RIO DE JANEIRO — São Paulo Fashion Week, slated for June 30 to July 5, is expected to strengthen the event’s growing reputation as the biggest and most influential fashion stage in Latin America.

That reputation is increasing along with the number of mostly local designers showing their wares at the biannual show. At this SPFW, 47 designers will unveil their summer 2004 collections, up from 40 designers last year and 22 when the show began seven years ago.

SPFW organizers are trying to attract foreign buyers and foreign press to the event to build interest abroad in Brazil’s burgeoning market, trends and brands.

“Bringing foreign buyers and foreign press to the SPFW is part of our continued attempt to give more international visibility to Brazilian labels that either do or don’t export, and to give visibility to the majority of Brazilian brands that don’t take part in other international fashion weeks,” said Graça Cabral, one of the SPFW’s organizers.

The overall Brazilian clothing market has sales of $16 billion a year, according to Abravest, the Brazilian clothing manufacturers’ association.

Press from the U.S., Japan, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain are expected to attend.

Top local designers expected to take part in the show include Alexandre Herchcovitch, Fause Haten, Lino Villaventura, Reinaldo Lourenco and Forum, the top line of designer Tufi Duek.

Other ready-to-wear labels like Zoomp, Gloria Coelho, Ellus, Triton, Iodice, Patachou, Carlota Joakina, Ronaldo Fraga, Vide Bula and Argentina’s Trosman also will be at SPFW.

Also on hand will be top Brazilian beachwear makers like Rosa Chá, Agua de Côco, Movimento and Cia. Maritima is expected to create a splash when Gisele Bündchen hits the catwalk to kick off the show.

Foreign retailers expected to attend include Selfridges; Opening Ceremony, a boutique in New York’s SoHo, and Kokon To Zai, which has shops in London and Paris.

Foreign interest in Brazilian fashion has been growing since the SPFW began, in part because of the exposure that some top Brazilian designers have already gotten abroad.

Chá and Carlos Miele (whose label is M. Officer and who won’t be at this SPFW) will both be at this year’s 7th on Sixth fashion week in Manhattan. Miele, who operates 93 stores in Brazil, opened his first U.S. flagship on June 6 on West 14th Street in New York.Herchcovitch and Walter Rodrigues will be in Paris for collections in October, although Rodrigues is not participating at São Paulo. Haten also will show in Milan, at Milano Moda Donna fashion week.

Haten, who took part in the last four 7th on Sixth fashion weeks in New York, said he decided to skip Manhattan this year to put more energy into the SPFW and into luring foreign buyers to Brazil.

“I think it’s important for foreign buyers to come here to soak up the Brazilian environment, to better understand Brazilian trends and brands and to see my brand in that context,” said Haten, “which is something they can’t do when I take part in foreign fashion weeks.”

Haten said he decided to go to Milan because he was invited and because he wanted to increase sales to Europe, where he has few sales points compared with those in the U.S.

Some rtw labels like Zoomp, Ellus, Forum, Chá and Vide Bula, a jeans maker with a showroom in Madrid and 113 sales points in Europe, hope foreign press interest in this SPFW will help increase their sales abroad.

Alfredo Mascarenhas, who heads international relations for Zoomp, said “foreign coverage of the SPFW spreads news of Brazilian fashion and ready-to-wear to buyers abroad who are not that familiar with what’s going on here.”

Zoomp, whose summer 2004 collection comprises jeans and other casualwearmixing denim with silks, furs and other fabrics, is exporting to upscale boutiques in Europe, along with Galeries Lafayette, and is trying to get a bigger foothold in the American market (it’s now only being sold at New York’s Intermix multibrand store). And it will be opening its first single-brand store in Jakarta, Indonesia, in July.

More information about SPFW is available at its Web site: saopaulofashionweek.com.br.

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