So, you’ve probably already heard of Rio Carnival? Perhaps walked along one of the scenic white sandy beaches? Or even tasted the national delight that is a caipirinha? And surely, when almost everything in Brazil is related to the scorching hot summer, you could be forgiven for thinking fashion in Brazil is all about the bikini? (Well, more or less).
Contrary to popular belief, Brazil is the home to many trendy beachwear labels but as one of the world’s largest countries, Brazil has a lot more to offer on the global fashion front.
1. São Paulo Fashion Week
After celebrating its 20th consecutive year; last October saw approximately 100,000 people visit São Paulo for the annual São Paulo Fashion Week.
SPFW was introduced first back in 1995 when businessman Paulo Borges began organizing small scale fashion shows for the few fashion brands based in the city. Today, the event is famous for hosting high-end runway shows from a plethora of Brazilian brands and designers, as well as staging some perhaps ‘unconventional’ performances. Indeed the event may not be as prominent as its European and North American counterparts but, during designer Ronaldo Fraga’s AW16 show, a female and male model unzipped their robes to appear semi-nude in front of the crowd, leaving very little to the imagination. The show then ended with every runway model lying in bed together, as if to reenact a ‘go to bed’ scene.
2. Designers to watch
Before 2008, Brazilian designers were somewhat restricted to the South American ‘fashion bubble’. However, when the USA and countries in Europe hit financial meltdown, it was seen as the right moment for emerging countries like Brazil, to become more noticeable on the global fashion platform.
Since then, a whole host of talented Brazilian designers have started to gain worldwide recognition. Creative, young designer Pedro Lourenço made his ready-to-wear debut at Paris Fashion Week in 2010, showcasing to the world his collection of clean, architectural pieces. At present, Lourenço produces two international collections per year as well as two capsule collections just for the Brazilian market.
Lucas Nascimento, one of Brazil’s newest faces, bases himself in London after graduating from the London College of Fashion and uses the city as well as the streets of Brazil to inspire his collections. In 2011, the designer was awarded a NEWGEN sponsorship by the British Fashion Council.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind the most established names within Brazilian fashion: Alexandre Herchcovitch, Gloria Coelho and Tufi Duek, to name but a few. The designers who successfully broke onto the fashion scene long before Brazil established its first fashion academies.
3. A taste of international flavour
Recent collaborations have brought international fashion closer than ever to Brazilian audiences and at the same time, have put Brazil’s fashionable finger right on the map.
The Versace for Riachuelo campaign saw the Brazilian label team up with the Italian brand for an exclusive capsule collection. Injecting a little Italian glamour into the label, the hotly anticipated and complete collection was showcased at São Paulo Fashion Week 2014, with an ad campaign later fronted by Brazilian-native and supermodel Adriana Lima.
Karl Lagerfeld has also dipped his Euro-toes into the Brazilian fashion pool after designing four standout collections for local footwear brand Melissa. Karl put his signature spin on the brand’s famous jelly shoes, and used then model Cara Delevingne as the face of the successful collaboration.
4. International brands with a national approach
In recent years, the localised market has become more accepting and open towards international brands. Overseas retailers have invested hard on local expertise to ensure they deliver the best possible product and shopping experience for their South American customers.
Dutch chain C&A has expanded to open retail stores within Brazil, and in doing so, has set out to cater its clothes based on the tastes and requirements of the women living within the varied regions of the country. A challenge brands breaking into the Brazilian market may face is seasonality. Due to Brazil’s position within the southern hemisphere; when stores launch their annual winter collections in US and Europe, it is in fact summer time in Brazil. Favoured brands such as Topshop feel the need to adapt specialised prints, colors and shapes from their winter collection, to be sold as summer apparel in their Brazilian stores.
5. Brazil’s Current Top Models
Gisele Bundchen may have walked her last ever catwalk, but that doesn’t mean her workload has stopped elsewhere. According to Forbes 2015, the Brazilian supermodel ranks top as one of the world’s highest paid models, making an eye-watering $44 million this year alone. To celebrate her 20-year strong modelling career, Bundchen bared all in a $700 coffee-table book which saw record sales even before the official release date.
Of course, the Victoria’s Secret catwalk has been home to other Brazilian models for quite some time including Adriana Lima, the longest-running Angel in VS’s history, and Alessandra Ambrosio. Adriana alone banked $9 million this year thanks to ongoing contracts with Maybelline and Vogue eyewear deals, whilst Alessandra made a cool $5 million in 2015, working not just as a model, but an actress. Making her debut in beloved nationwide soap opera ‘Verdades Secretas’.
6. Fashion Soaps
Speaking of soap operas… Brazilian have been loving their soaps for well over 50 years and reach on average 200 million people every week. With such a big media influence, it’s no surprise that Brazilian actresses are (sometimes) regarded higher than models when it comes to advertising and clothing campaigns. In 2012, one of Brazil’s best-loved actresses was spotted sporting a Michael Kors bag – the following week, lines of Kors-hungry Brazilian women formed in front of the brand’s boutiques throughout Brazil and even some American cities.
7. You’re speaking my language(s)
Blogger Camila Coelho’s fan-base is predominantly Brazilian and stands at a mega 3.5 million people on Instagram alone. Her blogging career took off after hosting small fashion and makeup tutorials seen from the US, in her native Portuguese via Youtube. After watching her public audience grow on a tremendous scale, Camila switched tongues from Portuguese to English to ensure bigger follower numbers and the rest is blogging history.
Other bilingual Brazilian bloggers to watch out for are Helena Bordon, famous for her posts on high fashion coming in from Europe and the US. And (not forgetting) Flávia Desgranges, posting OOTDs and style inspiration to thousands of followers daily.
8.Dafiti inside of the Global Fashion Group
Part of the Rocket Internet Global Fashion Group; Dafiti are the largest fashion eCommerce platform in Latin America, as well as Stylight’s partner. Dedicating itself to fashion in emerging markets, Dafiti was created after German-native Malte Huffmann and Brazilian Philipp Povel decided to develop a fashion platform in Brazil, something that, even just 5 years ago, was still not very common within the Brazilian consumer market. The eCommerce platform has seen rapid growth and is now readily available in Argentina, Chile, Colômbia and México.
9. Brazilian online spending
Fashion alone is the biggest eCommerce category in Brazil and in just the first quarter of 2015, corresponded to 15% of the country’s total sales volume.
As Brazilians now have more options than ever to buy products from international brands, stores are using a new and innovative way to sell more and leave out the heavy taxes on imported goods. This installment payment option means you can finance something that little bit expensive, and choose the payment plan the best fits into your lifestyle. Either by paying the total amount of the product in smaller shares or all at once. This type of payment is by far the most common in the country with 53% of all online transactions in Brazil carried out under these terms. Shopping in Brazil never got so good!
10. Handmade products are fashion(able)
Last but not least and perhaps the most surprisingly… Brazil has long had a strong history of knitwear production, especially within the Northeast coastal area. Various social projects within the region give empowerment to the women who find themselves in the craft. The nice thing? Their work is always incorporated to Brazilian fashion. Throughout a lot of shows during São Paulo Fashion Week, models presented precious handcrafted Brazilian embroidery with a fresh, modern appeal. Indeed it’s always ideal to see how fashion can embrace local culture, show it to the world and at the same time improve the livelihood of so many people.
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|By Thalita Milan|