Pedro Lourenço (Managing Partner) and The Story of Green Boots 

The Fashion Law –WFMFR team visited the headquarters of the Green Boots enterprise in Alcobaça (Portugal) which produces boots from recycled tyres and biodegradable materials, as well as capes, backpacks, belts and other accessories. The design, the materials and production are entirely made in Portugal. The footwear is made at an enterprise belonging to the experienced shoemaker Rafael da Silva located near the Green Boots’ headquarters where other accessories and clothes are made. It is a story of a family business, with the determination of recovering a traditional product, creating jobs in the region and implementing sustainable standards, all in which is led by the young entrepreneur Pedro Lourenço.

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR):  How did the idea of creating a Green Boots company come about?

Pedro Lourenço: The idea of creating a footwear brand that settled into what are the roots of Portuguese footwear production came at the end of 2013. We found that in the Central region there was a niche in footwear production (despite the epicenter of this industry being in the north), which features very high quality and has an undeniable and proud history. We therefore used this as the motto for the creation of our brand.

Left: English Lace and Chita of Alcobaça used at Green Boots/ Right: Working table

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law -WFMFR): The Green Boots represent the recovery of traditional footwear, as they are a new version  of the working boots created in 1955 by the master shoemaker José Rodrigues Serrazina, made in the region where nowadays a more modern and environmentally friendly version is produced. Why did you choose these boots as the company’s main object of production?

Pedro Lourenço: We have always prided ourselves in our history. In Portugal, there are plenty of very high quality products which are under appreciated, and these boots are a good example of this.  They are products that have marked generations, which have withstood the passage of time and have become symbols of national and regional culture. What we wanted to do was to really bring these products, genes and history to the present. We wanted to make a typical Portuguese, handmade boot known to the world, one with the highest of quality and comfort, and one that has an ecological aspect and value chain sustainability.

Left: Green Boots (Oporto in the Morning) Right: Oporto by Lígia Carvalho Abreu

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR): Which elements, in terms of quality and sustainability, highlight the level of production and finishing in Green Boots?

Pedro Lourenço: All our boots are produced using the Goodyear Welt method, a method of shoe construction that dates back to 1869 and one that ensures durability, comfort and unique resistance to footwear. It also easily allows the replacement of soles, without having to disassemble the entire boot and redo the product altogether. Furthermore we pay much attention to the quality of materials used, such as the skins, which are treated without the use of chromium, making them more environmentally friendly. We also use recycled tyre soles in some of our products and only 100% Portuguese fabrics in the lining of all the products, as well as a high antibacterial density foam in the insole which ensures comfort and prevents the accumulation of bacteria responsible for bad smells in footwear.

Green Boots

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR):  Who produces Green Boots? How long does it take to produce a pair of boots?

Pedro Lourenço: Green Boots are produced in a factory in Benedita, in the Leiria district. In order to produce a pair of boots at least four hours are required, from cutting the skin, then sewing and assembling the shoe to its final finishing touches.

Inside the entreprise of Rafael da Silva where the Green Boots are made 

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR): Who is responsible for its design?

Pedro Lourenço: In our team we have two fashion designers, but the design for each model ends up being the result of several ideas given from all the team members. As we are a relatively small team, we work within a horizontal hierarchical structure in which each of us has a dominant role in all of the company’s decisions. Design is one of the most important decisions and therefore we always rely on everyone’s input so that the result is the best it could possibly be.

 

Left: Green Boots (Amsterdam in the Morning) Right: Amsterdam by João Nuno Teixeira

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR): Has anyone tried to copy the Green Boots’ model without authorisation? If so, have you adopted any measures to prevent Knockoffs?

Pedro Lourenço: In recent months we have witnessed a growing market in Green Boots knockoffs. Unfortunately it is something we cannot avoid, but it appears to be a sign of prestige. We know that our products have a high markup, but this is the only way to maintain product quality as well as the service we provide. So, even though we know that knockoffs always have a negative impact on the brand, we also know that our customers know us for the excellent service we provide by using top quality products. And this is our commitment.

 

Left: Original Green Boots  (Lisbon by Evening) Right: Knockoff

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR): What other products does Green Boots manufacture? Who is responsible for the design?

Pedro Lourenço: Right now we produce covers, backpacks, accessories for boots, belts, fringes and even wool pipes. The designs are, like the boots, a little of each others’ work, and as for textile components, the creation is mainly done by our designers.

Green Boots' Backpacks: Aire and Caramulo

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR): Green Boots is an SME which is defined as 100% Portuguese when it comes to the level of production, labour, and materials. How important is the company in developing the region? What are the biggest challenges and / or difficulties / advantages that you feel, being an entirely Portuguese brand?

Pedro Lourenço: For us it is important to maintain value chain sustainability. We prefer to buy local, then regional, and then national, and only after exhausting these hypotheses, we go for the foreign market. In our view, it is important that companies place great care on this, because only then can we ensure sustainable growth in the economy. We do not want to say that we do more than we should or could do, it is just our philosophy of work, and we believe this to be correct. Sometimes this gives us some difficulties (especially when dealing with prices for raw material, Asian markets continue to offer more competitive prices), but we are pleased to think that we are helping in making the local and national economy grow. Of course this also brings advantages such as proximity to suppliers and the ease of communication with them, as well as some flexibility that otherwise would not have been possible.

Photos: Green Boots

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR): Where and in what countries can we buy Green Boots products?

Pedro Lourenço: In Portugal, we are in more than 40 stores nationwide. Our online store http://www.greenboots.pt/index.php/en/ is open to the whole world and has sold products in all four corners of the globe. In physical stores we are already in some countries such as the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, Lithuania, Russia, Switzerland and even Canada.

Left: Green Boots (Moscow in the Morning) Right: Moscow by Lígia Carvalho Abreu 

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR): What will the Green Boots Spring /Summer collection be like?

Pedro Lourenço: We will launch all the latest novelties soon, but let me leave you with a little teaser. This summer we have decided to go a little further than what we have done, and so we are going to launch some new footwear items, which respond to a growing demand in the market, as well as a clothing line which we think will praise the work we have done by creating a "Green Boots ecosystem " which is easily recognisable and, hopefully, very appealing!

 

Lígia Carvalho Abreu (Fashion Law-WFMFR):  Thank you Pedro for this interview.

Pedro Lourenço: Thank you.