The best sartorial addresses in Porto & the North of Portugal: Lee Osborne for Plaza Uomo magazine
This article was first published in Plaza Uomo magazine, Sweden / No.12
Flanked by the Atlantic ocean, the verdant north is a hotbed for the sartorial purist
Words + photography: Lee Osborne
Ayres Bespoke Tailor
Tailoring runs in the family of Ayres Goncalo – his grandfather was regarded as one of the finest tailors in Portugal, with a career spanning 70 years and is where a young Ayres learned his art (and presumably his iconic Scissorhands pose). Senior still pops his head around the atelier door once a week to keep an eye on his protegé. A yearning to spread his sartorial stripes on the international stage, led Ayres Junior to Madrid before moving to London where he gained valuable experience at Gieves and Hawkes on Savile Row – even making a bespoke suit for Prince Charles during his tenure. Further stints in New York and China ensued before he settled back in his native Porto – his palatial showroom neighbours Infante do Sagres, the grande dame of Porto’s hotel scene and is within earshot of the resonating chimes of the Clérigos Tower. Suits from €2,000.
Praça Dona Filipa de Lencastre, 22
Atelier 99, 4050-259 Porto
The Feeting Room I Shoemakers Collective
The Feeting Room initially dipped its toe in to the Porto menswear scene as a ‘pop up’ showcasing the very finest in Portuguese shoemaking excellence with a slant on emerging contemporary brands. This high-end concept store continues to do so through its 3-tiered flagship store in Porto’s hip Largo dos Lóis, but has added global fashion accessories, jewellery and clothing in to the mix. Set out much like a contemporary art gallery, you can drink a coffee or craft beer as you peruse brands like NTH (Nothing to Hide), Citadin, Freakloset and Perks.
Largo dos Lóios, 89, 4050-338 Porto
Carlos Santos Shoes
Carlos Santos, based in the shoemaking epicentre of Portugal, São João de Madeira, are regarded as the finest handmade shoes in Portugal. The brands’ mission statement of “spending every waking hour thinking of unique ‘gems’ to produce” is personified as you stroll around their minimalist cutting-edge shoe production line. Tradition, design, innovation and passion are the main pillars of a brand that helped internationalise the use of Goodyear Welted soles – a manual technique where machines play second fiddle. From exquisite crocodile skin derbies to tweed-trimmed full-grain navy chukka boots, the full range can be viewed in the Marques Soares department store on Porto’s swish Rua das Carmelitas.
Showroom and factory visits by appointment
Museu do Calcado
Footwear is one of Portugal’s biggest exports, and The Museu do Calcado, (Shoe Museum), part of the impressive Torre da Oliva complex charts the rise of the footwear industry that has helped shape the fortunes of the town of São João de Madeira. The great and the good have trained at the town’s Footwear Industry Training Centre which is the only facility in the world to offer students the 360-degree ability to make shoes from start to finish. Stop for coffee or lunch at the very fine Oliva Creative Factory Cafetaria.
Rua Oliveira Júnior, 501, 3700-204 São João de Madeira
Ana Lisa Sousa conducts her tie making business from her beautiful bougainvillea-fringed home in the leafy Porto suburb of Antas that doubles as the family home. Established by her father Antonio in 1982 the brand Antonio Manuel de Sousa Lda produces ties and pocket squares under the Vandoma insignia, inspired by the Patron Saint of the City of Porto, but also conducts private commissions for companies and bespoke offerings for individuals.
Rua Costa Cabral, 1020-A, Porto
Ana Sousa By appointment
They may be handcrafted in a traditional third-generation shoe workshop in Portugal’s shoemaking heartland, but online retailer Undandy, brainchild of entrepreneurs Gonçalo Simões Henriques and Rafic Daud, combine expert handcrafting with up-to-the-minute lazer-cutting shoe technology. A tour of their shoemaking facility in São João da Madeira offers shoe nerds behind the scenes access to the production process – from the way their iconic yellow-coloured insoles are nailed onto the shoe last to the innate intricacies of the hand-painted patina, the crème de la crème of the handcrafting process. Choose from either their RTW collection, delivered in 3 days, or create your own bespoke pair via Undandy’s online shoe customiser with over 50 leathers and fabric colour options, delivered in 14 days.
