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Carlos Santos history

Carlos Santos is a Portuguese brand that manufactures handmade, luxurious Goodyear welted shoes for men at its factory, Zarco-Fábrica de Calçado, in São João da Madeira. Founded in 2010 by Mr. Carlos Santos, the brand currently exports about 90% of its footwear outside of Portugal to countries in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.

Company timeline

Zarco-Fábrica de Calçado, a factory based in São João da Madeira, Portugal, has been manufacturing Goodyear welted men’s shoes since 1942. Until the fall of the Estado Novo government in 1975, the company only produced shoes for the local market in Portugal and exported footwear to England under a customer brand.

After the fall of the regime, Zarco began expanding its shoe exports to more European countries and beyond. Under the leadership of their manager at the time, Mr. Carlo Santos, the quality and design of their shoes improved significantly. Santos attended fashion shows where he bought shoes from the top shoemakers, bringing them back to the factory for dismantling to understand their construction techniques.

In 2000, Mr. Carlos Santos acquired the entire Zarco company, becoming its sole owner. In 2010, he began manufacturing footwear under his own brand – Carlos Santos.

Today, Carlos Santos employs over 100 workers, and its shoes are sold worldwide in countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Belgium, the United States, and the Middle East.


Carlos Alberto Rodrigues dos Santos was just 14 years old when he began working at the offices of the Zarco factory. However, it wasn’t the desk job that he found most appealing, but rather the shoe manufacturing process. Young Carlos would frequently escape to the factory floor, where he would interact with the artisans and observe the shoe-making process.

He was passionate about shoes, hardworking, and ambitious, viewing fashion as essential rather than superfluous. He quickly ascended the career ladder, moving from offices to sales, and then from sales to management. By the 70s and 80s, he was already traveling the world in search of innovation, creativity, and shoe production techniques.

Mr. Santos would attend fashion shows, purchase the shoes, and instead of wearing them, he would dismantle them to understand their manufacturing process. He believed that Portuguese artisans could learn these techniques and produce shoes of the same quality as the best shoe brands.

Mr. Santos began purchasing shares of the Zarco company until he acquired full ownership. Consequently, the young man who embarked on his footwear journey at the age of 14, became the sole proprietor of the Zarco factory. In 2010, he launched his own shoe brand – Carlos Santos.

Carlos Santos is a shining example of hard work and passion. From his start at Zarco to owning the company and launching his own brand, Mr. Carlos Santos’ dedication has led to international success. With a commitment to quality and tradition, Carlos Santos continues to make luxurious, handmade shoes beloved by customers around the world.