Monday, 14 February 2011
Trend-led, affordable fashion in Brazil
(Exterior of Farm shop in Rio) (M in Pinheiros, São Paulo) (Spring campaign shot, Farm) Following the comment left by an anonymous Born in Brazil fan last week, which asked me to write about more affordable fashion stores in Brazil as opposed to focusing on catwalk designers, I bring you this: a look at Farm and M. Both stores sell own-label Brazilian womenswear (sorry if you’re a man, Anonymous) and cater for 18-30 year olds (ish – I actually think they could stretch to 35…). The shops are part of a recent trend in Brazil to cater for the country’s growing middle classes. Traditionally, Brazil’s fashion retail offer has been characterised by two polar opposites: either very expensive or extremely cheap clothing. But the landscape is changing. M, for example, is a sort of Urban Outfitters-meets-Topshop, with jeans retailing from R$90 (£30) and T-shirts from R$30 (£10). Farm, meanwhile, is a true Rio brand, with pretty, brightly coloured dresses standing out amongst its collections. But what truly unites these two businesses is the way in which they are driving retail innovation in Brazil and internationally. M, which has stores in São Paulo, Campinas, Salvador and Brasília, is more than a fashion shop; it’s a lifestyle concept. At M’s store in the up-and-coming district of Pinheiros in São Paulo, there’s a cool, on-site hairdressing salon with those classic naked light bulbs that frame the mirrors, and a bar to encourage customers to hang around. Upstairs is the “library”, a mezzanine level that houses new and used books on fashion, art and photography. Decorated with prints from emerging Brazilian artists, sofas and poufs, all items in the reading area are for sale. Next door is M’s studio, where theatre and music productions take place. Farm’s retail proposition is also unique and the brand picked up an award at WGSN’s inaugural Global Fashion Awards last November in New York. All of Farm’s stores around the country (there are 35) have Radio Farm playing in their fitting rooms and online (I'm listening to it now), and customers can access Farm’s blog and look-book in-store via an iPad. Farm even holds special pet days… I spoke to Lauretta Roberts, awards director, about what makes Farm so special. “We’ve talked a lot about sensory and 360-degree experiences at WGSN, and this was a great example of it,” she says. “Farm stores feel like a true, unique experience. There’s an attention to detail to how they present their brand and how they serve their customers that is rare. I like the idea that inside this super-green building, they’re extremely hi-tech too.” (Farm’s Harmonia Store in São Paulo, for example, is an eco-friendly building with a roof that stores large amounts of water to help reduce the need for air-conditioning). “The Brazilian way of life is in fashion and people want to be like us,” says Farm co-founder Marcello Bastos. “But barriers such as culture and taxes make entering international markets difficult. Too many [Brazilian] brands do so without planning; we have carried out research in 10 cities across the world, including Barcelona and Madrid, where we plan to expand.” Have I missed any affordable fashion stores in Brazil? If you know of any, please let me know.