see is mostly black and white, right? Yeah, but you realise like the the amazing colours they were wearing, like you know electric blues and yellows and stuff so so and in fact, our collection our first lesson really translated a little bit of that that approach they had in the past you know, people either wow what a funky colour but think Fact versus just replicating like last night very old. Yeah it's a shame for all of the people in the 30s and 40s the photos were literally not doing them justice because the colours were that they were wearing well bring brings me on to the website that I had on those around. And I gotta say I fell in love with the website because I always like to, I like websites that go where you want them to go so you kind of navigate and you don't get lost down wormholes or rabbit holes and it's not all brick a blocker it does feel like there's been a little bit of love and care gone into it and you also have like, different varieties of models like old models, seasoned veterans, I'd like to say modelling these clothes making it look great for anybody of any age to where was that must have been purposeful right that must have been by design or main idea we wanted the brand to be very transitional in terms of of final public you know, we really wanted to like 18 year old kid the word but also an 80 year old look look good and be be proud and some choice of basis to work which happens with that makes us really happen sometimes we managed to see like people 8070 8090 years old buying like proper Shetland jumper you know like the blade the trousers people like that they like to dress properly but but they they maybe these that breed these have something that they don't expect to see something in a shop like our shops, you know, and that's really, really really good to us. What's the mood like in your shop Jose so you do have bricks and mortar as well. It's not just online. Does the shop reflect what you might see online as well? Is there like a fruit line that connects the bricks and mortar? Yeah. The shop as is the first shop we open it's here in in Ribeira in Porto downtown by the river and its centenary pharmacy. So no old pharmacy and we we managed to cap it exactly as it was but but also it somehow elements inside we we hired this This fisherman from little fisherman village next to Porter to do to do the wardrobes with with fishing techniques with the nets and stuff so it's with they did like the Iren structure. Like they do the jump Yeah, no no iron structures like the ladder you say the to catch the fish. Yeah, yeah. They put these cages like under so they are very similar wardrobes they did by hand and stuff. So the the and like the layers we have it's very funky. It's a mix of our fish market with but then with with all the fabrics and the textures, it makes us very special. I think shopping experience. Is that where you work? Yeah, no, we have an office to that at the beginning. We were working there it was our our first office, right? But then it was such a beautiful place that we were we thought it would make sense to open to the public. Right and which we did but we were still working there at same time which was a little bit confused at the beginning because people would call their work we're working on our computers people would look at us and say is this a sharp today said please get me in and so we decided at some point to make it a shop only. And so we moved the office to and to another place Yeah. Okay, now it's only a shop and the plan is to have some more shops maybe we have another one in Lisbon. Yeah, we have another one in Lisbon. And we are opening a new one in shop here in Porto but by the ocean yeah in our in the in the near future. We are plans is to open one or two more shops but abroad. Yeah. And here's a question for you just off the top of my head. Just thought about this. I've had quite a few founders and designers on the podcast before and I've Find a lot of their brands make their clothes out of the factories in Portugal, whether it's shoes or whether it's loungewear Riviera, where do you have you found that the factories are getting inundated or maybe saturated perhaps as a lot of people not just in Portugal looking to get close me there, but outside of Portugal as well. I wouldn't say saturated but because there are a lot of shops, new shop, new new factories opening, which is good. It of course is useful for the economy and for the industry, which was really rich, like during the 80s. But during the late 80s, and the 90s the world when in a pretty bad way. And, but tradition was there. So people started to agree again, returning from from the East and Northern African stuff back to Portugal because it's easy to travel here first. And then like live in England or France or whatever, Italy it's very easy to miss two hours in a plane so it's easy. And then pretty much everybody speaks English like the approach commercial approach is very good and easy. So all of a sudden it's that we started growing again of course the the commercial area with people like from new generations and returning to portrait and speaking English and French properly. So I think it helped it helped a lot. Yeah. Well, that's interesting here because it's, I often it's pretty much every other designer that comes on the show. We'll talk about the factories over there so it does feel like it's the hub of especially startup brands maybe the factories can do limited runs or perhaps smaller runs for cheaper than they can do over here in the UK. Actually, there's a there's a lot of big brands like more luxury brands working here but they of course they do some parts of their collection like for instance they don't do all the jersey but they do like sections of the collection like some spell would do a collection over there and then and then some stuff over here as well. All you do was to work I mean why MC have been so many you know? Yeah. All of you see all of your competitors Yeah, and the friends most of them yeah, go better than friends. Yeah. And so have we got any plans to expand Lopes clothing over to here in the UK Jose maybe concessions and Selfridges John Lewis how have you got plans for any bricks and mortar here? We are working currently working with John Lewis and Mr. Porter and some other big players but our main focus is we have a great we have a great agent import in for the UK which is brand progression and besides being a friend someone mark but this is someone I know from for 20 years now and