By  on November 23, 2005

A strong euro means European buyers will outnumber Americans at Brazilian trade events.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian trade show organizers expect their fairs to continue to attract a larger percentage of European than American buyers in 2006, due to Europe's more diverse markets and the euro's continued strength against the dollar.

And to keep for-export products price competitive globally, Brazilian trade fair exhibitors will keep dollar-based for-export prices stable, even though the dollar was devalued 21.5 percent against the Brazilian currency, the real, in 2005, a move that will substantially reduce profit margins for exhibitors.

Organizers of the twice-yearly São Paulo Fashion Week, Latin America's biggest fashion showcase, are inviting 50 designers to the upcoming edition, scheduled for Jan. 17-23 at the 258,000-square-foot Bienal Cultural Center in São Paulo's Ibirapuera Park. Some 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the winter 2006 collections, compared with 90,000 visitors who were at the January 2005 SPFW. A June 20-26 edition of SPFW will feature summer 2007 collections and include a slightly larger number of designers, most of them bikini stylists.

"We'll continue to attract more European than U.S. buyers at the next SPFW because of the euro's continued purchasing power against the dollar and because they are open more to innovative fashion than American ones," said Graça Cabral, an SPFW organizer. "European buyers also sell to more diverse and segmented markets than American ones, and can buy smaller volumes."

Among the bigger names scheduled for the January 2006 SPFW are Alexandre Herchcovitch, Reinaldo Lourenço, Tereza Santos, Lorenzo Merlino, Rosa Chá and Neon.

Carol Lim, co-owner of the New York boutique Opening Ceremony, has been to the last five editions of SPFW and said she plans to return in January. Lim added that the weakened exchange won't alter her buying volume because "SPFW stylists have kept their dollar-based prices stable and, thus, competitive with other local and foreign designers we carry."

Sandra Moleirinho of Jewelsign Ltd., a London fashion importer who represents Rosa Chá in England and sells several other Brazilian designers to European and Asian boutiques, is also coming back to SPFW in January. "While Brazilian fashion isn't cheap, it's so creative and high quality that my wholesale buyers continue to clamor for it," she said.For the June edition of SPFW, organizers plan to set up a separate business salon featuring showrooms for SPFW and non-SPFW designers of clothing, jewelry, purses, shoes and accessories not far from the Bienal. The showrooms will be open exclusively for foreign buyers.

Attendance at Fashion Rio, Latin America's second biggest fashion showcase, is expected to remain steady at 70,000 visitors for the Jan. 9-14 edition. The number of exhibiting designers is also expected to remain unchanged at around 40. The second 2006 edition of Fashion Rio, featuring summer 2007 collections, will occur June 1-6, and will include a slightly larger number of designers, mostly from the swimwear sector. Fashion Rio occupies a 269,000-square-foot area within and around the Museum of Modern Art in Flamengo Park.

While SPFW showcases established upmarket brands, Fashion Rio showcases down-market, underdog labels, with a strong emphasis on casualwear. Fashion Rio usually attracts far more foreign buyers than SPFW — 80, compared with the 30 at SPFW — but most are small boutiques and distributors. The larger boutique chains and internationally known stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Henri Bendel, typically head to SPFW. Like SPFW, Fashion Rio typically attracts more European than American buyers, due to market tastes and the current exchange rates.

Among the top designers at Fashion Rio will be Maria Bonita, Colcce, TNG, Patricia Viera and Walter Rodrigues.

Brazil's other big apparel trade fair this year is the annual Fenit, which will take place June 19-22 in a 658,000-square-foot pavilion in São Paulo's Anhembi Park. Fenit features low-cost casualwear, beachwear, athletic wear, underwear, socks and accessories.

Previously, Fenit also included textile exhibitors, but has decided to show only clothing as a way to better focus the event. Textile manufacturers will now only show their wares at the annual Fenatec textile fair, next scheduled for March 7-9, also at the Anhembi. 

"We have decided that differentiating product by showing only clothing at Fenit and showing only textiles at Fenatec better targets buyers and, thus, attracts more local and foreign buyers to each fair," said Roberta Dias, director of Fenit and Fenatec.Organizers expect the 2006 Fenit fair to attract 28,000 visitors, among them 1,100 foreign buyers, and the Fenatec fair to attract 14,000 visitors, including 600 foreign buyers.

Dias said that around 60 percent of the foreign buyers at both shows are expected to be from South America, 20 percent from Europe, 15 percent from North America and 5 percent from Asia and Africa, numbers similar to the recent past.

Like Fenit and Fenatec, the Couromoda, Latin America's biggest shoe fair, scheduled for Jan. 16-19, will also be staged at the Anhembi pavilion, where 1,300 exhibitors will take up the entire 658,000 square feet of space and an additional 240 rooms at an adjacent Holiday Inn, to showcase high-end shoes. Exhibitors will also set up stands at a new 53,000-square-foot tent adjacent to the pavilion to display leather garments and accessories.

Couromoda president Francisco Santos expects a 5 percent increase in the overall number of Couromoda visitors in 2006, up to 63,000, in part because of the leather garment tent. He also expects 4,500 foreign attendees, a 10 percent increase over 2005, from more than 75 countries.

According to Santos, the expected increase in foreign attendance is based on two factors: a promotional campaign, begun in August, to drum up more U.S. and European business, and the increased number of Western European shoemakers — as opposed to buyers — who come to the Couromoda in search of partners to manufacture shoes in Brazil.

"Western European shoemakers know that Brazil, with cheap, skilled labor and abundant leather, is the only option outside China that will supply the quality needs of their clients," said Santos.

Textile and clothing industry officials said that the increase in Chinese textiles and low-cost clothing coming into Brazil following the Jan. 1 lifting of global quotas on textiles and apparel may, in the future, affect these sectors and their fairs, including Fenit and Fenatec.

Fernando Pimentel, the head of the Association of Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industries, which helps bring foreign buyers to Fenit, Fenatec and Fashion Rio, said, "The increased amount of Chinese imports into Brazil has not yet but could effect all of our fairs. But the more differentiated [from Chinese products] the products at our fairs, the more protected those products will be from Chinese imports."

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