Claus Porto: A Story of Resilience & Beauty

Claus Porto: A Story of Resilience & Beauty

Renowned for their exquisite, handcrafted soaps, available in an array of magnificent fragrances and individually wrapped in art deco style paper, Claus Porto is an established luxury lifestyle brand, wafting around elegantly for 134 years and counting. 

The Portuguese heritage brand has a storied past; from humble beginnings, the company has had a turbulent history and throughout its timeline has been subject to two world wars, nationalisation and most recently, a global pandemic. Yet, thanks to the company’s resilience, passion and creative spirit, the brand has continued to persevere and succeed with their iconic soaps famously declared by Oprah as one of her favourite things. With core principles of authenticity, craftsmanship, high-quality standards, and an appreciation for the details the brand’s values have remained unchanged since the company’s creation and are evident in every product and design decision.

From a turbulent start to a crowning collection, the heritage of Claus Porto is as unique as the intricate details of the product collection, here is some of their story from 1887 to the present day.

Pictured: The Claus Porto Voga Soap in considered Art Deco design

Pictured: The Claus Porto Voga Soap in considered Art Deco design

A Turbulent Start

Originally named Claus & Schweder after its founders, Claus Porto was established in 1887 by two German businessmen and represented the first fragrance and soap factory in Portugal. Conceived during the industrial revolution, the original factory was located in the heart of Porto and made full use of the abundant connections of export, utilising those already established by the local Port wine industry. 

As the company began to grow, so too did the brands international recognition and in 1900 (only thirteen years after its creation) the company won a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition for its soaps and fragrances. Soon after in 1904, the brand’s success continued, winning gold at the universal exhibition in Saint Louis. 

Whilst initial successes demonstrated the brand’s potential and quality, not long after its founding marked the start of the first world war- the first trial in the company’s turbulent history. As the conflict continued and tensions rose, in 1916 the company’s German founders were forced to leave Portugal and the Portuguese government assumed control of the nationalized company. 

Almost ten years later, however, the brand and assets were reclaimed by the company’s original Portuguese partner, Achilles de Brito (the Ach. Brito Group). Presented with an irresistible opportunity for a fresh start, Achilles de Brito astutely opted to rechristen the brand, removing the distinctly German surname from the company title- and so, Claus Porto was born!

Pictured: Historical packaging from the company featuring the original Claus & Schweder title

Pictured: Historical packaging from the company featuring the original Claus & Schweder title

Musgo Real: A Crowning Collection

Launched in 1936, Musgo Real (meaning ‘Royal Moss’) was one of the very first grooming collections for men. Combining classic scents with formulas enriched with the finest ingredients, the collection quickly grew in popularity to become one of Claus Porto’s best-performing lines. 

Whilst the original products have evolved somewhat over the years as newer ingredients offer more effective and sustainable alternatives, the essence of the line has remained, with a concerted effort to be as true to the original possible. Prioritising quality and craftsmanship, it is the richness of Musgo Real’s formulas that are particularly striking. Formulated using ingredients such as lanolin, glycerine, shea butter and walnut oil, all products help ensure the skin’s hydration for a pleasant, yet close shave.

Complete with soaps, shaving cream and shaving soaps, after-shave, pre-shave oil and colognes the five exquisite fragrances of the line each bring their own unique personalities: from the eternally familiar Classic Scent to elegantly crisp Oakmoss, Peppery Spiced Citrus, optimistic Orange Amber and, new kid on the block, delectably sophisticated Black Edition.

Remaining a timeless icon, Musgo Real has been at home in Portuguese households for several generations. From Grandad to dad to son and even to the present day, the brand is noticing a growing trend in younger generations as they turn to the nostalgia of the familiar, rediscovering the classic scents that their fathers and grandfathers used.

Pictured: Vintage Classic Scent Musgo Real packaging

Pictured: Vintage Classic Scent Musgo Real packaging

The Devil’s in the Detail: Rebranding to Present Day

Now managed by the great-grandchildren of Achilles de Brito, it is the sense of family is that is an eternal constant in the company’s 134-year history.

Recently introduced to the luxury goods market in the USA, Canada and England, in 2016 the brand went through a rebranding process of its visual identity- incorporating contemporary twists whilst maintaining its vintage feel. Renowned for its intricate and eye-catching packaging, Claus Porto took inspiration from their extensive collection of hand-drawn artwork to create packaging of exquisite detail featuring colourful hand-made labels and design patterns, each with its own exceptional charm. 

And it is this sense of detail and design that is reflected throughout the company. Channelling over 100 years of experience many of the original processes remain unchanged, the infamous Claus Porto soaps a perfect example of the company’s respect for heritage craftsmanship. Milled a minimum of five times, there is always an element of human control maintained to ensure the highest possible quality. Finished with hand-wrapped packaging, every element of the soap’s design is intentional: from the beautiful array of colours that enhance your shower experience, to manually placed cotton cords and even the soap’s fragrances which have their own olfactory pyramids similar to that of a fragrant perfume. More than a soap, Claus Porto products become a decoration and fragrance diffuser for your bathroom. 

Featuring some of the most impactful packaging, Musgo Real’s award-winning redesign samples beautiful bold colours and clean sharp lines to maintain its minimal, yet striking, elegance. With no detail considered too small, in 2016 the brand’s original ornate crown emblem was updated to a king’s crown to celebrate the men’s grooming range. Hand-wrapped in a tactilely rough textured paper, the packaging evokes the feel of rough unshaven skin, transforming daily rituals into a sensory experience even before shaving. Inspired by Art Deco design, each of the cologne bottles of the range are handcrafted by Portuguese artisans. Opting not to feature atomisers, the colognes have a nostalgic vintage feel, their application another contact point to the brand’s heritage and celebration of the sensory experience of shaving. 

Pictured: Musgo Real’s award-winning redesign packaging

Pictured: Musgo Real’s award-winning redesign packaging