Brands that matter

Breathe deeply and count up to 10. Did you feel your heart calming down? Excellent. If not, repeat until you feel that the world has become a bit calmer, that your heart has relaxed and that you are only focused on what you are reading. No, it's not a yoga class, it's an introduction of what we want to show you. In an era of profound reflection and paradigm changes, calm seems to be the word of the day throughout the universe. That universe that...also needs to stop. Or at least calm down. And never as much as today have we spoken so much about slowing down. Personally, professionally, our consumer habits, in lifestyles.

Which brings us to this bigger concept, that of sustainability. We hear it being talked about more and more, but few know what it really means. Terms and concepts are becoming confused every day. Ecology, environmentally-friendly, vegan...

We want to try and understand the weight of sustainability in our days. And how it influences brands.

But the concept is so comprehensive that, beyond the environment, it touches the community, the well-being of the world in which we live, the way we care for each other. Humans or non-humans. And the footwear industry has forged a path of rejuvenation and adaptation to these new realities.

Welcome to (y)our planet!

From the ocean to your feet: Zouri Shoes
It seems to be a story that came from a film, but it isn't. Two local friends from Minho met and created a footwear brand. It seems quite normal, if not for the shoes that were made...with plastic bottles picked up from the beach.

"Unless we take urgent measures, in 2050, our oceans will have more plastic than fish", the brand website reads. From walks on the beach, the dream of cleaning the ocean arose. Adriana Mano and António Barros, both involved in the footwear sector, decided to transform bottles and pieces of fishing nets left on the beaches into summer shoes. "Each pair of slippers or sandals incorporates between 80 and 100 grams of plastic: we are talking about 8 or 10 bottles", Adriana clarifies.

This is how Zouri was born. In technical terms, the brand doesn't incorporate any animal product, and is therefore eco-friendly vegan. From cork to rubber, all the raw materials used are natural.

In pure state: Rutz
Raquel Castro's brand is internationally known for the use of cork. "Cork has a series of characteristics, such as water-tightness, that led me to believe that it will be used in a lot of products in the future.

We need to pay a lot more attention and be more involved with the environment. Climate change is far from being a myth and there are various cases of polar ice caps melting, water levels rising, and more recently, extreme heat waves, particularly in Europe, with unprecedented deadly fires in Portugal and Greece". These events inspired Rutz to create the CorKorganic Co. line, which seeks to blend cork with environmental, organic materials, filled with natural colour.

CorKorganic is one of the first collections by Rutz walk in cork that is completely focused on sustainability, the environment and veganism. An Eco-Vegan collection that chooses non-animal, non-polluting materials or materials that substantially reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere: cork, organic cotton, microfibres and natural rubber soles and cork particles.

Less waste: Lemon Jelly
Shoes that smell of lemon seemed to be a dream, but Lemon Jelly became a reality five years ago. Fun, colourful and now...approved by PETA. The brand recently gained vegan status assigned by the international association. But it's not alone. Concerned about the environment from day one, Lemon Jelly recently presented the Wasteless line, composed of items made using waste.

For the company "when we talk about the production of high-end items, waste is inevitable. When we realized the level of waste we had, we decided that we needed to urgently do something in order to change". This is a collection where waste is transformed into new pairs of shoes.

Prolonging history, transforming it into the future: António – A Handmade Story
They are two sisters who are perpetuating their father's legacy and knowledge in the leather manufacturing industry. António – a Handmade Story is the brand belonging to Ana and Sara Mateus. With the family company’s 35 years of experience and know-how (António & Mateus), the two sisters ventured into a timeless, unisex line of bags that last "a lifetime".

Concern about the environment is essential for the company, therefore the bags are made of vegetable tanned leather. "We believe in a world where people and the environment are essential, therefore the creation of a brand with a clean and sustainable design was always our goal."


“ASPORTUGUESAS is a new footwear concept which doesn’t leave the Planet’s sustainability barefoot. We are proud to be the world’s first cork flip-flops brand, using a 100% natural raw material that comes from a tree and is collected every nine years, without ever cutting down the tree”. These words are by the asportuguesas brand. Pedro Abrantes had a dream to create a brand of environmentally-friendly slippers, which has become reality through Amorim Cork Ventures and, more recently, Kyaia.

Made of cork, a 100% natural, environmentally-friendly product, these products have revolutionised the market. An innovative and irreverent design has been added to the natural materials.

But this brand does not just focus on environmental causes. Asportuguesas invited the surfer Mcnamara to design a line of slippers based on solidarity.

Launched in May 2018, Ball?ta is a vegan shoe brand inspired by art, the human body and nature. As a vegetarian, Catarina Cardoso was looking for equally conscious options off the dinner plate and decided to create luxury footwear in a sustainable way, without using any materials that either came from or which were tested on animal: instead, she uses microfibres from recycled plastics for the uppers, while the heels are made of wood or cork. In 2020 the brand will incorporate a material made from apple fibres, thus continuing the search for ecological raw materials that have an effective performance. Between design, prototypes and production, a shoe with the Ball?ta signature takes four to six months to complete. The brand launches products at different times throughout the year, with one of its main features the integration of seasonless models, such as sandals in winter and boots in summer.