· Fashion&Accessories · · T. Cristina Freire · P. Rights Reserved

Luís Onofre

Solidarity arrived in the form of a mask

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After paying a visit to Oliveira de Azeméis hospital, in the north of Portugal, to accompany his youngest son, the shoe and accessories designer Luís Onofre became aware of the great lack of protective masks against Covid-19 and felt an urgent need to produce them. 
At the end of March, his factory was not producing due to the pandemic, and given that the authorities were struggling with the lack of protective material for the population, while at the same time trying to decide if their use would be effective or not, Luís Onofre explains: «I felt that it was a contribution that was within my power, the need was huge, given the available stocks and this pandemic reached us globally very quickly». And that was how his shoe factory, producing shoes found around the world, began working in solidarity, producing masks. 
For two weeks, before going into lay-off, the workers produced five thousand non-surgical masks, which were delivered to various local institutions in exchange for smiles and thanks. The designer and president of the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry stresses that his motivation, with this gesture, is part of the Portuguese DNA and «it has been common to see several companies and national brands also making a contribution, in various ways and in all sectors, not just in the footwear industry».

«I felt it was a contribution [protective masks] that was within my power»

The entrepreneur sees this unusual moment, around the world, as a great challenge. With physical stores closed, during confinement period, and a great lack of clarity about the future and possible consumer trends, he now sees cost containment as a priority, while studying alternatives to the business model, with a greater investment in the digital channel and more products aimed at online sales. 
With regard to support he would like to see the government provide, Luís Onofre stresses: «Under the circumstances, the aid proposed so far is quite positive». However, «the most important thing is what will happen in the coming months and how we will get the economy back on track», adding «a strong plan to support investment and internationalisation will be needed, which will have to be European, because this is a global problem». And, in order to respond to financial losses, a plan is being drawn up that will allow us to develop a closer customer relationship, to assess current market needs and thus define strategies for the next collection. But above all, to reduce costs as much as possible so as not to take unnecessary risks at a time marked by uncertainty. 
The Luis Onofre shoe and accessories brand appeared in 1999 and quickly made it to foreign markets, where it is now sold in dozens of countries, from France or Mongolia, to Russia and Dubai and many others. In Italy, it received the Prestigious Collection Award, awarded in Milan at the most prestigious footwear fair in the world. 
Cristina Freire
T. Cristina Freire
P. Rights Reserved
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