Meet the Maker - ISTO.
One of the founders of ISTO, Pedro Palha, decided to share with us some intimate details regarding the brand´s past, present and future.
Read the interview below.
About the Brand
Q: Your website describes a little bit about how you (the founders) met and initiated this project. But how have you decided which type of product you wanted to sell? What sparked the interest in fashion?
A: “We started to talk and realized that the three of us felt the same thing - we liked clothes, good quality clothing, and to dress well. But most of the times, almost every time, we couldn't afford it because it was too expensive. And the accessible clothing was not as pretty, or not well made or didn't had the same quality. After concluding this, we made some research together and realized that it was possible to make good quality clothing for accessible prices - and that's why we decided to develop fashion clothing.”
Q: The beginning of a brand is usually complicated, taking some time to be recognized. How was the beginning of ISTO? Does your target audience see the brand like you want to?
A:“The beginning was… is always complicated right?! Takes much longer to accomplish things. It was what we were expecting. There was a period of six months in which we wanted so bad to launch the brand, but haven't reached the perfect t-shirt and shirt to start with. Then, when we did launch the brand, the beginning went very well, people understood very well the message that we wanted to deliver and they were very receptive towards our business model. And….what was the second question again?”
Q: Does your target audience see the brand like you want to?
A:“I think so, yes. As we reach more and more people, the feedback keeps being super positive. They understand the message that we want to communicate at the end. And, most of all, they truly appreciate the quality of our garments.”
Q: Do you keep the model of production seasonal (Spring/ Summer & Autumn/ Winter), with small production quantities or is the process timeless?
A:“Right so…. All the products in our collection are made to be timeless. We want to create a men's wardrobe (and now we started the women's) that is timeless so that people can use our clothing all year long. It's obvious that the flannel or linen shirts are more appropriate to be used in Winter and Summer respectively, but we felt that they are pieces of clothing that will always be at our store because there are people that tend to be colder or warmer; and our goal is to sell abroad (and we are achieving it (!)) and while summer is here, winter is somewhere else in the world.”
About the Production
Q: Where are the pieces produced?
A: “All the pieces are produced in the North of Portugal.”
Q: How do you control your supply chain? From the production of materials, to the production and distribution of the pieces and the respective commercialization?
A: “We control the entire supply-chain (although we do not control their energy, water and transportation spending). From the organic cotton producer to the consumer. We do know where the Organic Cotton comes from (GOTS certified supplier), and we guarantee that all the other suppliers are also certified by the highest international standards (all our suppliers are GOTS, OEKO-TEX and SGS certified). When finished, all garments come right away to our warehouse, where we make quality controls; after that, they either go directly to ours clients (online purchases) or go to a few select stores we recently partnered, like Fair Bazaar. Then, partners like Fair Bazaar will deliver the product in the best possible way.”
Q: What is the origin of the organic cotton and linen?
A: “The linen comes from Portugal and the organic cotton from Turkey.”
Q: Regarding the materials, you use organic cotton and linen, but do you think about producing with other types of materials?
A: “Right now we are thinking about doing silk shirts (which is also a natural fabric) for women. But it's still in our head we haven't even started to make the prototypes or anything. But that's about it because we don't have lots of money to invest - so we have to take it slow. But the next products that we are planning on investing are mostly made with organic cotton: some sweatshirts, some coats, a few more shirts and t-shirts etc.”
Q: Regarding the model of the pieces. Once you decide upon it, do you take into consideration the textile waste? And are the wasted materials reused in any way?
A: “Our factories are very developed so the cut that is made is already very efficient not wasting much of the fabric. The cut is made with machinery, which even though might be perceived as bad, it's much more efficient when it comes to fabric saving. After the cut, the making is made by the fabric workers.”
About the Future
Q: We read on the website that you made lots of networking to start the brand, building partnerships. Do you believe that the future will be (or already is) made of collaborations?
A: “Definitely. Moreover, it's a great way for us to learn with each other and to be able to leverage good things from both sides.”
Q: What would you like to reach with ISTO? What is the brand´s goal?
A: “We would, definitely, like to keep being a brand of reference in Portugal regarding quality and sustainability. We would like to be one of the biggest Portuguese brands and with lots of good feedback in Portugal. And specially, to have good feedback in foreign countries so that, we get the “transparently made in Portugal” known, which is our tag-line. That is it - we really want to be known and be out-of-borders.”
Q: How do you think that the brand will get more international?
A: “With partnerships, a few stores, partnerships with a few photographers, a few artists - so with people with whom we identify with and share the same values.”
Q: Do you have any official certification?
A: “We started contacting B Corporation, which is a worldwide certification. To be a B corporation brand you need to make big tests and assessments and only then they can check if you are a B corporation or not, to prove that you are sustainable, fair trade etc. We are initiating the process and it's our goal to become a B Corporation brand.”
Q: You´ve recently started to produce womenswear. What were the reasons behind this decision - the demand from consumers or did you already had this in mind from the start?
A: “Honestly, it was because of the number of messages that we received. Lots of women asked us to make feminine products, specially basics, because it was hard to find basics for an accessible price and with the same quality as the men´s clothing we produce.”