November 14, 2019 6 min read

Independent, Superb, Transparent and Organic

These are the 4 words that describe ISTO.

To anyone that doesn’t speak Portuguese, Isto (an article in the Portuguese grammar) means this.And when Pedro and his associates choose to name their brand with this word they meant to state that ISTO is all we need. Just this!

The previous 4 magical words combined are a reflection of what this brand creates to serve the modern man and more recently women, as well. Easy going, attractive, simple, good taste, conscious and smart, «ISTO is a Portuguese clothing brand focused on high-quality basics, organic materials and transparent pricing and practices», explains Pedro Palha, one of the founders of ISTO.

He is this week's chosen for the Real People Campaign to share his vision and to inspire many others wanting to build a business in the times we live in and with the challenges we face.

In these days having a business like ISTO is a statement of a lifestyle, especially in the economy we face now in Portugal. What we eat, dress and think make us who we are and states our mission in this world. With the lack of men’s sustainable products out there, he and his business partners felt the need to create their own collection with high quality and minimalist design, easy to wear every day, making ISTO's pieces a must in our day-to-day lives.

ISTO started slow but steady and has now a range of products from t-shirts to sweaters and shirts. It’s amazing to see, when someone truly believes in their own project like Pedro does, the great success that his company already reached and continues to do so. And everything came from his hard work and dedication and belief in quality over quantity: «We believe in doing better things rather than do more things», states Pedro.

ISTO is a boy’s brand that loves women. They started this journey because they realized that men's clothing lines in Portugal did not give them what they liked to wear and began buying and ordering from abroad. «Everything was very expensive and not so sustainable», he recalls. And so, ISTO was born.

It started for boys. Made for boys, thought for boys, cut for boys. They identified the two mandatory pieces to start the brand: a white T-shirt and an Oxford shirt. «The essentials for any male's wardrobe», explains Pedro. After the success they’ve had, coats, sweatshirts, flannel and linen shirts and, later, also a women's line joined the collection. «It didn't have to be anything eccentric. We like simple lines and comfortable clothes that are made to last», explains Pedro to Fair Bazaar.

How ISTO came to the world

«It came up in 2014 when I was living in Mexico and had my first contact with Everlane (USA). I was working at a startup and it was also a very energetic market. I wanted to start something on my own. Eventually it was not the time but when in 2016 I met Vasco Mendonça everything started to make sense again». Things always happened in the moment they were supposed to. «I met Vasco when we were working for the same company and the connection was immediate. We understood we were following the same industries and brands. We knew instantly we should start a business together».

This duo was joined by another friend, Pedro Gaspar, who at the time was reading the biography of Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, a Northern American pioneer clothing brand regarding the sustainability production of clothing pieces. «Pedro Gaspar got in the middle and all the pieces of the puzzle were aligned», confirms Pedro Palha. The 3 knew exactly what they were meant to do together. «Essentially we wanted to do something for good. Develop a brand that we felt had some items that could work better for most men. We felt there was an opportunity for us to create a better product and share it with even more people. And it was important for us to obviously do it in a very transparent way».

In life when we are aligned, everything falls into place. The trio was unstoppable together. In Portugal, the number 3 is often associated with the Holy Trinity, it’s “the number that God made”, the perfect number. It carries the idea of union and balance, light and blessings. And that was what they needed for their project. «Its funny how us 3, so different from each other, had the common feeling of tiredness of the same old story when it came to looking for high-quality wardrobe essentials, ridiculously priced and with mediocre quality. Us, only a few ordinary guys, felt we could do better, and so we did! Living in Portugal helped, as we are a leading country in textiles», explains the founder.

They also call it the most transparent brand of the moment. Pedro explains FB why. «All customers get the price breakdown, from production cost to markup, for any product available. We own 100% of the company».

So, instead of a price that will wrap your head around it, to understand if it’s worth buying or not, and how much we are paying to brands and workers, ISTO gives right away the answer to their consumers. If you check the website it is written like this: manufacturing cost € 3.20, labor € 3, labels € 0.14, shipping € 0.01 and packaging € 1.74. The actual cost of this example is 8,09 €, which in traditional commerce would easily reach 80 €, but in ISTO it is 28€.

All the pieces in the collection have in common the fact that they are produced in Portugal, mainly in the north, namely Barcelos, Guimarães and Vizela. In addition, they are made of one single raw material, organic cotton, and in a controlled production, which makes it possible to pay more attention to the detail of each piece.

In the end, the price is much lower than what they were used to pay for pieces made abroad. But if there were any doubts, the trio made sure to add to each piece the details of production costs. “It's a way for customers to know exactly what they are paying for”, says Pedro. Also «we believe in sustainability, transparency and independence. We only work with organic materials», tells Pedro Palha in his interview to Fair Bazaar.

Pedro says ISTO comes out of their own frustration as consumers, stating that nowadays brands have hectic calendars and numerous and different collections coming every season, where the basic pieces are always forgotten.

 How sustainability grew inside Pedro

«It definitely grew inside. Mostly right before we started ISTO. And I have to admit that it began with my business partner Pedro Gaspar. He was the one creating awareness in first place and pushing hard for all our organic materials. Everything else came after on a very natural and organic way».

We asked his opinion about how the world is today and where he thinks we are going. «To be honest I think no one actually knows. Some people talk to much, and actually do so little. What I try to apply in my personal and professional life is a good balance between what I believe is key for a sustainable life and the planet we live in, create economic value but most important of all, social value, be part of the solution and essentially do a business for good». Sounds very inspiring.

We guessed Pedro's life has its own routine essentials to contribute for sustainability and ethical living. «Well, I try to be. I try to have a sustainable business, either with its practices and its finances. I try to have my daily consumptions below what I feel reasonable and I try, mostly through ISTO, to pass that message to other people».

 The big vision

They wish that ISTO could grow in a sustainable and “healthy” way. «I would love to see ISTO successfully survive this tough industry and economy. To be seen as a better company, simply because we are doing it in a right way. I would like to see ISTO thrive in the Portuguese market and in Europe as well. To be an example, a reference to other brands».

Pedro can feel the consciousness in the consumer growing and becoming part of their lives. «We are definitely facing some improvement. Its also becoming an on-going topic on the media. So, lets see if all this coverage will have an impact on peoples daily practices».

We kindly asked for one advice to the world, from Pedro's heart. «Do it for good, with kindness. Care about others and do whats in your heart». This is it. ISTO.

Blogpost written by Filipa Veiga Editor and Yoga teacher

The Fair Bazaar
The Fair Bazaar

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