The #PeerlessFounders interview series focuses on the stories of incredible founders who have succeeded in launching truly special brands that we love, not only for their strong ethical and sustainable standards but also for their style.
This week we had the amazing opportunity to meet Pedro Palha, founder of the Portuguese Brand ISTO.
ISTO. was founded by three men who enjoy dressing well but have grown weary of the fashion establishment.
They do not enjoy the growing disparity between quality and price and are tired of how seasonality drives irrational purchase behaviour and promotion cycles. They hate the avalanche of digital marketing and hate all the frustration that comes along with it. They want to make better products and forge a different relationship with consumers.
ISTO means « this » in Portuguese, but has another meaning to you, right? How did the brand come to the world?
ISTO. stands for Independent (we have no relationship with any big brand or investor meaning we do things as we believe) Sustainable (we believe in all sorts of sustainability: materiais, recycling, sustainable businesses and long term sustainable growth) Transparent (our business model is fully transparent) and organic (we only use organic or recycled materials). ISTO. is the brand we were seeking before but couldn’t; it’s an extension of ourselves.
You, Pedro, gained working experience in fast growing tech. startups. Do you think sustainable / ethical fashion has the same growth potential as the fast-growing businesses you have been working before?
For sure. We were doing it for quite some time now but nowadays everybody’s looking for this type of business and brand. All values should be aligned with a sustainable long-term growth strategy. Most of all, businesses like this should create value. That’s why I believe there’s a huge room for growth and the next 5 years will be very important.
Among PeerlessLabels, you are probably the most transparent brand regarding its prices and margins. Why did you emphasise this so much?
It was clear since the beginning that we needed to show our clients how much their piece cost to make. Clients need this information to make better choices, to understand the difference between production costs in Europe and in Asia and, in the end, to understand they should pay a slightly higher price but for something that was produced under the higher international standards. Businesses should seek more sustainable fabrics and higher quality, but clients will also be important to make this change!
Portugal is known in EU for the quality of its textile. How proud are you to produce local after some difficult economic times for this industry which is now recovering?
Our brand is Transparently Made in Portugal. We couldn’t do it any other way. We truly believe in our industry’s potential, in building relationships with family-owned factories and showing the world we do have amazing quality. We intend to keep this way and I’m sure we will never leave this place.
Visit ISTO‘ page if you wish to know more about the brand