Olá from Portugal: How many people does it take to make a pair of shoes?

Have you caught our updates from Portugal on social media? The VIBAe team—Kalle and Minna from Finland, Ludo and Tammy from California, alongside Hannu, our tech guru, Anna, our customer service manager, and Tara, our copywriting wizard—spent an amazing week in Porto, working together and crafting VIBAe shoe magic (still under wraps!)

We´re all back now in our respective countries, buzzing with excitement for all the new ventures ahead, and our stomachs are still reminiscing about the incredible feasts we enjoyed... Seriously, does any other country know how to fill a table like Portugal? From the natas to the alheira, the ovos rotos to the francesinha, not to mention the fabulous coffee and pastries—Portugal's culinary delights made the windy and rainy days seem insignificant.


We have several small factories in Portugal and we wanted to touch base with them all. The main factory is a family run factory on the outskirts of Porto. We met Ismael, the factory owner, who has dedicated 30 years of his life to the craft since joining the factory at the tender age of 17. He was beaming with pride as he introduced us to his son Denis, who was hard at work on the computer, pioneering the next generation of shoemaking!

Ismael´s father, uncle, wife, mother-in-law and son all work at the factory as well as over 70 other artisans. As Finns and Americans, it was fun to watch the whole workforce walking out at 12 on the dot for a two hour lunch and siesta. They work from 8-12am and then 2-5pm. Sounds perfect!

All VIBAe shoes are made by hand, and you can see videos of the process on our main website page and on our social media. While we have started incorporating new technologies, such as laser cutting the vegetable-tanned leather into the correct size pieces for the seamstresses, the essence of the work remains in the meticulous handcrafting. Quality control is a constant throughout all stages, ensuring each shoe meets our high standards.


All the different factory owners are so proud of the work of they do, and a strong commitment to sustainability and eco-conscious practices permeated every aspect of their operations. Our shoes are VEGETABLE TANNED AND CHROMIUM FREE. We we´re reminded yet again, how important this is for our environment.

It takes ONE DAY to manufacture “normal” chromium leather used in most of the leather shoes. "Chromium leather" refers to leather that has been tanned using chromium salts, specifically chromium sulfate. Chrome-tanned leather is prized for its softness, durability, and resistance to water and heat, yet it faces criticism due to chromium pollution, which can adversely affect ecosystems, endangering plants and animals, and proving difficult to rectify once it seeps into soil and water systems.

It takes EIGHT DAYS to manufacture chromium free leather, because the tanning agents need time to penetrate and stabilize the hide, ensuring the leather achieves the desired durability and quality without the use of harmful chemicals. The tanning agents are 100% vegetable, derived from natural sources such as oak bark, chestnut, mimosa, quebracho, and tara pods.


Creativity is such an inspiring life force and it shows up on all the different aspects of shoe design and manufacturing.
Important decisions need to be made in the offices above the factories. Which thickness leather to use and in what shade? Do we need an extra lining for comfort? Should the buckle be silver or gold? Hmm, what model is Tammy looking at...? We´ll let you know soon!

We have some amazing new designs coming your way! Ludo, our shoe designer was sketching away on a piece of paper, while our agent was on the phone, making sure we had the fabrics necessary. The Modelação, ie the Patent maker listened carefully and made notes.

The process continues from the offices to the factory floor, where the artisans meticulously cut, sew, stitch, mold, shape, glue, trim, inspect, assemble, emboss, finish and package each pair of shoes with precision and care.

Although our usual focus is on showcasing the final products, being part of the entire process from start to finish was yet again an incredible experience. This journey served as a powerful testament to the passion and craftsmanship that define our brand, reminding us once again why our products are so cherished and unique.

To answer the question in the headline, it TAKES A VILLAGE (called Porto😊) to make a pair of shoes! 

We´ll share more videos and pics of our trip on our social media, be sure to follow!


Cuide dos seus pés, take care of your feet!