Inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places – you never quite know when the lightbulb is going to illuminate. For João Valente, a young footwear entrepreneur, that “aha!” moment came as he stared out to sea from a small Portuguese fishing village named Aguda, just south of Porto.

“On a hot summer’s day, 31ºC of temperature, on the beach, looking around, I fixed my eyes on an old fisherman boat. It was an old boat, very simple, yet full of character and charm," he remembers.

“That boat on the beach gave me the inspiration for my first collection, launched when I turned 31. I named my company 31ºC and my first sneakers were part of The Beach Collection.”

Valente’s shoes aren’t nautical themed or particularly ocean-ready, but instead draw influence from the quiet elegance of a fishing boat – a central part to everyday existence in this part of Portugal, always ready for the task at hand, while holding a commanding presence in repose.

“The fishing boats on the beach, have a powerful presence. They impose themselves. The ones still working or the ones placed on the sand waiting for the next day’s fishing; their different colours and the contrast of the colours with the sand was beautiful to me and inspired 2019’s collection called The Everyday Collection."

The “aha!” moment came as João Valente stared out to sea from a small Portuguese fishing village

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All of 31ºC shoes are handcrafted in a Portuguese artisanal factory with more than 70 years shoemaking experience just 15km from the shores of Aguda. Here, they use premium quality leather on top of a natural latex sole made of 100% natural virgin hevea milk. The virgin milk of the Hevea Brasiliensis rubber tree is refined to produce a unique sole, full of tiny air bubbles offering outstanding levels of comfort, while the innersole is made of specially treated cow leather which supports better breathability.

After all, for the most part isn't that what we're looking for from our footwear? Something we can rely on to stand up to the job every day and equally look the part.

The proof is in the pudding: the ‘White on Natural’ low-top sneakers exude contemporary elegance, while being lightweight and comfortable for everyday wear. Paired with stone-coloured shorts and a white linen shirt, we can just about picture ourselves on the beach in Aguda now…

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