The best flannel in the world is made in Portugal, and the team at the aptly named Portuguese Flannel really can’t be beaten. They’ve combined incredible traditional fabrics with master craftsmanship and modern design to build a brand known for impeccable quality and timeless style. Although flannel is not the only fabric they use, it is of course a specialty of theirs.
Despite being a relatively new brand, Portuguese Flannel’s roots go back to the 1930s. Brothers António and Manuel Magalhães were raised in the textile industry and take pride in maintaining the history of Portugal and their family’s roots through the clothing they produce.
The history of flannel shirts
Beyond Paul Bunyon, flannel has established itself as both a functional and stylish part of men’s attire. Although flannel is often associated with plaid patterns, it is actually a type of fabric that is characterized by its soft, napped texture, regardless of the print. It’s usually made of brushed cotton or wool, though other fibres are often used today as well.
The true origins of the flannel shirt aren’t known, but the fabric has been traced back to the 17th century. During the Industrial Revolution in Wales, it was introduced as a soft, warm alternative to the standard wool garments.
Flannel became synonymous with the American workforce in the early 20th century, seen in lumberyards, rail yards, and in other blue-collar worksites. It eventually worked its way into the world of fashion in the grunge scene and progressed to become the style staple it is today.
Portuguese Flannel’s Roots
Northern Portugal has a long history of textile production, dating back to the 1700s. Today, they have one of the strongest textile industries in Europe with many companies still maintaining traditional ways of producing fabric.
António and Manuel’s textile roots begin generations ago. In 1935, João Magalhães, the son of a factory worker in Portugal and Antonio and Manuel’s great grandfather, opened his own textile factory. Over time his children and grandchildren would inherit the business. Manuel and António's father maintained ownership of the factory until he passed away in 1989, and then his brothers took over.
At that point, Manuel and António were no longer part of the factory, but they couldn’t escape the feeling that working with textiles was something they were meant to do. They established Portuguese Flannel in 2012, and because they maintain a family connection to the factory, they have access to an archive of exclusive fabrics that goes back to 1930, which is nearly unheard of for modern brands.
Today they draw on their archives and pull inspiration from the landscape and people of Portugal, making Portuguese Flannel’s clothing a true testament to their great grandfather’s legacy.
Quality and Sustainability
Manuel and António are just as committed to maintaining an ethical, sustainable business as they are to honouring Portugal’s roots. Since the beginning, they cared more about quality than quantity, which is why you will see a limited selection from them each season.
They hire expert craftspeople who are trained in traditional methods of production, maintaining a sense of dignity and pride in their work. They continually work to reduce their water consumption, and they use a plastic-free packaging process to cut down on waste.
They use organic and recyclable fabrics for everything they produce. Because of Portugal’s proximity to the sea, they have access to incredibly high quality, long-staple cotton. This results in a flannel that is consistently softer and more durable than other flannels on the market, and they are more resistant to pilling.
Beyond manufacturing techniques, the true sustainability of their products lies in the fact that they will last you years. The timeless designs, excellent fit, and quality craftsmanship will allow you to wear these over and over, keeping them out of the landfill.