RIO DE JANEIRO — Although the two biannual fashion weeks in Brazil do not promise major format changes, purchasing, especially among domestic buyers, should be robust, organizers predicted.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The upscale São Paulo Fashion Week, featuring 40 fashion-forward collections for summer 2011, will be held June 8 to 14 at the 301,000-square-foot Bienal Cultural Center in Ibirapuera Park, its longtime venue.

SPFW, open to the public, will draw 110,000 attendees and over 50 foreign buyers, organizers estimate. They have delayed plans until next January’s edition to open a temporary, off-site buyer’s salon to replace an on-site salon that had been suspended since June 2007. SPFW organizers plan to open a permanent, off-site salon in June 2011.

Typically, business during SPFW — including at independent salons, showrooms of SPFW designers and those of stylists without runway shows — brings in around 1.5 billion reais ($842 million at current exchange).

Salão Casamoda, the newest and most exclusive, independent off-site salon, which carried 44 labels (a mix of SPFW and newer São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro designers) and rang up 50 million reais ($27.7 million) during last January’s SPFW, plans to carry 52 labels and aims for 30 percent more business than it did in January, said Amir Slama, the salon’s administrative director.

“Brazilian summer collections always sell better than winter ones, shown in January,” said Slama. “But we also plan to boost sales because fashion buying is up this year, helped by a growing middle class and a stable economy.”

Graça Cabral, a director with Grupo Luminosidade, which organizes SPFW and Fashion Rio, Brazil’s second-largest fashion week, agrees. “We expect fashion sales during the SPFW and Fashion Rio to go up by at least 15 percent because Brazil’s big and stable economy has not been greatly affected by the world economic crisis, as witnessed by growing fashion sales so far in 2010.”

The biannual Fashion Rio, which offers more affordable, mainstream apparel than SPFW, will feature 35 stylists, draw 95,000 visitors and 30 foreign buyers to its upcoming edition. The May 27 to June 1 event will be held inside three remodeled warehouses and their annexes at the Mauá Pier, where ships dock, an area totaling 278,000 square feet. This has been the show’s venue since June, when it moved from the Marina da Glória docking area.

Rio-à-Porter, Fashion Rio’s buyers’ salon, premiered in January with 169 showrooms (for Fashion Rio designers only) in two other remodeled Mauá Pier warehouses occupying 88,000 square feet. From May 29 to June 1, its 250 showrooms will spread into a third warehouse, giving the salon 126,000 total square feet of space to make room for the additional exhibitors. This salon space is in addition to the 278,000 square feet taken up by Fashion Rio. With the 43 percent increase in space, in June Rio-à-Porter expects a big sales increase over the 526 million reais ($292 million) in domestic sales, and $18.5 million in foreign sales it rang up in January, said João Paulo Alcantara, a Rio-à-Porter organizer. “Also, domestic fashion sales are robust here, apparently unaffected by the global economic crisis,” he added.

Fashion Business, an off-site buyers’ salon of 220 exhibitors that don’t take part in Fashion Rio, will last from May 17 to 21. It will take place at the Marina da Glória, and is expected to attract 45,000 visitors, mainly domestic and foreign buyers as opposed to the general public.

Fashion Business is inviting 600 Brazilian buyers for the next event, up from 150 in June 2009, when it rang up 461 million reais ($236 million) in domestic sales and $21 million in foreign sales.

“The domestic fashion market is so strong in Brazil that this is where we expect our business to grow this year,” said an organizer. “We expect our foreign business to decline this year because foreign buyers now prefer China and other Asian markets.”

Foreigners will find fashion a bit pricier this year than at last June’s fairs. That’s because the dollar has lost 13 percent against the real since June 2009, and the euro has lost 17 percent against the real since January 2009. Those devaluations have made dollar- and euro-based fashion exports more expensive and more competitive.

Fair organizer Cabral said, however, that “if foreign buying goes down during the upcoming fashion weeks, it won’t be because the real’s valuation against the dollar and euro has made fashion a bit more costly, but because international buyers, unlike those in Brazil, are still feeling the effects of the global economic crisis and have no idea how long this downturn will go on.”

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