The first three things that come to mind about Portugal are probably Ronaldo, Ronaldo and again Ronaldo. Portugal has more to offer than the second best footballer in the world, so last week I had the chance to see for myself for the first time. The reason for Melvin's and my trip was the current and future projects of Born Originals.
But let's go back a few years. When I got the information about two years ago that Born Originals will soon produce their own sneakers in Portugal, it was cool and exciting news first of all. When the first samples of our first model, the "Vita Mid Top" came, the excitement turned into great anticipation. Exactly the same excitement and anticipation developed with our second shoe collection, the M1, M2, W3 and W4. When the delivery arrives at the end and you finally have your own pair that exactly meets your own expectations, you are relieved and happy. So I got several more pairs of shoes in the last two years, but had no idea how many steps are necessary to have the perfect sneaker in the end. This changed with the trip to Portugal.
After a few successful days in Düsseldorf and Cologne, Melvin and I left for Porto on Wednesday. Arrived at the airport, we went with the rental car directly to the first appointment, to the shoe manufactory of our confidence. There I met Jose and Patrick, who are both agents for Born Originals. The two of them have worked with big labels for many years and now focus on supporting other brands in order to be able to help with their experience and knowledge. Without the help of the two experts, one would probably be stuck in Porto, where Manufaktur and Manufaktur line up. Another advantage of the two is that they have to go to a restaurant every day at 12.30 at the latest to have a relaxed lunch. In the ideal case, they also take over the bill and we all know that free simply tastes best. But back to business. In the manufactory we looked at the current projects we are working on. Since this was my first time, they explained a few steps and showed me the production. For me as a sneakerhead, it was very interesting to watch the steps from the first step to the finished shoe. All in all we were very satisfied with the visit. Paulo, the production manager, once again did a good job. After the first appointment we went on to a factory that only makes laces. It sounds strange, but there is simply a factory or a specialist for everything you need. Since we got through there pretty quickly, we went to lunch. After a well-deserved break, the next appointments were due. We visited two leather manufactories. You will soon see what exactly we did there. Also these visits were very interesting for me again, because one simply saw there, how much craftsmanship, work and diligence is in the products.
After these two visits the first day came to an end.
Thursday morning we went straight on in the morning. The first thing was a visit to Jose and Patrick's office to discuss a few things and plan the next two days. As we are working on some new projects, we first went to the next production site. This time we went to one that only makes soles. After a successful mission there, we drove on to one of the countless leather dealers Portos. What I saw there was hard to believe. I felt there were 1000 shelves, with leather in all possible colours, in all possible strengths, in all possible qualities - simply incredible. After we decided on a few types of leather, it was lunchtime again. We ate typically Portuguese, at our expense, but the food justified every euro.
Day three started again with Paulo in the manufactory. Some last things for the next weeks were discussed and we moved on to the third and last leather manufactory. An inconspicuous detached house turned out to be our favourite. Be curious what we have for you in the future. What came afterwards? Of course a lunch again. After lunch we had our last appointment, a visit to another shoe factory. With our favourite sole we went to the discussion of some projects, here you can also look forward to new, cool stuff!
When the appointment ended in the afternoon, Melvin and I drove back to the apartment and wanted to use the rest of Friday to explore Porto. A call from Jose crossed our plan, though. At lunch we told José that we would have liked to have a look at some leather jackets. A few hours later he had found the perfect sewing shop. And as expected, we were not disappointed. Probz to Jose. The visit was a complete success and we wait full of anticipation for the first samples. Afterwards we went to a bar directly at Porto's coast to work up the week again and Friday was done.
Saturday was the last day without any appointments. With bright sunshine and about 20 degrees we did a turbo sightseeing in the morning and used the rest of the day to enjoy the sun and the weather. In the late afternoon we went back to the airport with the first sunburn of the year. During the check we noticed that some idiots had stolen the rim covers from us and that it was a huge scratch in a rim. Since I am the best driver of the world, this cannot come in any case from me. After a short bad mood we went back on the plane to Düsseldorf.
Porto, I'll see you again.
In summary, the trip to Portugal was a complete success. Everything that was on the agenda was successfully arranged and some new and exciting projects were concretized, which will be implemented in the next weeks and months. For me it was simply exciting to experience all the steps live, from the choice of leather, to the sample, to the finished product. Then experiencing the creation live in the production is also something that makes you understand again how much work there is in a pair of shoes. I can only tell positive things about Porto as a city. Good food, pleasant people, nice weather, good tea and a city by the sea. Anyone who wonders which city to visit, I recommend Porto. You should only pay attention to your rim caps…