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New Generation: meet António Silva

Apr 2, 2021 Portugal
New Generation: meet António Silva
António Silva has trained to be a doctor, but management has always been a passion, which is why he attended an executive course in this area. He is the founder of the footwear brand Cantaloupe

How did this project emerge?
This project was born out of a strong desire to raise the long-term know-how of the “mother” company to a new level, a family textile print, by transferring this knowledge to a fashion product marketed under its own brand. The initial idea was based only on espadrilles, models with jute soles, since I recognized a need in the market: the existence of espadrilles with elegant and exclusive design and impeccable comfort, in a model that is, traditionally, uncomfortable and monochromatic. As I'm a doctor, with a mentality orientated for quality, that translated in the desire to design a premium quality product, which is rooted in the genesis of the brand.

Was the footwear sector a natural choice?
Yes. The most natural initial options would be a clothing or footwear product. In order to avoid possible “friction” with the clothing customers of the current stamping business, due to the geographic proximity to the footwear industry, and because, in the past, some prints made for a footwear brand, under subcontracting, have proved to be a success, we have chosen to launch ourselves, initially, in footwear. The fact that the quality of Portuguese footwear is increasingly appreciated and recognized worldwide was also a factor of enthusiasm.

What were the biggest challenges?
At this moment, and since the brand launched, undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic. The brand had planned to launch it in February 2020, but it only launched two months later, in April. At the beginning we were unable to contact retailers, as they were closed. The receptivity to new brands was, of course, reduced or null in most cases. The need and concern, on the part of retailers, to dispose stocks of previously purchased products was notorious. On the other hand, the most respected brands in the market felt forced to reinforce their online positioning and investment in digital marketing, thus increasing even more the difficulty of a new brand, such as Cantaloupe, to stand out. Fortunately, we had people who believed in us and in the project, to which we are deeply grateful. In the future, the strong competition within the sector, and the high price of Portuguese labour (our product is produced in Portugal) will always be obstacles to get around, as we focus on a constant offer of high quality and differentiating products.

How does Cantaloupe distinguish itself in the market?
For the perfect conciliation between design and exclusive prints, high comfort and careful selection of premium materials of high quality. We are a positive brand that enables self-expression through footwear.

What are the plans for the future of the brand?

The short-term objectives are to consolidate the product within the footwear sector and win the trust and satisfaction of our customers. It is for them that we commit ourselves, passionately, to our project. International expansion is an innate will, but it is admittedly difficult at this stage, either because of the period we live in or because of the strong investment it requires. We see the Southern European and US markets as the main markets to be conquered. In the long run, Cantaloupe does not close the door on the possibility of expanding the product range, making Cantaloupe a lifestyle brand, instead of just footwear.

What advice would you give to a young person starting out in the industry?
Be passionate about your project, have a predisposition to constantly learn, go beyond expectations, be resilient and believe.

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