When it comes to Brazilian fashion, womenswear—especially beachwear—gets most of the global spotlight. But this gender bias might not predominate the national industry for much longer. From magazines to online spaces, runway turnout to prolific exports, the Brazilian menswear market is steadily emerging as a solid movement for growth.
The editorial scene most obviously mirrors these signs of expansion. GQ recently launched a Brazilian edition of its glossy publication to compete with a small but refreshing group of national magazines such as Alfa, Maxim and Status. Online portals, meanwhile, include destinations like AreaH and ClubAlfa (similar to askmem.com), which are beginning to develop content and businesses for the male audience. And during recent fashion weeks, major womenswear magazine and website editors were seen on the first roll of menswear shows as well.
Concurrent with all this editorial activity, sales numbers point to the growing market’s upward movement. According to the latest Euromonitor data on the beauty industry, Brazil is ranked as the second biggest cosmetic market for men. And additional investigation by Apex, a Brazilian agency devoted to the promotion of exports and investments, indicates that the menswear industry has shown the highest evolution compared to all other local industries and currently has a significant presence in exports to the US and Europe.
From the perspective of the catwalk itself, there’s also been an apparent renovation cycle in process. Although Osklen and Alexandre Herchcovitch still carry a solid position showing their menswear in São Paulo and now in Rio as well—where Herchcovitch debuted his more popular eponymous brand devoted to men and women—there are new menswear brands hitting the runways. “Designers are not so influenced by European trends, as happens with womenswear,” remarks Ricardo Oliveros, a journalist who specializes in menswear. As a result, Brazilian menswear has had the opportunity to be “recognized as something fresh and innovative.”
Maxime Perelmuter’s British Colony and João Pimenta both push boundaries (and taboos) for Brazilian men. Rony Meisler’s Reserva sticks to a more commercial path and has seen steep commercial growth with 21 stores opening throughout the country’s major cities over the last three years. Meisler has also encircled the menswear market with two additional sibling brands: Mini-Reserva, which sells versions of Reserva’s casual clothes for boys, and Balasarae, which offers mature suits and shirts with a conservatively edgy feel. On the mass market segment, Pedro Lourenço (the prodigy boy son of Reinaldo Lourenço and Gloria Coelho) just launched a menswear collection for Riachuelo, a major fast fashion brand. Meanwhile, Top Shop will not only offer fad driven pieces to women, but will also introduce Top Men to compete in this market next season.
Although Brazilian menswear is clearly gaining momentum, there is still a long way for it to go. That the Brazilian fashion industry still lacks a fashion week separated by gender, as happens in major fashion capitals, is evidence of this embryonic state. But perhaps this new wave of segmented content and the arrival of fresh menswear brands will push the industry to become something more than a mere after thought.