The company specializing in neck accessories is betting on sustainable raw materials and considering using more Portuguese fabrics for its ties. With the main business still paused, António Manuel de Sousa continues to work on the masks and launched HatDoc, a specific brand for caps.
The «small family business», as the managing partner Ana Lisa Sousa describes, can be reduced in size, with its 10 workers, but the projects are more and more. Embarking on the green wave that has transformed the fashion industry worldwide, António Manuel de Sousa is advancing in environmental sustainability and offering, for the first time, more “environmentally friendly” ties.
The choice fell on a Lemar fabric that uses Sequal, a fiber produced by recycling plastic collected from the sea. «Recycled fabrics are a first for us», recognizes Ana Lisa Sousa. «Recycled fabrics are already starting to exist, but it is not yet a necessity, the market is not yet in demand. For us it could be the beginning of a new cycle », explains the managing partner to Portugal Têxtil.
A cycle that will not only have more sustainable materials, but could lead to a reduction in the carbon footprint in transport, namely with purchases in Portugal. “In the tie shop we buy everything in Italy – they are the ones who normally have tie fabrics. From the moment we start to see that, at the national level, we already have proposals in which the lengths are not very large, which is something that is also important for us, I think it is interesting to be putting a part of recycled in our production and reinforce “made in Portugal”, says Ana Lisa Sousa.
These ties with recycled fabrics were also featured at iTechStyle Green Circle, on the 23rd and 24th of September at Modtissimo, where they were used to produce a dress designed by Manifesto Moda. «We were curious to participate in the Green Circle and this year we succeeded», reveals the managing partner. The project turned out to be «a pleasant surprise, because it is not easy to build a garment based on ties. We love it », he confesses.
The business of formal fashion accessories – such as ties, ties and vests -, which are the core business of António Manuel de Sousa and his own brand Vandoma, is, however, practically stopped since the beginning of the pandemic. «The tie has not been in fashion for many years, but I have always defended the market niche. We have clients who insist on wearing the tie, but they are niches ”, admits Ana Lisa Sousa. Covid-19 took another hit, as all formal events, such as weddings or communions, typical of the summer, did not happen. “The share of exports [which corresponded to about 30% of the approximately 700 thousand euros of turnover last year] also stopped – customers were forced to close deals, so orders were all postponed”, he indicates .
HatDoc is new bet
Therefore, the company turned to other niches, namely masks – which currently have level 2 and level 3 certification, in different models and for adults and children – and caps for health professionals. «In the masks we took vintage fabrics from ties that we had in stock and we were able to take advantage of designs that would hardly come out in ties again. That is why our masks are different – they are printed, colored, have dolls, flowers, … », says Ana Lisa Sousa. «However, there were doctors who asked me to develop caps. And why not? We have the fabrics and we thought it was funny to register the brand, because in Portugal there is no company that works with caps », he adds.
The company has also maintained contact with regular customers, not through professional fairs, which were one of the privileged vehicles, but through possible channels, such as the telephone and the Internet. «The fact that we have direct contact with customers helps a lot. We keep in touch and suppress some, few, needs they have », points out the managing partner.
A nova coleção, mais pequena, tem sido ocasionalmente apresentada, consoante os clientes, e há alguma esperança na retoma do mercado, que permita compensar a quebra do volume de negócios que, face a 2019, ficou reduzido a metade. «Neste momento, a nossa faturação está 50% abaixo. Não me posso queixar porque, felizmente, temos o trabalho com as máscaras, mas não é o que queremos», assume Ana Lisa Sousa. «Acho que poderemos vir a recuperar, porque isto é tudo muito incerto. Poderá haver uma retoma no mês de novembro, por exemplo, se os clientes estrangeiros precisarem de artigo», acredita.