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NEW YORK — Nike is heading to South America for its summer collection.

Brazilian culture inspired the company’s new performance and lifestyle looks, which include brightly colored mesh tops, T-shirts, boardshorts and jerseys, as well as bikinis and bodysuits.

“The collection celebrates the country’s spirit, attitude and passion for sports that is so much a part of the culture,” said Mindy Grossman, Nike’s vice president of global apparel. “It is a natural connection to Nike and Nike designers who have worked with Brazilian athletes for many years. Our designers were specifically inspired by key elements of Brazilian culture, including football, capoeira, beach and dance.”

One collection, called Aprendiz, was inspired by artwork from students at the Escola da Rua (School of the Streets) in San Paolo, while another was designed in collaboration with Brazilian designer Jum Nakao.

Retail prices for the items range from about $38 to $500 for some of the special pieces. Company executives declined to give a sales projection for the collection. In addition to Niketown and Nikewomen stores and other retailers who carry Nike apparel, some pieces in the collection will be sold at select specialty stores such as Opening Ceremony in Manhattan and Base in Miami.

The summer collection was feted last week at Exit Art, a cultural space on Manhattan’s West Side, where partygoers listened to live drum music and sampled Brazilian food and drink while checking out the new duds.

This story first appeared in the February 24, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.