Launched in October 2016, new artisanal menswear brand Classic Portugal aims to showcase the traditional manufacturing techniques from the rugged, yet beautiful Serra Da Estrela in Northern Portugal. The Serra Da Estrela region has long been the centre of a thriving wool trade and each sweater in the Classic Portuguese collection has been made from a fine blend of 90% merino wool and 10% cashmere. I recently caught up with the founder, Robin da Silva, to find out more. Welcome Robin…
Hi! I’m Robin, the son of a Portuguese Father and British mother and a recent graduate from University College London. I have lived in London for over 5 years now and have no intention of leaving it behind! I enjoy going shopping and seeking out new fashion trends that I can adopt. I’ve really become a young fashionista with a passion for entrepreneurship. I love designing, creating and seeing ideas turning into real items I can touch and feel.
What was the inspiration behind Classic Portuguese?
I was walking through the hills of the Serra da Estrela, when I came across an old Portuguese mill. It was only after we’d met with the owner that we’d understood how much heritage and history there was behind wool trade and manufacturing in the area, that had been passed on from generation to generation. It so happened that I’d already been living in London for a few years now and I’d learnt to understand the luxury goods market, and the growing demand for quality Portuguese items. That’s when the idea was born.
Growing up, was your career aspirations fashion orientated or did you have another career in mind? When did you start to cultivate an interest in textiles?
If I’m honest, I always thought I was going to become a footballer, as I was playing professional football throughout my teenage years. I was put through to the Belgian national trials and a friend of mine is now playing for Atletico Madrid. As you can see, my career was never intended to end up in fashion, but I quickly developed a passion for dressing well while in London due to the constant exposure to new trends and styles. Although I also wanted to start my own company and couldn’t find a brand I could 100% relate to, my visit to the Serra da Estrela and life in London, perfectly aligned with my growing passion for fashion and starting a company. I believed (and still do) that I had an idea that was unique enough to make a positive change to everybody’s perception of Portuguese luxury.
Your Serra capsule collection of sweaters consist of 3 styles. What do you look for when deciding what styles to add to your brand – popular trend styles, traditional designs, customer suggestions, your own tastes or bits of all those?
I look for styles that are simple, classic and make people look and feel good. I like to create designs that never go out of fashion and I also try and avoid clothes where the logos are too obvious. I want people to recognise the piece of clothing for its quality and style, not for the brand.
From your current collection, what has been your most popular design? Have you got a personal favourite?
The Terracotta Serra (beige) has been the most popular by far but my favourite definitely has to be the Alpine one. However, I do like all three in the collection (of course).
Your artisanal menswear hails from the Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in Portugal. What is it about the area that has encouraged such a thriving wool trade?
For centuries, the Serra da Estrela has been known for its unique characteristics, offering an ideal meeting point for seasonal flock paths which enabled many mountain towns to specialise in wool manufacturing. Some of these flock paths date back to the 13th century which were formed by shepherds who would follow wool routes with their herd. The people of the Serra relied on wool which was used to protect, provide comfort and make a living. This rare culture, allowed manufacturing and dyeing knowledge to be preserved and improved throughout hundreds of years, creating an unparalleled hub for wool manufacturing.
The Serra capsule collection of sweaters for this current season are available in shades of Alpine, Ocean and Terracotta. What new items/styles/colours are you planning to add to your menswear collection in 2017?
We will be diversifying our selected range by adding a few more dyes, possibly black and will also be looking at offering thick 100% cotton t-shirts, made in Portugal.
Although the sweaters are made in Portugal, are they available to purchase worldwide?
Yes, we offer free delivery world-wide as standard. We pride ourselves in offering nothing but the best service. So you’re definitely in good hands.
Do you see Classic Portuguese branching out into womenswear, unisex, or children swear in the future or are you just concentrating on the menswear market?
Yes, eventually we see ourselves developing a women’s range as we’ve had considerable interest. It’s still very early days but we are excited for the future. We’re concentrating our efforts on menswear for now.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
It really depends where I’m heading to, but I always like to be ready for any occasion. That’s why I like blending smart and casual items, and the Classic Portuguese sweaters offer the perfect balance. I’d often wear the Alpine Serra or the Terracotta Serra over a white shirt or t-shirt with some black jeans, complimented by some black desert boots. My collection turns dressing elegantly into an effortless task.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
I really like A.P.C. and A.M.I, or the select range Liberty offers as they focus on luxury boutique brands. I also really like J.Crew as they offer quality staple styles.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I was thinking of purchasing a couple of light shirts fom J.Crew that would really look good beneath one of the sweaters of The Serra Collection. I’m also looking at some Clarks desert boots which go well with anything when you want to dress smart casual. I also love my Superga trainers for those chilled-out evenings, so I’m also looking at getting another pair.
Boots or Shoes?
Definitely boots for me. I prefer the style that they have when wearing slim jeans which is what I always wear.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Classic Portuguese
Thank you very much for agreeing to be on the blog, Robin, and I’m so pleased that you’re loving life in my home city & birthplace, London. Going back some generations though, my mum’s family (via her dad) originally came from Portugal. I’m loving how your idea for Classic Portuguese came about too. Dear readers, have you ever experienced such a moment when a visit to somewhere changed the course of your life? Don’t be shy, do share your experiences, I’d love to know!
All photographs published with kind permission from Robin da Silva/Classic Portuguese.