A brand of eco-vegan footwear that uses plastic collected from the Portuguese coast and sews it on sustainable materials — natural rubber and organic cotton, as well as fabric made from pineapple leaves. They have already assembled a group of 600 volunteers to collect plastic from our beaches — a ton of plastic, mind you — and, at their factory in Guimarães, they create the sneakers that have been in Wonder Room for three editions now. ZOURI arrived to prove that we can build a better world, and it couldn't make more sense to be in our room of wonders. We spoke with Adriana Mano to show you why.
ZOURI has been one of Wonder Room’s brands for the last three seasons of Lisboa Fashion Week. What makes you want to be there?
ModaLisboa is the most important event in the fashion scene in Portugal and for ZOURI it is always a privilege to be present, especially as we are a footwear brand.
In your perspective, what’s the importance of Wonder Room in the growth and promotion of Portuguese brands?
Wonder Room is the perfect window to showcase new talents and brands whose core is sustainability and ethical production. Being present creates the opportunity to publicize the continuous progress in the search for new materials and techniques that can change and diversify the direction of how Fashion is made in Portugal.
And how important was Wonder Room in ZOURI's own growth?
Undoubtedly, being at the Wonder Room brought visibility and notoriety to the brand.
Talking about Fashion is also talking about emotion. What does Wonder Room make you feel, and how is it different from other pop-up stores?
Being present in the selection of new creators for the Wonder Room is wonderful. The whole atmosphere exudes innovation, reinvention, the search for new materials and techniques and this is the definition of Fashion in our perspective. Making sustainability the new trend will be a crucial change for the times we are facing and it is a great pride to be able to contribute to this revolution.
Do you feel that the Wonder Room atmosphere is different from other pop-up stores?
We can never dissociate Wonder Room from ModaLisboa, so the atmosphere is completely different from other pop-up stores. The people we come across are looking for new trends and, in turn, to rediscover and innovate the way they present themselves to the world. We can combine sustainability, new materials and ethical production with this demand, and it is taking the brand to other audiences and bringing them closer to what our mission is.
One of Wonder Room’s pillars is the promotion of sustainable projects. How does ZOURI view sustainability, and how does it integrate it into the different stages of the process?
ZOURI is an Eco-Vegan footwear brand, focused on sustainability, ethical production and fair trade. As such, intense research was and continues to be done to select the best sustainable, natural and ethical materials. The entire process, from plastic collection, transformation and incorporation into the sole, design and production of ZOURI shoes, packaging and shipping was and is being studied to be more and more sustainable.
What’s the importance of producing in Portugal?
First of all, we are a Portuguese brand, so it makes perfect sense that our production is done 100% in Portugal. In addition to having one of the most qualified workers in the world in the footwear sector, one of our pillars is circular economy. Combined with this concept and producing in Portugal, we have also managed to reduce the ecological footprint.
Partnership is a big part of ZOURI. How important is it to find the right partners for the growth of a brand, and what was Zouri's process along the way?
A major step in the process, and since we reuse plastic waste from the ocean on our soles, was to establish the necessary protocols with partners such as local authorities, schools and NGOs to help us with beach pickups in the North of the country. In addition to that, surrounding ourselves with production partners who shared our principles and mission was absolutely crucial. We believe in transparency and we would not be loyal to the brand if everyone who is part of ZOURI did not believe and were not committed to the same objective. This will always be our path.
How would you describe the growth of the sustainable brands in Portugal?
We believe that the Portuguese consumer is increasingly aware of environmental issues and has progressively changed their consumption patterns in search of products that guarantee quality, and at the same time, ethical and sustainable production. In this way, it makes perfect sense for new brands to emerge and for existing ones to start rethinking their products and production processes to keep up with this growing and positive trend.
And what future would you like to see for this growing market?
Now, more than ever, we need to rethink the way we consume and produce. The faster this future becomes the present, the quicker we’ll feel the benefits of this fundamental change. In this sense, the State's support and incentive to sustainability could undoubtedly speed up the process.
How can ModaLisboa be part of that future?
ModaLisboa, as trendsetter, can play a leading role in this future, and has already started doing so with the creation of Wonder Room. It can boost it even more if it transports it to the catwalks, giving it even more visibility.
What do you find most inspiring and exciting in Portuguese Fashion today?
The recovery of the identity icons of Portuguese industrial culture and tradition, combined with new materials and production processes. It is truly inspiring to also see the industry wanting to join Fashion and both share the same goal on the path to sustainability.
ModaLisboa has always been a think tank for different projects, and wants to connect people from different backgrounds. In your opinion, what are currently the most creative projects and people in Portugal that we should all be following?
In our view, we indicate some of the projects we most admire and carefully follow: Vintage for a Cause, Vanessa Varragão, Toino Abel and Benedita Formosinho.
This interview with ZOURI is part of a series of conversations that discuss the impact of the last four seasons of ModaLisboa | Lisboa Fashion Week. Only by reflecting about our route can we know where we are today. Only by knowing where we are today can we build our tomorrow.