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In Conversation with José Maria Reffoios of JAK

JAK was founded in 2014 in Lisbon by Isabel and José Maria. Part of JAK's vision is to create products with modern design, that are made of high-quality materials and age beautifully over time. They create sneakers and accessories for an urban lifestyle and everyday use. Production is in the northern region of Portugal, famous for its multi-generation family-owned factories. They source locally and responsibly, and follow a strict ethical code, making sure their products’ raw materials have less environmental impact, and that the people that work with them are fairly and ethically treated. To ensure this, they hand-pick all suppliers, and visit their facilities on a regular basis.

JAK are perfectionists, testing and crafting products to the ultimate detail. They like simplicity and believe that a minimalistic and monochromatic design highlights the high-quality materials they source and the craftsmanship of their Made in Portugal shoes. They want to go beyond fashion and create an authentic lifestyle experience. Due to its combination of flexibility and durability over time, JAK mostly use full grain leather, which is the highest quality and most valued part of the hide. Full grain leathers carry natural markings, that add character and age beautifully over time, just like people.

In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interviewed José Maria Reffoios, Co-Founder of minimalistic timeless sneaker brand JAK about his background and how the unisex DTC sneaker brand was first launched. Peter Brooker and José talked about working with family-owned factories, brick and mortar stores, sustainability, minimalistic design, materials research process, social media, and future plans.

“I would say direct-to-consumer is much more rewarding, both for the business selling and for the customers buying. The design of our footwear is very minimalist. I would say 50% of our sales come from the most minimalistic models that we offer. But when you cut into the shoe and look at its complexity such as the materials used and no visible stitching in between, you’ll see it is incredibly difficult to manufacture. So, in this apparent simplicity, there's a lot going on in terms of construction. In 90% of our designs, we use full leather midsoles, and we use a layer of cork before we glue and stitch the soles. We’ve been doing this for eight years, and we've tried many different techniques.”

This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 198 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with José Maria Reffoios, Co-Founder of minimalistic timeless sneaker band jakshoes.com. You can listen to the full version on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast player.

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