It was serendipity of the sartorial kind that led to the founding of the Portugese label La Paz. Established in 2011 by best friends André Bastos Teixeira and José Miguel de Abreu, the duo initially wanted to begin distributing international labels in Portugal. “But as the economy was very low at the time, and we had some contacts in the production area, we decided to do it the other way around — to put a collection together and try our luck in some trade shows in New York, Paris and London at the time,” says José.
They decided that La Paz, which peddles sweatshirts, short-sleeved shirts and shorts in sunny hues, would “totally embody the Porto lifestyle,” he continues. “We live right by a small fisherman’s port, so all the imagery around the boats, the colours and the people there are intrinsic to us. When I go to the bakery early in the morning, I see all these fishermen returning from the sea, wearing brightly coloured rain jackets, their heavy flannel shirts and sun-dyed hats. It’s a very strong connection to our landscape. Then we try to translate all this imagery in a more urban-friendly language to reach a different, international customer.”
The brand took off. But rather than simply offer beachwear, André and José decided that La Paz should update the summer menswear staples with a contemporary flair, with fabrication — drawing back to Portugal’s manufacturing prowess — being key. Tailored shorts with an elasticated waist, akin to those worn in school gym class, are unexpectedly rendered in crisp corduroy, giving them versatility and making them as appropriate worn on hot days in a city as at the beach. Simple pullover sweatshirts that would usually be crafted from cotton jersey are instead made from a fuzzy towelling, which adds texture and depth and conjures imagery of a much-loved beach towel. “We invest a lot in texture and fabric research as this is what gives a special touch to our range,” says José. “It gives a new approach to a classic piece.” Short-sleeved shirts come in ticking stripes, naturally crafted from Portuguese cotton.
La Paz’ directional approach puts Portugal’s manufacturing scene on the map. Originally known for producing some of the world’s best cotton jerseys, Portugal grew as a fashion powerhouse after many European labels wanted to produce closer to home after offshoring to cheaper countries became more expensive. Many Italian factories were full, which allowed Portugal to flourish. Today, where Italy is known for its historic craftsmanship, it is in Portugal where many brands find a willingness for experimentation in design and materiality — it is this that draws many international brands, with CQP’s sneakers and our own Trunk shirting and T-shirts made in Portugal.
Whether the striped towelling sweatshirt in an emerald stripe that offers a nostalgic take on the rugby sweater, to the navy corduroy shorts and sunny yellow pullover, La Paz’ playful spin on warm-weather essentials brings an uplifting mood into our everyday life.