LOCAL GUIDE

THROUGH THE DESIGNER'S EYES: Sesimbra

PART OF WHAT MAKES THE NOT JUST A LABEL COMMUNITY SO UNIQUE ARE THE COUNTLESS DESIGNERS THAT HAIL FROM ALL AROUND THE GLOBE. UNDERSTANDING THE IMMEDIATE WORLD OUR DESIGNERS LIVE AND CREATE IN CAN GIVE VALUABLE INSIGHT INTO A PROCESS WE ALL TOIL WITH AND PROVIDE A FRESH LOOK AT INTERESTING PLACES THROUGH THE COMMON LANGUAGE OF FASHION. WE SPOKE WITH SESIMBRA-BASED NJAL DESIGNERS Raquel and Sofia FROM SIZ ABOUT THE CITY THEY CALL HOME.

Where do you live? How would you describe the creative scene in your city?

We live in Sesimbra, a small town near Lisbon, in Portugal. Because it isn't a big city, Sesimbra has this unique vibe of comfort and peace. Maybe that's why many artists choose to live here or come on holidays. The creative scene here is not as notorious as in bigger places, but it's growing every day. 

How long have you lived there?

Almost our whole life! We have lived here for 24 years, since we were 2 years old.

Is there a large design community in your city? How do you interact with it?

Although the design community here is small, there are a lot of amazing artists, from designers and makeup artists to illustrators, musicians and tattoo artist! We love to work together and to support each other, creating a fantastic synergy throughout the community.

How does the city inspire you?

Sesimbra has this beautiful mix of mountains and sea and we are truly inspired by that feeling of nature and Mediterranean mood. Although we get inspiration from all over the world, this place we call home has an important role in our mindset and therefore in our creations.

What are the must-sees and must-dos for visitors?

You should go to the beach, whether it's the ones in the town or the ones in the mountains side! The most perfect thing that you could do is a walk through Arrábida Park and a lot of other tracks in the mountains of Sesimbra! Here there are a lot of activities such as paragliding or kayaking along the coastline of caves and secluded beaches, climbing and coastering and a lot more! You can’t miss visiting the castle, with its wonderful panoramic views of Sesimbra and Cape Espichel and its unique church, lighthouse and dinosaur footprints! They’re amazing!

What makes your city special?

The “beach & mountains” feel and the secret beaches (shhh... don’t tell anyone).

What do you love most about your city?

What we love the most about our city is the peaceful and calm feeling, the slow down vibe. There is no noise from traffic or cars like in big cities or capitals, and we can go to see the ocean whenever we want.

What cuisines are distinct to your city?

Sesimbra is all about the sea, so the most special cuisine here is the fish and the shellfish! And of course, Farinha Torrada, a traditional type of cake frok Sesimbra (deliiiiicious...!).

What's a typical day like for you?

Well, thankfully there is no typical day for us, to be honest (that’s one of the reasons why we love so much what we do) but we’ll try to describe what a day in our life looks like: First of all, when we get up, we have our breakfast – it’s the most important meal of the day and we never, ever, skip it! And we check the news in our email inbox and social media while we drink our coffee (please try not to judge us too hard on this, we know we shouldn’t, but we hate to lose time ;D) Then, we usually start with the "office work": besides replying to some emails, we deal with the online store, marketing, production tasks, etc. After lunch (a 100% veggie one) we go back to the studio to do the “more practical tasks” that can vary depending on the phase of a collection. We either sketch, work on clothes patterns, experiment with some new techniques, or simply manufacture some pieces or visit our seamstress’s studios to check their work and chat a little bit. In summer we try to work as much as possible in the mornings so we can spend a couple of hours in the end of the day at the beach.

Where is the best place to stay? Eat, drink, and decompress?

Best place to stay are the hotels near the beach, like SANA Hotel and Sesimbra Hotel & Spa. Or you can choose a more rural experience, on the country side like Hotel dos Zimbros. To eat the typical fresh fish, you must go to Tasca do Isaías and Bar do Peixe. To have a cool drink at the end of the day go to the bars near the beach, such as Onda Slevagem or Fun Friends n’ Fandango Bar. Also, if you’re vegetarian/vegan you should try Leaves Café and Aloha, the best you can get!

What's the biggest misconception people have about your city?

Hmm... Maybe people thinking that Sesimbra is only about Carnaval and fish. It isn’t!

How does the culture in your city impact your designs?

Sesimbra is a small village but it’s very inspirational and there are a lot of initiatives to boost the culture here. We have concerts and cinema nights, as well as art exhibitions and small markets. All of this makes us even more inspired to draw and create and we think that has some impact in our designs.

 

Do you manufacture your clothes in your city? If no, why not?

Yes, we create the collections in our atelier here in Sesimbra and we also have help from local seamstresses.

What is your city missing in terms of design and creativity? What does it have that other cities do not?

What’s missing the most here is the comprehension and care about sustainable and slow fashion. On the other hand, Sesimbra has this super nice summery feel almost all year that you can’t find in many other places.

How does the fashion scene function within your local culture?

Here the fashion scene is very easy-going and a relaxed style, since we are close to a lot of beaches and nature.

How has your city changed in the past few years? How have these changes impacted your designs?

Our city has been growing over the years. It encouraged us to go forward with our project and try to help it grow even more.

Looking at your business and the changing landscape, will it be sustainable to stay in your city for the long term?

Although we aim to keep producing locally, we know we will need to expand our production line, but for sure always made in Portugal. We also intend to have our own physical store and explore other markets; that will probably force us to work from another place.

 

If you left your city tomorrow, where would you go? Would uprooting reshape the way you create and design?

We would love to go to a more “sustainability-concerned” and bigger city. We don’t think it would change much in our main style, but we would have new and different inputs that could influence our designs.

Do you think inspiration is tied to the physicality of a place or is it something greater? How about in your city specifically?

We think that it’s more than a physical place, no doubt. We get inspired by a lot of places that we have not visited yet and abstract concepts, so it must be something greater. However, living in Sesimbra is by itself a big inspiration; being able to work in a beautiful environment and being two steps away from extraordinary views, it’s also something very important.

Photo by @teresamineiro


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