FORGET Milan and Paris, Portugal’s Porto is where it is at when it comes to fashion.
While the rest of the world is coming to discover the country most recently made famous for its UEFA Euro 2016 win, sister-in-laws Alda Ninasivinche and Samantha Monteiro have been immersed in the country’s style for years.
The duo, who opened their designer bag and shoe store Elle et Lui (Hers and His in French) on St Quentin Avenue in Claremont six months ago, said they were excited to share one of the fashion industry’s best-kept secrets – Portuguese leather goods– with Perth shoppers.
“Sammy and I are passionate about design and fashion; this is one of the reasons why we decided to bring some of Portugal’s renowned designers to Perth,” Ninasivinche said.
“The idea to open a store focusing on Portuguese shoes and accessories was a joint decision.
“Not many people are aware of the reputation that most Portuguese products have and Portuguese shoes in particular are the world’s best kept secret.
“They are number one in shoe manufacturing technology and hence some of the bigger high- end fashion houses are now producing their collections in Portugal, including brands like Prada, Moschino and Bally just to name a few, so for us to be able to carry some of these elite designer labels is a privilege.”
Born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, but with ancestors from Portugal, Greece and England, Monteiro said they were proud to showcase a little bit of their heritage while introducing something new and fresh to the Australian fashion market.
“Although we are new to the industry in Australia, this has been a big part of our family for many years,” Monteiro said.
“Alda’s father has owned and run a shoe factory overseas, manufacturing handcrafted shoes, all led by a seasoned Portuguese shoemaker.”
“With our backgrounds in design, it has been a goal of ours to open our own business in the shoe trade.
“We have translated our passion and understanding of design into fashion.”
With their designer shoes planted firmly on the ground, Ninasivinche said quality over quantity was what was most important when looking for designers to stock.
This includes visits to Portugal to meet designers and handpick the very best.
“One of the labels we carry has been around since 1943 and most of our designers have worked in the industry all their lives,” Ninasivinche said.
“We do have the privilege of working closely with each designer and often meet with them on our buying trips to Portugal.
“What people don’t know is Portugal is renowned for its meticulous hand crafted goods and Porto is the hub of many renowned Portuguese trades, such as gold smithing, shoe makers, wine makers and fine linen crafters.”
Designers including Egidio Alves, Luis Onofre, Paulo Brandao, Carlos Santos, Armando Silva, Sir Wolf and Gino-B Luxury Sneakers can currently be found in-store.