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Brazil’s Fashion Weeks: Steady She Goes

Organizers of Brazil’s main runway fashion weeks aim to attract visitors with salons and convenient showroom facilities, despite the surging local currency.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Organizers of Brazil’s main runway fashion weeks aim to attract visitors with salons and convenient showroom facilities, despite the surging real, the local currency, compared with the U.S. dollar and the euro.

The biannual Fashion Rio, a showcase for affordable, mainstream apparel, will be held from Jan. 8 to 13, at an 868,000-square-foot space at Rio de Janeiro’s Mauá Pier, where cruise ships dock. This has been its venue since June. Previously, Fashion Rio was held at the Marina da Gloria, the city’s main docking area for pleasure craft.

Runway shows will take place inside three 113,000-square-foot remodeled warehouses at the pier. Rio Prêt à Porter, a Fashion Rio buyers’ salon with more than 100 showrooms for domestic and international buyers, will occupy a 97,000-square-foot tent on the pier itself.

Fashion Rio’s January event typically features about 45 designers, draws 80,000 attendees — Brazilian fairs are usually open to the fashion-loving public — and more than 90 foreign buyers. In January at the salon, domestic buyers placed 376 million reais, or $162 million at current exchange, in orders, and foreigners bought $15.8 million worth of fashion.

The biannual São Paulo Fashion Week, which will feature upscale, fashion-forward collections for winter 2010, will be held from Jan. 17 to 22 at the Biennial Cultural Center in Ibirapuera Park, its venue for many years.

SPFW’s January event tends to feature around 40 stylists, draw 75,000 attendees and more than 30 foreign buyers.

The SPFW had planned to open an off-site domestic and international buyers’ salon for this fair to replace an on-site showroom space that had been suspended since June 2007. But organizers could not be reached to confirm whether the salon will be ready in time. In January, the off-site showrooms of SPFW designers, both with and without formal runway presentations, brought in 1.5 billion reais, or $652 million.

At each of the upcoming fairs, foreign buyers can expect to find fashion pricier than at last January’s editions. That’s because the dollar has lost 33 percent against the real since January, while the euro lost 24 percent in the same period. Those devaluations have made dollar- and euro-based fashion exports more expensive and more competitive in the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, Reed Exhibitions Alcantara Machado, organizer of the annual Fenit fair for textiles and moderately priced apparel — casual-, beach- and athleticwear — has decided to discontinue its fair, usually held each June at São Paulo’s Anhembi Park. A spokesman said the decision allows the group to “concentrate on other, more lucrative fairs that we organize.”