SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Breaking into the global marketplace is more difficult for designers in Brazil than those from more established markets. This is because we lack an overall development plan for the fashion sector and face several domestic issues, such as the country’s complex tax structure, inefficient infrastructure and high production costs. As a result, Brazilian brands are often less competitive than other more consolidated global luxury companies.
To address these issues, we have tried to employ creative solutions to turn our geography into a competitive advantage. This year we are declaring SPFW “seasonless”. Instead of naming collections spring/summer or autumn/winter, we are identifying them by number, with the next edition being called simply “SPFW season 41.”
For a long time, the fashion industry has become disconnected from the seasons. Nobody decides to purchase a new piece of clothing or accessory because it’s the summer or winter. People’s desire is provoked by novelty and they want to touch and see something new and surprising.
What we see on the runways today is more of a creative exercise and less of a collection designed for a certain climate or season. That is even more the case in Brazil where we do not have strict season definitions as most of the country is situated in a tropical environment.
On the whole, fashion has become a global affair where luxury goods can fulfil the needs of different customers all over the world, regardless of hemispheres and seasons. Technology has bridged the gap previously presented by geography in the sense that there are no more frontiers, giving consumers access to a much broader marketplace without leaving their homelands.
São Paulo Fashion Week (SPFW) has just celebrated two decades as a fashion platform. Since the beginning, we adopted a fashion week model that we felt would nurture and benefit young talented designers as well as larger brands, by allowing them to focus their effort on creativity, and in turn, we would project their work throughout the nation and worldwide.
In the past few years, we have witnessed the huge impact social media has on fashion shows and how it can be a powerful tool to stimulate consumer desire and retail sales. Indeed, it is this potential for audience engagement that has seen retailers and brands rushing to cater to a new customer demanding a real-time experience.
Discussions about how to best channel this trend has been a leading topic in Brazil and worldwide. That is why SPFW has also chosen to adjust its schedule to adopt a “see now, buy now” model. We believe moving closer to retail rather than wholesale seasons will be an unavoidable trend for fashion weeks worldwide.
One-time events such as fashion shows and fashion weeks are no longer the exclusive territory of editors and buyers. These events now set the stage for a direct dialogue between brands and customers, in which brands post desirable images of their collections and the audience responds with likes, shares, comments and instant e-commerce orders.
Moving SPFW closer to retail allows brands to best benefit from the buzz and media visibility generated by runway shows and amplified through social networks. We believe that reducing the gap between buzz and desire will have a positive impact on the market and result in increased sales.
This also increases the designers’ responsibility in offering creative and quality products that will appeal to a much wider and demanding consumer worldwide. That is a designer’s main challenge in a competitive marketplace today, not geography.
Paulo Borges is the founder and artistic director of São Paulo Fashion Week.
The views expressed in Op-Ed pieces are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Business of Fashion.
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