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From manufacturing to designing: Portugal's creative renaissance

From Nycole's casual sportswear to Sophia Kah's glamorous dresses and Hugo Costa's ethereal mixed wardrobe... Portugal is shifting from manufacturing to creation.

Portugal stands triumphant: succeeding Georgia and Finland, the country was selected to be the guest nation at the next Pitti Uomo menswear show, scheduled from January 8th to 11th 2019.

"We always love showing buyers exciting new products, and now is the time for the Portuguese to shine", commented judge Raffaello Napoleone, who will preside over the Florentine event. "Not only has the country gained real credibility for its production, it also has a strong cultural history, a past of elegance, that we are glad to revisit today."

Nycole SS18 Runway Nycole SS18

Industry professionals will discover Nycole's casual sportswear, luxurious leather goods from Ideal & Co, Hugo Costa's ethereal collection in pastel shades, and many more up-and-coming designers. These new ambassadors are following in the footsteps of their more established fellow citizens: "Over the last decade, we have seen a regeneration of our talents that has really given us a voice on the global stage," explained Paulo Vaz, General Director of the Portuguese Textile and Apparel Association.

Admittedly, some ideas still stammer and attract critics' grim criticism. But while Alexandra Moura's architectural audacities are gaining acclaim in London, Sophia Kah's or Pedro Pedro's glamorous dresses now strut the runways of Milan. And in Paris, alongside Diogo Miranda and Luis Buchinho, the duo Marques'Almeida, winner of the 2015 LVMH Prize and flagship of this new generation of designers, managed to carve itself a spot in the limelight last Fashion Week, parading half Londonian-punk, half Lisboan-poet silhouettes at the Palais de Tokyo, sporting biker helmets, light tunics, fringed dresses and studded heels.

Known mainly as a manufacturing powerhouse until now (Kenzo, Isabel Marant or Paco Rabanne all manufacture part of their collections in the country's factories), Portugal no longer wants to remain confined to producing clothing designed by foreigners. The country is aiming in all directions: marketing campaigns, exhibitions, trade shows—anything is good to showcase local talent. "We are helping both newly-launched designers as well as existing independent creators," says Mónica Neto who oversees Portugal Fashion, a key program supporting young creators. "It's about financial boosting but also establishing real strategies with them so that they can find factories and present their work abroad, find a showroom, a press agent..."

Hugo Costa Paris Show Hugo Costa's Paris Show

All initiatives which young designers benefit from: "In my beginnings, in 2010, you could say that there existed a textile industry and a shoe industry in Portugal, but not really a fashion industry in the more noble sense", remembers the thirty-something Hugo Costa, the face of January's Pitti Uomo poster.
"Today, the industry is emerging. We are organized and internationalized. This is our time. And even if we don't yet have the maturity of France or Italy, I see ourselves as teenagers: we experiment, we explore, we discover."

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