In the hustle and bustle of the Parisian summer in 2013, Inês Brito and Joana Gouveia, the two graphic designers who started Saako in 2009, were invited to showcase the brand at a leading fashion trade show in Europe known as Who’s Next held biannually at the Porte de Versaille in Paris.
Established in Europe in the early 90s, the trade show is now hailed as the benchmark for design innovation and attracts upwards of 45,000 visitors each year. The trade fair showcases over 2000 textile labels, presenting the new collections of ready-to-wear, accessories, and beauty and lifestyle brands to fashion industry professionals. Who’s Next was particularly meaningful to Inês and Joana, not only because of its international exposure for up and coming trendsetters, but more importantly, it gave them both an opportunity to connect directly with Saako’s customers.
Every trade show for Who’s Next has a specific theme, and this time it was Mexico, with an eye on warm colors and vibrant rhythms. The designers brought the scarflace to the event, as it was a perfect match with the theme. Made of only fabric strips, also called spaghetti fabric, the scarflace is both comfortable and washable. With a unique blend of colors, it features both the functionality of a scarf, as well as delivering the aesthetic design of a necklace – “it can be worn all day and be part of the outfit” like Inês said. Traditionally, Portuguese women only used spaghetti fabric to make rugs, and Saako broke this tradition by repurposing how the raw material could be used in new and creative ways.
As Saako’s signature product, the scarflace stole the show at the Mexican-themed event and garnered a lot of praise and attention, especially amongst new customers – many of whom are now long time lovers of the brand. As more and more consumers consider the environmental repercussions of their purchasing choices, Saako continues to lead the pack with its sustainable commitment in both production and craft making process.
In fact, all Saako products are individually handcrafted. The company was started in an effort to create a more sustainable and ethically responsible fashion and textile industry. With that in mind, Inês and Joana designed and produced all of the trade show elements on their own. They believe running a brand with integrity and being financially successful are not mutually exclusive ideas. You can have your cake and eat it too! Brands that are able to find balance between these two ideas will continue to shape and move the industry-wide sustainability conversation forward.