and he helped us a lot in the beginning because when we started the collection the first collection we didn't have nothing to show to the trade shows you know so they will do you ever look book to have something and when we did and so so I contact Mark instead of well I know you guys you guys have good days so you're more than welcome to go he was organising jacket required at the time it was it will be like the first season of jacket required. And so he invited us and we went in and then like a few seasons after he became our agent and I mean I don't know if you know him but it's a very very modern election and and the lovely Mark Batista and yet some some projects some some retail projects like number six and stuff. So we knew was really helpful is like I would say our Godfather in the in the UK, that's for sure. And so we were in very good hands then the business is growing and I think in in very good shops and projects but the thing is, we started with an independent shops and we I mean we are no no rush of of growing Oh, not much expectations in turning La Paz in a big business because me and Andrew, we love what we do. And we, we really want to keep doing this in a in a slow pace, you know, like, that's what we like to do in our daily basis. So and I think the the, the independent, independent retailers are the ones who can keep this real like in in a very palpable way. Of course, I mean, this is a business and we need to grow up and but we always ask them first what what do they think? And if it will eventually affect their own business to where we have now independent independent retailers who are working with us for many, many years for some of them 810 years. But at the end, I think the British, the British, Shane's we we are working with really respectful of that spirit. And they they don't explore the brand in a in a in a bad way. So I think we I think we are doing it right, to be honest with you is I think it's Yeah. You know, well, yeah. I mean, you're you're taking your time, and you're making sure that I guess the products good looking good. And everything's coming from a genuine place rather than looking to cookie cutter stuff and making a quick buck. Yeah, that's for sure. Yeah, I would say I mean, so I used to work in an independent fashion store. And what I'd really like would be the upcoming brands that perhaps people hadn't heard of, I mean, I'm not saying you're up and coming, you got a few shops everywhere now. So you're pretty, you're pretty well on your way. But I would always like telling somebody or customer, a little nugget about the brand, like a little something that would inspire them to buy the piece, maybe a story from the journey of the founders, like why they founded the brand or the relationship between the friends. So like between you and Andre, what would you what would the pitch be? I suppose if I was to say like, Oh, you got to try Lopez, Cloney. And rarely, we are friends for many, many years. In fact, my my father was a good friend of androids, mother. So we know each other for a long, long time. We never had plans to do something together because Andrea was working undress mother. Yeah. She had a distribution company. You're in, in, in, in Porto, mostly of Italian brands. And Andre Yeah, the shop and I had a shop before too. Right. Okay. But we, we we we both, like, gloats and, and everything around that but all of a sudden, I was working well, in advertising our six years, you're on the National Theatre, you're in the communications area. And Andre was working his mother's company too. But all of a sudden, we felt like I felt like everything in a new project would be interesting, apart from the advertising and communications and Dre wanted to give a different shift to his shop, because he had a shop in in urine port, but he was living in London. So we wanted to do like something different with with the shop. And that's when we started to think about distributing some some, some other brands here. And as I told you in the beginning, so the economy was was really low. And we let's try to do it the other way around. I mean, we, we like these, let's try to put a collection together with the things we like and we will like we would wear and like, but something transversal like something like anyone can use, you know, like, not not that much into fashion. But more into clothing. It was our main idea. So the idea of that model that he was that you were showing me on the website was pretty much to to pass that idea through that message. You know, your child, this is this guy is 73 years old. Now if he can wear these and look cool on days, I mean, that's all it was like, yeah. Well, that's yeah, that's a great key message to have because I mean, I would often have you know, older gentlemen come into the shop and just say, Oh, this looks far too young for me. And then I you know, they would perhaps moonwalk out of my shop but having some pictures of An older gentleman wearing this clothes as well as younger gentleman would, would convince him it's almost like a they have the trust and you know, they feel like they're not taking a chance. And here's our our model for since we started all we mean we are working with them in all the E sells fish nets on the street markets, and he's a very humble, nice guy but working in with us since the very beginning and people now recognises in the city. In fact, Mario Testino did an editorial shooting with with Gigi added and they they the production callers to see if they could include this guy because he Oh, that's terrific just shrunk face and yeah. Well, I mean, I wish they did. That's fine person. Well, you got to head over to the website. Give the website a shout out. Please Jose, where can people find you? The website is lastpass.bt. And our Instagram is LastPass diary LastPass diary and we'll put all the links over on the show notes over at menswear style as well so people can find out where to go. But thanks for joining us. Jose, I really enjoyed talking to you so much for the invitation. Thank you again, thank you for walking us through the brand. Best of luck. I'm in love with the clothes I'm in love with the website, so we'll certainly want to pop in next time I'm in your neck of the woods, but until next time you've been listening to their menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style dot code at uk for more menswear content and email info at menswear style dot code at UK if you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time