For years, whenever I met Portuguese journalists they would invariably ask me:
" And when are you going to open a shop in Lisbon?"
"One day..." was my stock reply having no notion when that might be. Finally, we have taken the plunge and opened a shop on what must be in the most beautiful boulevard in Lisbon, the tree lined Avenida da Liberdade that seems more like an intimate Champs Élysées.
Arriving in Lisbon for the first time, I was immediately captivated by this historic and romantic atmospheric city and wondered why I had never ventured there before. I was booked into a brand spanking new boutique hotel, Valverde, directly opposite our shop. Unlike most boutique hotels that tend to the kitsch, it was modern without being self consciously so. I have no doubt that this little gem will be welcoming guests for generations to come.
Strolling over to our shop the next morning for a round of interviews I noticed that stalls were opening up selling bric a brac and antiques. No sooner than I was through with my interviews than I was back out on the street browsing amongst the stalls for that elusive treasure. I rummaged through a tray of cufflinks and came across a vintage tie pin probably made in the 1960s in the shape an umbrella and bowler hat. It immediately reminded me of the Hackett logo and at five euro's it was a steal and I thought a good omen. A party was planned for that evening and I duly arrived by Aston Martin. Despite the torrential rain the shop was mobbed. My PR gleefully informed me that another brand had organised a party for the same evening which they postponed when they realised everyone was attending the Hackett party, my apologies to that brand.
I had very little time to explore the city but what was apparent to me was that that Lisbon appeared to be paved with tiles. There was tiling everywhere I looked, the promenade was intricately tiled, the pavements made up of broken pieces and the cafe fronts decorated too. If the writer Samuel Johnson had been Japanese he may have been tempted to say of Lisbon, "When a man is tiled of Lisbon he is tiled of life" To foster good relationships with the locals we had commissioned our own Portuguese made tiles and had them laid on our shop floor. It could be said that I spent a night on the tiles.