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New Generation: best of

They are young and bursting with ideas and determination. They want to make their companies and brands increasingly global and they rely on the knowledge of years of experience. This is the new generation that is transforming the footwear industry in Portugal. We wanted to find out about their projects and their vision of the sector.

André Oliveira, Cindicalfe
André has worked at Cindicalfe since 2008. His background is in Economy, but the footwear sector was always a part of his life. He has created the comfort footwear brand FLEX&GO, which continues to appear on women’s feet all over the world.
Let’s meet André Oliveira, from Cindicalfe.

What have been the biggest challenges in this process of managing a brand/company?
Do a lot with little. I believe this is always the biggest challenge. Developing collections is an arduous path with several aspects involved, but everything becomes easier when there’s willingness and the brand’s strong DNA. Designing desirable collections and constantly be on a high quality level is our best business card. Best of all is being successful with FLEX&GO and therefore having more doors open up with that code.

In what way do you believe it’s possible for the footwear industry to evolve over the coming years?
Everything will depend on the way we can catch up with evolution and if there will be measures (laws) that can help us prosper. There will have to be dynamic and entrepreneurial people, who clearly and transversely envisage the future in relation to the developed countries.
Shortening distances, from the industry to the costumer, can be the key to success and for that there’s technology and the art of seducing the consumers.
Therefore, I think we need to evolve our production to more own brands and this way we’ll have our future preserved. And, once more, youngsters will provide a strong contribution in this matter. Take note, I’m only talking about the national industry scene.
What advice would you give a youngster starting out in the industry?
“Give up” :)  I’ve been hearing this from the older generation since I was young. Maybe I carried on because of this.
Without doubt, I’d tell them to try to make a difference, to learn as much and as quickly as they can about the art and have a strong desire for success. Ah! And definitely to have the courage to try new and different things.

Marta and Cristiano Lopes, Wolf & Son

Brother and sister who work side by side at the family business, Jovan. Meet Marta and Cristiano Lopes.

What changes do you feel are taking place in the shoe industry?
We have witnessed many changes over the last few years. These changes are mostly related to the increasingly concern of the company’s image, at the same time that there’s a greater attention to certification and for people. Besides, the development of a more cooperative attitude in the sector should also be noted. We believe these changes are connected to the rejuvenation of the administration, especially with the entry of young work teams, that are trained, have new skills and a global perspective without company or market limits.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges in this succession process, in which you most certainly can include yourself (and which is becoming increasingly common within the sector)?

Naturally, our parents are always our main role models. They have the know-how acquired from many years of experience and priceless learning processes based on their personal practices, not on scientific or theoretical studies...
Our main challenge is to be able to incorporate our knowledge into the wisdom and experience of the older staff, who watched the companies emerge and grow and did so with humility and an eternal attitude of apprenticeship. But isn’t this the challenge every young person who enters a company experiences, no matter which company it is? That of learning from the senior staff without losing their main virtues as a “junior”, of persistence, a willingness to work and optimism.

In your opinion, what does the new generation of entrepreneurs have to offer the sector?

A new vision, new ideas, new perspectives. But, ideally, to reconcile all of that with what has been done before, the “old” visions, ideas and perspectives.


João Monteiro, Softinos
With a background in political science and a degree in international relations from the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, João Monteiro has worked at Kyaia since 2012.


In the Kyaia Group, you embraced a project from the outset: Softinos. What were the main difficulties in that process?
I had some struggles finding the right direction for the brand, always trying to ensure I respected the core characteristics of soft leathers, colours and materials, while at the same time thinking of ways to modernise Softinos. We had two seasons that were a learning experience until we arrived where we wanted to be. From there everything became easier and now designing our collection is in perfectly alignment with all players within the company.


In what way do you believe it’s possible for the footwear industry to evolve over the coming years?

I think I already started on this topic in the previous question. The technologies that are being developed will allow the footwear sector to completely redesign itself and offer a huge range of opportunities, at both the production and distribution level. The online world is another thing that’s a reality that will continue to grow in coming years. We can easily conclude this if we look at what the major footwear and clothing players worldwide are doing. For instances, Adidas is making 1.6 thousand million euros through its e-commerce section each year and is closing stores to dedicate itself to online sales, expecting to reach a value of 4 billion euros per year by 2020.

What advice would you give a youngster starting out in the industry?

If I may, I’ll give two pieces of advice because of the two realities I experience and which, in my humble opinion, are not correct. I see a lot of concept ideas that are very interesting when they appear but which are quickly devalued by giving in to the pressure of what is “fashionable at the moment”. If you have an interesting idea that you believe in, you should stick with it without bowing to any pressures. This was an effort I had to make a lot because at Softinos we have core values that must always be respected, regardless of what is fashionable. The second one is similar to the first. Things take their time. We see a lot of new brands that no longer exist one year later. It takes a lot of time and investment to build a brand, especially in these troubled times for the business sector. It takes patience, persistence and hard work.


Agostinho Marques, Exceed Shoe Thinkers
Agostinho has a background in marketing and has worked alongside his father in the company since 2008. Agostinho is part of the third generation of Dura.

In your opinion, what does the new generation of entrepreneurs have to offer the sector?

A different insight… The merging within the sector of qualified people in several areas has brought with it other work methods, more theoretical knowledge, a more realistic perception of the importance of customer satisfaction and a willingness to do the work even better. However, we shouldn’t forget that although this is one of the country’s most traditional industries, APICCAPS has provided major support for several decades in defining strategic plans and image enhancement campaigns of the companies and the sector, in general, abroad.
Yet we already know that past success does not guarantee future success. Therefore, we must be aware of the importance of investing in technological innovation and production efficiency because of the enormous responsibility. In truth, we have the life and economic stability of thousands of people in our hands.

In what way do you believe it’s possible for the footwear industry to evolve over the coming years?
Investment in training is fundamental. There is still a lack of qualified workers in the industry. It’s important to rethink the education sector in Portugal. Youngsters need to get in touch with the labour market at an earlier stage of their academic career and it needs to be designed to be more geared towards specialisation. It is also important for the footwear cluster to not evolve at two speeds… To become better, we need access to the best raw materials and components. Finally, investment in design is not news but it is essential to reach segments with greater added value.

What advice would you give a youngster starting out in the industry?

I would say to them to warn their family and friends. This industry will completely absorb them and, in the end, there’s not a lot of time for anything else. Nevertheless, it is very rewarding.

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