The Fanciest Bar (of Soap) in Portugal

The Claus Porto soap brand was churning out supermarket crap when an American expert decided to turn it around.

Those slimy white preservative cakes that languish on the edge of men’s showers give bar soap a bad name. There are classier options out there. Case in point: Claus Porto’s decoratively wrapped, awesome smelling offerings. In case you’re unfamiliar – most people still are – these soaps are the brainchild of Jon Bresler, founder of New York’s Luxury Articles & Fragrance Company. When a trip to Ach Brito, an ancient, family–owned soap factory in Fajozes, Portugal revealed that a once proud manufacturer of high-end soap was being reduced to making cheap bars of supermarket crap, Bresler took notice. He witnessed the vibrant wrappers once used to designate each of the famed fragrance relegated to scrap paper and couldn’t take any more. 

Bresler, who had no financial stake in the operation, convinced the family to go back to its swank roots, and whipped up five new scents, packaging each in one of ye olde patterned papers. Then he exported them to North America and the business got real. These days, that Portuguese factory is churning out almost twenty different soap variants, plus ancillary candles, body lotions, and bath salts. Unless you’re buying the stuff for a lady friend, in which case there are a wide variety of delightful florals, we suggest sticking to the most dude-ish options: Vetyver, Wild Moss, Brise Marine, and Lettuce. Honestly, the Lettuce is great. [Five-bar sample pack, $53;]