milan — Factory tours offered to final consumers are one of the implementations that distinguish the Portuguese brand ISTO in terms of transparency.
The company came up with the concept of “factorism” to let customers experience first-hand how products are made, rather than just talking about environmental and social initiatives.
The project adds to a range of initiatives, from offering price transparency to on-demand production to support the eco-mind behind the brand, which was launched in 2017 by a trio of young talent from various industries. will be
Pedro Palha, co-founder and CEO of ISTO, fits the modern archetype of the millennial entrepreneur. Boasting a background in business management, he became interested in fashion and the direct-to-consumer model in 2014 while working for a German company in Mexico. On his return to Portugal, Paglia and his former collaborator Vasco, who specializes in advertising, met Mendonza. With Digital, he began envisioning marketing — a brand that could meet personal demands for value-for-money clothing with understated elegance.
They were encouraged by the potential of their home country, as Portugal is densely populated with textile factories supplying international brands. “I think our fashion industry exports about 95% of what we produce….we have a lot of quality and expertise, but fashion culture [other countries]’” Perha pointed out.
The lack of local brands further widened the gap to fill the market, eventually prompting Pallha, Mendonza and graphic designer Pedro Gaspar to launch ISTO, rooting the company in sustainability and classic design.
“We all liked well-made clothes, but we couldn’t find anything affordable. Everything we liked at that moment was either very cheap or very expensive.” I did,” said Palia. “But most importantly, we wanted to create something with purpose. Everything had to be coherent and make sense.”
Therefore, the product assortment is made with organic and recyclable fabrics from certified suppliers, minimalist design and long-lasting words with circularity in mind. It rests on a permanent collection of robe essentials. It reflects pragmatism.
The name of the brand itself, which means ‘this’ in Portuguese, is an acronym for the four pillars of character: independent thinking, superior quality, transparency and organic textiles. Paglia specifically emphasized the company’s financial independence, which allows the founders to set their own terms regarding the frequency of drops and avoid following seasonality and trends in the fashion industry.
“We spent six months developing the white t-shirt and another six months developing the oxford shirt. The whole brand started with the two most important items for men. No, just good storytelling,” says Palha. The opening of the brand’s first store in Lisbon in 2018 emphasizes that “it helped us grow and reinvest everything in our collections.”
Started as a menswear brand, ISTO’s collection includes basics such as t-shirts, linen shirts, polo shirts, corduroy pants, chinos, wool sweaters and safari jackets. The line includes a selection of womenswear, undyed lines and accessories such as scarves, belts, beanies and baseball caps.
The “Factourism” project was launched earlier this year to further enhance our storytelling while fulfilling our overall mission of empowering our customers with knowledge and transparency. Participants in the initiative can learn about the process and understand how organic garments are made through free guided tours to the north of the country, where local textile hubs and factories ISTO works with. increase.
So far, each trip has involved about 26 people, selected during registration on the brand’s website. “He has 200 people signing up for trips, including users from Singapore,” he said. The co-founder is committed to offering more frequent tours in light of growing interest, believing that “today, it’s important to be close to customers and provide a personalized experience.” I’m here.
Another tool ISTO utilizes to perpetuate its mission of full transparency is the website where the list of suppliers is displayed. Mainly local small businesses, including NGS Malhas, a family business that manufactures his t-shirt and sweatshirt jerseys for ISTO. His Orfama company of knitwear. Docas Confecções shirt specialist, his Somelos company that offers shirt fabrics from linen to flannel. Lamosa also makes the brand’s best-selling work his jacket available on demand through a service that further reflects ISTO’s quest to limit overproduction, reduce waste and minimize environmental impact. manufacturing.
The brand’s online platform displays extensive information on the manufacturing process, details on fabric functionality, and pricing details alongside garment care guides, giving users clarity on how much ISTO paid for each component of the garment. I understand.
For example, a single T-shirt sold for €34 has a material cost of €12.65, and the fabric price is broken down to €6.38. The label is 0.14 euros. The labor costs are 4.64 euros and the transport costs 0.09 euros. For the 179 euro shirt, the clothing material cost also shows the cost of salaries, marketing and rent.
Overall, ISTO prices range from €34 to €275, with an average basket total of around €140, Palha said.
Despite the gradual expansion of the assortment, the bestsellers are still basic tees in classic color schemes, “can’t be beaten from day one.” In addition, there is also the work his jacket, which Palha defined as a money driver due to its high price tag.
In addition to e-commerce, the brand has four brick-and-mortar stores in Lisbon, from its first flagship store in the Principe Real district to its newest store, which opened this month in the city’s oldest mall, Amoreiras. Recently, the company also opened his pop-up store in Porto. This is a retail format that Paha is considering expanding overseas in the near future, starting in Paris.
The label already has an international footprint, as sales online and outside Portugal account for 60% of its total revenue. Overall, ISTO’s turnover reached 1.2 million euros last year and is expected to double by 2022, Palha said.
The United States is the best performing market online, followed by Germany, France and the United Kingdom, along with Portugal.
Today, most collections still target a male audience, which accounts for 90% of sales. Even though ISTO has been building womenswear products for years, Palha said the company has now changed its strategy and is halting development in that division.
“At the moment, I don’t think we’re putting enough effort into manufacturing women’s products, and we don’t have venture capital like funding. [backing us]You can’t do much, so you have to choose carefully what you do. [understanding] What is the purpose of women? should i do it or not? Is ISTO meant to be for women or is there even room for another women’s company? And if there is room, is it under [the] this [banner] Or through another brand? what is our differentiation? said Parha.
“There is also interesting buying behavior that reinforces this. [focus on men’s]: Few rivals [in terms of brands] Male customers are more loyal to each brand.they buy less [frequently] But better.And when they buy they buy more [from ISTO] There is nothing more attractive to us than a woman who is always looking for something new. ”
Parja’s intention is to redirect investments toward the addition of other wardrobe staples, enhance outerwear to better cover the winter season, and strengthen its accessory offering.
Most recently, ISTO introduced blue jeans and a cashmere sweater. The former was developed using denim supplied by Italian specialist Candiani, ensuring his sustainable approach to one of the most polluted fashion items. The latter is ISTO’s first product manufactured outside Portugal, as it is produced entirely by the Italian textile company Cariaggi. Retail prices for the blue jeans and cashmere sweater are €138 and €275 respectively.
When asked about his competitors, Palha thanked Swedish brand Asket, but emphasized the difference in scale, following and advocacy. From the very beginning, he remained open to the idea of having investors in the company, as long as they added value to their expertise and know-how rather than just an injection of capital.
“We don’t lie. I want to make money, but I want to do this in the long run. My dream is to leave this company to my grandchildren,” concluded Perha.