Factory tours by appointment
RCC Premium Shirtmakers
RCC have been producing premium shirting from their base in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the Douro river from Porto, for over 30 years. They offer a custom Made-to-Measure service, available to both clients and partners worldwide, with an estimated delivery time of 10 working days. Every shirt produced goes through the most rigorous quality control standards utilising only the very finest Thomas Mason bespoke fabrics. Split yokes, 8 stitches per cm and perfectly aligned pattern matching, some of the most defining traits of luxury shirts, come as standard at RCC. Create your shirt by appointment or by uploading your measurements online.
Rua do Emissor, 28, 4400-436 Vila Nova de Gaia
John Tweed Tailored
A good off the peg option in Porto’s downtown in between Sao Bento railway station and the Ribeira waterfront, John Tweed Tailored opened its flagship store in 2014 and fuses the finest nuances of British and Portuguese tailoring. Staples like Egyptian cotton shirts and silk/cashmere knits sit alongside field jackets and classic, all made in Portugal footwear, with a mezzanine floor dedicated to RTW suiting.
Rua Mouzinho da Silveira,145, 4050-240 Porto
Speak to any sartorially savvy gent in Porto and they’ll tell you this is where they source the casual elements of their wardrobe. Established in 2011 by childhood buddies José Miguel de Abreu and André Bastos Teixeira, the Atlantic Ocean inspired clothing label La Paz has attracted a cult following among menswear aficionados. They’ve made their forefather’s chunky fisherman knits fashionable again, and paired them alongside other staples such as sea island cotton cable-knits, urban renditions of the Sou’wester and Breton tops. The brand dropped its quirky anchor in a former pharmacy which overlooks the port warehouses of Vila Nova de Gaia. Everything is very ‘Aye aye (but very cool) Captain!’
Rua da Reboleira 23, 4050-450 Porto
This multi-concept store, that’s a cross between an art gallery and a music venue with menswear cleverly woven in between, showcases an expertly curated selection of current and emerging Portuguese designer creations. As well as stocking local brands like Portuguese Flannel and Reality Studio, the store has a penchant for collaborating with independent Portuguese brands – more recent hook ups have included Wolf & Son and Poente Eyewear. The space features a particularly strong assembling of mens’ hats, arguably the finest selection in the city from snapbacks to the finest fedoras.
Atelier des Créateurs
When entrepreneurs José Gonzalez and Gilles Zeitoun were looking for a new location for their tailoring business, they happened upon the former headquarters of the YMCA in Porto – a building that boasted tradition and savoir faire in equal measure – attributes the pair struggled to find in France and elsewhere in Europe. L’Atelier des Créateurs, is a one of a kind tailoring atelier – its rehabilitation commenced in 2007 and was entrusted to Architect Nuno Valentim who has created a sartorial Narnia across 3 levels. The floors are alive with the purr of sewing machines and steamer smoke with pattern makers, cutters, tailors and seamstresses piecing together bespoke garments for discerning fashion houses in Europe and beyond. You can, however, visit the atelier and order your very own tailormade masterpiece by appointment only. Fully customised bespoke suits upwards of €600.
Rua José Falcão 95, 4050-317 Porto
A mecca for the immaculately-groomed gent since its inception over 130 years ago, Claus Porto is the brainchild of two Germans, Ferdinand Claus and Georges Ph. Schweder, who had chosen to settle in the city. The label built its reputation on hand-crafted soaps infused with fine fragrances, drawn from the unique flora and fauna of northern Portugal’s lush countryside. But its shaving and grooming offerings are what you should beat a path towards nowadays – Eau de Colognes like Agua Porto number 5 and Musgo Real shaving cream like your Grandfather would’ve used.
Rua das Flores, 22, 4050-262 Porto
This barbers shop, which occupies a corner plot on the western fringe of Avenida Aliados, has taken care of the grooming needs of the Porto man since 1946. Nowadays Barbearia Porto, under the tutorship of Nuno Silva has expanded its repertoire to offer its clientele tattoos alongside a cut throat shave, and the opportunity to hang around for a craft beer or Cuban cigar post-crop. Meanwhile, the barber’s mascot, Rocky, the French Bulldog is permanently encamped by the front door. A good place to try Claus Porto potions before you buy, as they are the barberia’s goto skincare brand.
Praça da Liberdade 114, 4000-440 Porto
A great place to unwind with a chilled Sagres or Douro wine in Porto’s edgy Baixa district, Candelabro, with its a boho crowd and retro vibe is a café bar that masquerades as a bookstore. It not only trades books, photographs, maps, postcards and other ephemera but does a great line in vintage typewriters. It’s the kind of place Hemingway would no doubt have sought solace – its terrace even boats its own British style red telephone box.
Rua da Conceição 3, 4050-215 Porto