THE POWER OF TOUCH
by Rui Matos
translated verbatim from the original article published online by Vogue Portugal on the 17th May 2021
The power of touch is unequaled, we might even say irreplaceable. But after so many months of social distancing, do we still pay due attention to this power? Or better, have we ever been aware of it?
A moisturizing serum here, retinol there. A day cream, a night cream. Sunscreen, always. Exfoliation once or twice a week and we still wink at facial masks that promise to bring an extra glow to our complexion. We are all slightly obsessed with skincare rituals. But do we pay enough attention to the skin that inhabits our body from the neck down? Have we ever stopped to think that the clothes we choose to wear which - surprise, surprise - are in contact with our skin 24/7 - don't always have the right properties? Touch is a powerful thing, and it's time we become aware of what is in constant contact with the largest organ in our body - which surprise, surprise - is our skin.
Much more than a protective barrier, the skin is also a conduit that allows penetration of external substances that need to be absorbed. In the same way that harmful substance and toxic chemicals are absorbed, the skin also has the ability to let in active ingredients with rejuvenating properties. And once you think about it, you will never look at clothes the same way you did before.
THE KICKOFF FOR BEAUTYWEAR
Inês Neves, Inês Melo, Henrique Soutinho and Leonardo Marques form the fantastic four that aims to change the way we look at clothes. Together they created Gräffenberg, the first skin-nurturing fashion brand in the market. In other words, clothes that contain active ingredients to take care of our bodies. "There was a time that we were locked indoors and it seems like it created a blur the line between what we wear indoors and outdoors. We used to have very limited choices, so the brand is not only trying to position itself as the first skin-nurturing fashion brand in the world. We have to look more at our skin and into what we put in contact with it. Everything around the brand is about touch," Leonardo Marques explains in a Zoom call with Gräffenberg team.
And indeed, everything at Gräffenberg is about touch. Starting with the name itself, which is nothing more than a tribute to Ernst Gräfenberg, who in 1950 first discovered the G-spot. In the article "The function of the urethra in female orgasm," published in the International Journal of Sexology, he wrote: "There are innumerable exogenous points distributed throughout the body through which sexual satisfaction can be achieved." He went further, "There are so many points that, we might even say, there is no part of a woman's body that does not react sexually, the partner has only to discover those erogenous zones." And that's exactly why Gräffenberg's epitome is, "What touches you has so much power.”
TECHNOLOGY AND TIMELESS DESIGN
Revolutionizing the way we perceive clothes. A somewhat ambitious premise, but science, and now Gräffenberg, prove to us that it is possible. To materialize these pieces took months of investigation and a lot of research. "We needed certain percentages to achieve the claims, so there were many attempts. We had a hard time coming up with a material that would combine and support the G-cotton, so we had to do lots of testing with hemp to see if it worked. A lot of the process was research in the labs and then we were able to come up with this final result. From now on, our time to market will be much easier because we've already realized that hemp works well, now it's time to test it with other materials," says Inês Neves. "Without a doubt, the technological part was the one that gave us the most headaches in the beginning."
Everything starts with cotton and hemp. Particles of copper oxide, naturally present in our skin, are injected into the cotton fiber creating the G-cotton, with permanent skincare properties and also antibacterial powers. This cotton is intertwined with hemp, a fiber produced with less water, less chemicals and less waste. To elevate the antioxidant complex, the fabric receives microcapsules of Coenzyme Q10, known to strengthen the skin against aging-related issues.
Gräffenberg garments promote healthier skin with an extra glow (the dual power of the antioxidant complex, rich in copper and CoQ10, helps regulate collagen levels), supports collagen production and increases firmness (Copper stimulates the production of fibroblasts, cells responsible for collagen production), reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and even deodorizes our skin, due to the copper that has powerful properties that kill bacteria, fungi, viruses and microbes. Once catalyzed inside the cotton fiber, copper is able to kill bacteria behind our body odor, making Gräffenberg’s clothes not only anti-odor but also able to deodorize our skin.
The first collection, Ernst, is launching with five timeless pieces. The oversized silhouettes and the neutral tones give these pieces a very contemporary allure. About the creative process, Henrique Soutinho explains that: "It was all done by us, four pairs of hands. We worked with a small seamstress in Ílhavo at the beginning." The fabric is unique and produced with 55% hemp, 23% organic cotton and 22% G-cotton, in the end the whole fabric receives microcapsules of Coenzyme Q10, which allows the properties to be absorbed as soon as this fabric comes in contact with our skin. The maintenance of these pieces is almost identical to those we have in our closet and we say "almost identical" because the number of washes can be reduced due to the deodorization of the fabric itself and even after 50 industrial washes the antibacterial properties remain completely intact.
From Portugal to the world, with great pride. With the exception of the hemp and cotton, everything was produced in Camões land. "It's important to look for everything from where you are to reduce transportation and any kind of cost you might have. Decrease the footprint," stresses Inês Melo. "Portugal is exquisite in terms of textiles expertise and it would be foolish of the brand not to take advantage of this know-how that already exists and is so great. And because there is this pride in being Portuguese, that also has to be praised. And the result is this: the whole team we work with, since the beginning have always been Portuguese people. And this is transmitted in what the brand is."
This fantastic four has their blood boiling for a future where fashion merges with skincare. They say they came to revolutionize the way we perceive clothes and after realizing that our skin is a real sponge, we'll think twice, or even three times, about what we want to wear.