Quality issues trip up Brazil fashion

Brazil Monday kicked off its Sao Paulo Fashion Week - the most important catwalk parades in South America - amid concerns voiced by some designers that garment quality was lagging behind their world-class ambitions.

Cheaper and better-made Chinese textiles, below-par training for fashion students, insufficient numbers of skilled employees, high taxes and a competitive deluge of wannabe designers were all weighing down the sector, they said.

On its sultry surface, however, the event - known as SPFW - is still parading forth with all the confidence Brazil exudes as the most glamorous and prosperous of emerging economies.

Several international top models are taking part, though unusually this time Brazil's most famous export, Gisele Bundchen, the world's highest-paid model, was not.

Instead, lenses are to be focused on a male celebrity on the catwalk: Ashton Kutcher, the 33-year-old American former-model-turned-actor who will play clothes-horse Wednesday before taking up the starring role in the US sit-com "Two and a Half Men", replacing the erratic but memorable Charlie Sheen.

Kutcher, and of course Brazil's leggy beauties in swimwear, guarantee an international media splash for SPFW.

But as the event clocks up its 15th year in existence, there is a feeling that it continues to trail too far behind the better-known shows of Paris, Milan, London and New York - and that Brazil is not being taken seriously as a global fashion player.

"Textile engineering has to progress in Brazil. To be more competitive, we need better material and technology in this country," one of the designers taking part, Reinaldo Lourenco, told the Folha de Sao Paulo daily.

Lorenzo Merlino, a stylist who has ceased participating in SPFW, said: "We're not even close to China, which is selling products with sophisticated fabrics at laughable prices. We're not going to have factories like that any time soon."

Alexandre Herchcovitch, whose latest women's collection is to be shown Tuesday, bemoaned to the newspaper that "everybody wants to be a stylist, and there's not enough room for so many people."

He also stressed a common refrain that "we have poor qualifications in sewing and design."

The Brazilian designers were responding to questions about the biggest challenges facing their national industry, in reaction to this edition of SPFW adopting the theme "Futures."

For all the criticism, though, the organizers of SPFW retained great optimism about fashion in Brazil - if only because there seems to be a limitless appetite for luxury as Latin America's biggest economy gains in sophistication and wealth.

Certainly, many well-heeled consumers are turning to elite European and US labels which they now find affordable, even with 100-percent taxes slapped on them to protect home-grown brands.

But Brazil's burgeoning middle-class is helping Brazilian many fashion houses enjoy the consumer boom in the country.

"Twenty or thirty years ago when we talked about fashion, it was without a doubt craziness to think we would be here today," said the main organizer of SPFW, Paulo Borges. "We always knew it would take a long time."

His event has now been around almost as long as the period it took Brazil to climb to the level it is now: an investment-grade darling of investors everywhere.

That has spurred optimism, and even a general consolidation of the fashion sector as corporate investors see potential.

However some clouds are forming on Brazil's economic horizon which could yet unleash a cold shower on the catwalk.

Growth, which last year topped 7.5 percent, is expected to slow to 4.0 percent or less this year, while inflation is soaring to a worrying 6.55 percent. Retail sales in April fell for the time in a year as consumers cut back.

If those trends continue, the Brazilian fashion industry could be among the first to take a tumble.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Cover Supervisor

    £75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam