My recent travels took me to Lisbon, along the coast of Portugal. Lately I’ve heard murmurings of Lisbon’s metamorphosis into cool territory; friends in fashion even going so far as to hail the Portuguese capital as the new Berlin, a cool city get-away with the extra benefit of the beach being just a short train ride away. Being a devout lover of Berlin I absolutely had to see for myself, and Lisbon I have not been disappointed. Rather, I found myself pleasantly drawn into the seemingly thriving artisanal community.
A highlight of the trip for me was the LX Factory Market. Set a little way off the usual tourist track in Alcântara, to my delight we found a feverish hub of creatives hawking their wares to eager hipsters and locals alike. Is this the Mediterranean Williamsburg…? The LX Factory is home to a diverse array of local homebred talent, and being of curious mind, I couldn’t help but take a peak behind the scenes. Originally a threads and fabrics factory, 150 years old, the LX has since been repurposed into co-working spaces, diverse restaurants and offices housing all manners of creatives from African textile designers to pole dancing workshops for the more daring of nature.
On Sundays, the market is formed, and the stage is set for all manner of fashions for the home, and the fashionista. Locally made clothing, accessories and items you never knew you needed are available. Fabulous cloth book jacket anyone? A fruitbowl made of classic vinyl? Cork is a material favoured by the Portuguese and having seen an abundance of it in the local Lisbon stores, it was no surprise to see many bags, accessories and jewellery made from it here. The resourcefulness of local artisans to repurpose materials, locations and styles shows their talent, and perhaps the benefit of collaborative co-working. The fabulous second-hand bookstore Ler Devagar is a fantastic example of this. Once the site of the factory’s printing house, some of the original machinery once used to produce fabrics is still in situ, now used to power automated mobiles and mechanical marvels.
The area is prime people watching territory; park yourself in one of the countless bars, restaurants and cafes and watch the city’s chic and cheerful pass you by. Muito Obrigada Lisbon, you have been a surprise and a delight!