The XPEPPER brand was born to support companies within the tourism, hospitality and catering sectors. Working in the universe of professional uniforms, this company goes beyond that concept and challenges fashion with unique and tailormade jackets. Looking good at work counts, and now it’s possible to dress up chefs and other professionals… tailor-made.
When we talk about cooking, our subconscious takes us to the most elaborate recipes, to the taste of food and to chefs with the gift of making other people smile through delicious dishes. But nowadays, when we talk about cooking, we can also talk about fashion. There is a new reality. Chefs and cooks can already set aside the typical white aprons and now have a display of unique jackets available. The brand that makes this possible is XPEPPER, and it’s in the market to make a difference.
But where was this revolutionary idea born? It was Alexandra, known and cherished by everyone as Xana, who decided to do something different. If we figure out the brand name, we will understand it. The letter “X” refers to the author Xana Pimenta and the English word “PEPPER” (Pimenta) is directly related to gastronomy and also to her last name. Formerly working as an English-German teacher, she admits that she was going through a phase when she felt the need to change, the education system had become reductive and sluggish for what she wanted to do. She needed to find a way to work in tune with her energetic personality. At that same time, an opportunity came up to work planning gastronomy-related events, and that’s when she decided to stop teaching altogether and set out on the adventure.
From a very early age, Xana had the sensitivity to give her opinion about clothes, colour combinations or what looked good with a certain outfit. Something that contributed to her current success. Some time later, she leaves her job as events planner and starts thinking about another niche within this field. Her friend and chef Miguel Laffan noticed her aesthetic view at an event and challenged her to develop a customised jackets business. “I never thought that idea would move so fast, when I returned from the event the chef didn’t even let me think about it, he called me to say he was going to participate in an event in Paris and needed to wear a customised jacket alluding to Portugal”, says Xana who can’t say no to challenges and fulfilled the request. In 15 days she created the brand, looked for suppliers, drafted design proposals for the chef to choose from, “and we made something elegant with the colours of Portugal, therefore it was a mission accomplished”, she highlights proudly. By word of mouth, other chefs started asking for customised garments and XPEPPER had a boom of orders.
“It must be a sober and elegant jacket within what we are asked”
It is in design that Xana and her husband, Pedro Antunes – who has joined her in this business – achieve the exclusiveness of the items. True jacket tailors, the partners carefully study each order: “First we need to know the space of the restaurant to understand the concept, colour wise, what will match, then the shape of the garment to see what is flattering for that person, higher or lower collars, and we try to meet the style of the person, some prefer for the jacket to close with clips, other with a zipper… I always want for the jacket to look elegant, neither too extravagant nor too basic”, Xana Pimenta explains.
They always try to get the best fabric for each situation. In Ibiza, for example, several customers ask for fresher jackets, taking into account the high temperatures. In addition, some customers idealise specific pictures introduced in the garment. “I remember a customer who asked us for a sushi image, he wanted a giant shark on the back, so we found a more affordable way to apply that comic to the fabric with some seams, making it look like it was embroidered”, she explains. No request is refused by XPEPPER and out of the box products are challenging.
Xana recalls a completely different request: a chef from Ibiza, who was born in Seville, bullfighting lover, had a passion for bullfighters’ jackets and asked them to try to produce a jacket that would convey that idea. A piece that required a lot of manual work and detail, “so we thought it would be an interesting challenge, it took some time to produce, it was a very detailed work, but in the end we looked at the spectacular effect of the garment and it was perfect”, she describes. The materials used in XPEPPER’s production are all “made in Portugal”. They look for resistant and durable materials, and in some cases for technical anti-bleach or anti-bacterial fabrics.
“Our satisfaction is to see that every piece is thought of from scratch”
Although the restaurants and hospitality sectors constitute their main market, producing customised uniforms for restaurants, hotels, bars, catering companies, XPEPPER goes even further.
There’s an emerging market, the health sector. Why not dress pharmacists, nurses or doctors? There are also customised jackets for that segment. “We separate the brand, we have the XPEPPER with the red chilli pepper symbol for the hospitality sector, and we now have the XHEALTH, with the green heart, dedicated to that area”, the author of the brand explains. But that’s not all. The range was enlarged to the bars market, and there they are almost like tailors, the customers choose the material they want, the colour, the pockets, and when they leave, they take with them a garment that will last for a long time and completely according to their preference. In this case we are talking about renowned brands such as Bacardi or Martini, for example. In Portugal the market is consolidated and most of the customers are chefs with Michelin stars, who worry growingly more about image. Ibiza / Formentera is another market where XPEPPER has had an astounding success. They have a very loyal customer in Miami and some in Canada and Europe, and in the future the Spanish market will have an even greater bet.
They also created in Braga, where they have the showroom and their facilities, a space they want to utilise: “we have a kitchen with a table for 14 people where one may organise theme dinners, bringing to the city some chefs who may cook some of their recipes and where those who visit us can get close to them and socialise through that gastronomic experience”, Xana Pimenta concludes.
Nowadays she has no regrets whatsoever of leaving education, despite admitting she misses her students, most of all of watching them grow. Growth gained new formats and that of XPEPPER promises to go beyond borders.