As in England, where young designers are benefiting from a renewed manufacturing industry, Brazil sees production as one of its key strengths. Factories in the southern Santa Catarina region have historically produced millions of units for brands such as Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Club Monaco and Abercrombie & Fitch, but changes in competitive production costs and raw material from abroad has forced the local industry to look into its other assets. Rather than focusing on price or quantity, it has instead directed its attention to innovation, sustainability and a renewed focus on production for the Brazilian market—namely through its emerging designers.
The recent Santa Catarina Moda Contemporanea (SCMC) show illustrated this new strategy, bringing together the country’s explosive local fashion economy with its struggling production industry. SCMC’s runway showcase paired students from eleven fashion schools with local manufacturers to create unique, mostly conceptual collections. The events organizers explained that its primary aim is “to integrate the academic community and future professionals with the fashion market by means of direct contact with companies.”
One such company, Hering continues to develop its textiles, but has been restructured in the last two years to concentrate on its three core brands (Hering, Dzarm and Puc) by rolling out retail stores and increasing wholesale distribution. For SCMC, however, the company got back to its roots thanks to a partnership with students Adriana Colonetti da R. Danielli, Lidiane Lucas and Vanio dos Res Tomé from Senai Criciúma. The young designers seized on the house’s rugged fabrics to create a collection of heavily fatigued denim trousers and patchwork sweatshirts that were in sync with the brand’s dominance on casualwear in the country.
Now in its fifth edition, SCMC recognizes that much of this effort is still in its infancy, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from coming to watch the catwalk at the sprawling Green Valley Club. Though many of the collections were well produced, some fell into a faux-French chic trap (as in the case of Dalila Têxtil e Uniasselvi, Assevim) or veered too much toward English monarchy (as did Kyle and Univali). Our favorite collection was “Fabulosa,” which linked Soutex with Andressa Bardini, Augusto Glüher and Camila Gadotti of Univille. The designers used the on-trend look of early ’90s New York club kids, channeling neon snowflake prints, metallic zippers and bodysuits with flocking, which they claim were inspired by the movie Party Monster.
Brazil recognizes that it’ll have to promote its internal developments and links with worldwide institutions to find its place in the greater industry. To meet these goals, FashionRio, which is to be held at the end of May, has reinvented itself as a showcase for new designers and sustainable manufacturing. Meanwhile, ABIT, the cultural body that oversees fashion initiatives, has also announced that an early stage effort is underway to open a textiles engineering school in conjunction with the Bunka Institute in Japan. And with the International Textile Trade Fair show being held in São Paolo for the first time in October, it looks like Brazil won’t get left behind in the new fashion economy.