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Global Briefing | Brazil's Changing Fashion Calendar

The scene at Alexandre Herchcovitch's Spring/Summer 2012 show at São Paulo Fashion Week | Source: Nowfashion
  • Jorge Grimberg

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Effective this month, Luminosidade, the company that organizes São Paulo Fashion Week and Fashion Rio — previously held, back-to-back, in January and May/June of each year — is preponing its events, staging Autumn/Winter in October-November and Spring/Summer in March-April, not long after the close of the four main fashion weeks.

But this means that while many international buyers and journalists have just finished an exhausting month-long marathon of fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris, taking in hundreds of Spring/Summer 2013 collections, São Paulo Fashion Week is already set to kick off the Autumn/Winter 2013 season on October 29th.

Is this wise?

Brazil's fashion industry has evolved dramatically since the birth of São Paulo Fashion Week, sixteen years ago. "The first decade was for visibility — showing the world that Brazil has fashion creativity. Now, it's a moment to restructure," Graça Cabral, chief of institutional relations and strategic partnerships at Luminosidade, told BoF.

Indeed, the changes to the timing of São Paulo Fashion Week and Fashion Rio reflect a structural need to adjust the country’s fashion cycle. “For a long time, we have been discussing the need to extend the time between product development and distribution,” she explained. “Unlike international fashion calendars, the Brazilian calendar only had two months between the shows and retail launch. The move is towards a positive change for the whole industry in Brazil, from the textile industry to buyers.”

The move may have unintended consequences for international attendence, however.

"For international press, our calendar adapts best [sic], as Brazil will close the global season," said Monica Mendes, founder of the country's leading lifestyle public relations firm and international PR for both events. But while the world's four main fashion weeks have just presented Spring/Summer 2013 collections, Brazil will now be the first to present an entirely new season: Autumn/Winter 2013. "In terms of seasons, maybe we were more aligned with the dates we had before," Cabral admitted.

“We expect that the world will start looking to Brazil as the first to launch a new season,” said Evilásio Miranda Costa, chief executive of the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Association (ABIT). “But the new dates will make it harder to invite international buyers,” he acknowledged. “While we show winter in October/November, buyers will still be confirming their summer orders made a few weeks prior in New York, London, Milan and Paris.”

Oskar Metsavaht, founder of Osklen, sees the changes to Brazil's fashion calendar as an opportunity to assert the country's creative leadership. "The interesting thing is that, launching first, our collections are still in sync with global trends. We are not copying or waiting to see what is launched abroad as a reference for our collections. Our [new] calendar will make us more authorial and audacious," he said.

Importantly, Brazil's fashion weeks are increasingly targeting emerging markets like China and Russia, in addition to established fashion markets like the US and Europe. "Our work is to position, to introduce," said Cabral. "For a long time, our designers bet mostly on the USA market and it's still a focus, and the biggest global market, but we should make an effort for the emerging markets to consume our design and understand our brands," she continued. "We have brands that have strong appeal in Arabic cultures due to the exuberance of the pieces and materials, such as Lino Villaventura, or in the Asian market, such as Alexandre Herchcovitch."

It’s Ms Cabral's hope that greater globalisation and the rise of direct-to-consumer sales via the web will make up for any drop in the attendence of American and European buyers and press at Brazil’s fashion weeks. “We used to think that a global communications plan for our fashion weeks would need to be aligned with [traditional] distribution, but this concept is changing because e-commerce is growing so fast,” said Cabral. Indeed, for the first time last season, pre-commerce site Moda Operandi sold looks straight from Brazil’s runways. “For a very long time, we thought this wouldn’t work, but today it’s really changing the business.”

Jorge Grimberg is an associate contributor at The Business of Fashion.

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