Many (in fact most) people have little or no idea where and how the clothes that they wear were made, and by whom. We believe that these things are important and that the fashion industry should be more transparent. We know exactly where and how our swim shorts are made, and we know the people who make them, and we want you to know too because we are proud of our production process.

Having covered the processes behind how we design our shorts and how the fabric is printed, in this article we celebrate the small factory in Portugal where for the last seven years our shorts have been cut, sewn, and brought to life.

Portuguese flags hanging from windows and balconies in the city of Porto

“We originally wanted to make our shorts in the UK and tested the waters by getting some samples made, but we couldn't find the right quality or price. In fact, both were way out. Through an old friend we were put in contact with an agent in Portugal, and after that first sunny introductory email we’ve never looked back.” Riz Smith

Rolls of fabric waiting to be turned into swim shorts and other clothing at the factory in Portugal where Riz swim shorts are made

After being digitally printed in Macclesfield, UK, rolls of our recycled polyester fabric are sent to the workshop that makes our shorts, 40km north of the city of Porto in the north of Portugal. It’s a fairly non-descript looking square-fronted building, and if it wasn't for some retro signage across the top of the building you could mistake the place for an office. This is where the magic happens.

The factory only employs about fifteen machinists full time, with one pattern cutter and most importantly Marta, the floor manager who conducts the symphony - they are the real Tailors of Sunshine.

Management team at the factory in Portugal where Riz Boardshorts swim shorts are manufactured

“Although I only visit the factory once each year, just after samples have been made and before production starts, it has always been invaluable to sit with them and discuss every inch of the shorts, drilling down into what most people would think invisible or unimportant. Here we tinker, tweak, and refine. Each season I think the shorts gets that little bit better, despite going into the process thinking that they were already as good as they could possibly be.” Riz Smith

Rolls of thread on a shelf in a garment factory where Riz swim shorts are manufactured

Due to the complexity and high level of detail in our designs, production is not sub-contracted to another factory, which oftens happens in the fashion industry. Here, our ‘hard work’ shorts get all of the attention and craftsmanship from these skilled machinists in-house, as our product deserves.

View of the factory floor in the workshop where Riz swim shorts are made

Working exclusively with the same small team in this workshop in Portugal over the last seven years, all of us learning from each other, has allowed our shorts to develop a character through the way in which they are designed, developed and finished. The personalities of all the people along the line are stitched into the very fabric of the shorts, giving them their soul. It is this of which we are most proud.

Pattern cutter at the cutting table in the factory in Portugal where Riz boardshorts' men's swim shorts are made

When we are asked why we manufacture our shorts in Portugal, the answer for us is simple: It’s close, the quality is great, and the cost is reasonable. The people who we work with there are lovely, and there is flexibility within the process that suits us as a small independent brand. There’s something a bit deeper and more long-term about our relationship than just stitching clothes.

We do still need to tie a beach visit and surf in with a trip to the factory, though. It’s in Portugal, after all!

The riverside city of Porto in Portugal, photographed on 35mm analogue film by Mat Arney