Luxury & Fashion

Jan 1, 2015

Portuguese do it better

Despite the doom and gloom, there is one Portuguese industry that's making great strides: Shoemaking, one of the most traditional and oldest industries in the country, mapping out a new future by exporting its way out of the crisis.

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Shoes made in Portugal are the third most expensive type of footwear in the world, due mainly for their authenticity and genuine material, costing an average of 64.90 euros per pair, with Portugal being the 11th largest exporter in the world of shoes, led by China, according to the World Footwear Yearbook's first ever report.

The Portuguese footwear industry, which is described as the sexiest of Europe, is now investing in its image: more aggressive in tone but without forgetting the symbols of Portugal. Portuguese footwear is literally fashionable and deserves attention from famous personalities all around the world.

Portuguese leather goods are sold practically all over the world already. The sector is going through a positive phase as Ana Maria Vasconcelos, CCO of Belcinto, admitted "We are witnessing several interesting market trends. Major brands that used to produce in countries like China or India, are now producing in Portugal". The primary reason being that theses countries' realities are changing very rapidly and very significantly. That is the case of Tunisia. All major brands that used to produce in Northern Africa are now developing their collections in Portugal. The other reason is business is getting more complicated and China can no longer produce in small quantities and the brands choose to take less risk and conduct their business with greater certainty. In order to become an international reference, Portugal has to invest further on the image and the promotion of their leather goods companies. 

The numbers speak for themselves: Portugal footwear exported 71 million pairs of shoes to over 130 countries in 2012. For the first time, the sector broke the 1.6 billion-euro barrier. Figures from the Portuguese Industrial Shoe, Components, Leather Goods and Derivates Association (APICCAPS), show that for the first time in history the global shoe manufacturing industry has exceeded 20 billion pairs.

As little was written about Portuguese footwear in Portugal, the campaign "The Sexiest Industry in Europe" has had a major impact, as demonstrated by the various mentions in international fashion magazines, particularly in blogs. The strategy was to hire producers, models, photographers, a whole team of professionals who were able to deliver fashion editorials solely with Portuguese designers, and put them in a variety of specialized publications. Production of luxury shoes is growing in Portugal, and names like Nicolas Sarkozy, Hugh Jackman and Michael Bublé cannot do without Portuguese footwear.

First, we saw the lead actors from Star Wars comfortably wearing Swear. Luís Onofre would have the honour of designing shoes for the Princess of the Asturias (Spain), and Helsar for 'superstar' Anastasia. Lately, it is Michelle Obama's turn, the most important woman in the world, to confess being seduced by Portuguese footwear.

From Portugal to the world

Created in 1979, Helsar is specialized on high quality women's shoes manufacturing. Thanks to great experience, know-how and dexterity, Helsar has achieved a remarkable position in its sector, standing at the top of the high quality shoe market and among the best performers in women shoes' manufacturers, at a national level.

Each model is thoroughly developed, inspired on latest fashion trends and design, and created with first quality materials. Helsar presents a distinct collection every season, offering a wide range of shoes for contemporary and sophisticated women. Int the early years Helsar was directed to the national market, but in accordance to the current strategy, the company has developed an international approach and the collections are being exported to several countries.

This shoe brand from São João da Madeira, has already managed to make an impact around the globe after being chosen by Kate Middleton's mother and sister, who wore Helsar creations to the royal wedding. Their focus is adequately on what they call a line of "princess shoes" for the Spring/Summer collection, with strong and cheerful colours.

Helsar is an  example  of  success  and  quality  made in Portugal. Created 32 years ago, this upmarket women's footwear brand showcases the best of the sector's Portuguese industry. Helsar's founder José Augusto Correia came early into contact with the footwear industry. In 1963, after leaving secondary school, still under Antonio Salazar's rule, he joined a women's footwear factory in S. João da Madeira. At this factory, he worked in the accounting department and later in the sales department until late 1978. Having a 15-year experience in the footwear sector, José Augusto Correia decided to launch his own company, along with a partner. Together they decided to honor their first children – Sara and Hélder – by combining both names.

On January 18th, 1979 Helser was born, originally as a children's shoe factory. The following year the brand began manufacturing exclusively high quality, comfortable, sophisticated, and original women's footwear, notably investing in creativity, design and a wide range of materials and colors. The family-owned business has been evolving ever since. Helser currently has a leading position in this sector resulting from the know-how and high capacity for innovation that characterize the company.

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