Alexandre Herchcovitch is among the local designers taking part in Sao Paulo Fashion Week.

RIO DE JANEIRO — São Paulo Fashion Week, which is unveil ing winter 2004 collections, is attracting as much foreign buyer interest as?last July’s SPFW, which featured summer collections that traditionally sell best abroad, organizers...

RIO DE JANEIRO — São Paulo Fashion Week, which is unveil ing winter 2004 collections, is attracting as much foreign buyer interest as?last July’s SPFW, which featured summer collections that traditionally sell best abroad, organizers said.

This story first appeared in the January 29, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

During this biannual SPFW, which started Wednesday and runs through Feb. 3, 37 designers will show their wares, as compared with the 47 who did so in July, partly because most bikini and beachwear designers won’t be present. But for the first time, the SPFW is also housing the showrooms of 48 brands at the event, allowing lesser-known houses to get exposure.

Among the local designers taking part in the show are Alexandre Herchcovitch, Fause Haten, Lino Villaventura, Reinaldo Lourenco and Tufi Duek, designer of the signature line Forum. Other ready-to-wear labels like Zoomp, André Lima, Gloria Coelho, Ellus, Triton, Iodice, Patachou, Carlota Joakina, Ronaldo Fraga, Ricardo Almeida, Sommer, Vide Bula and Brazilian beachwear maker Rosa Chá are also there.

Among international retailers who said they were coming are Selfridges of London, Le Samaritaine from Paris, French boutique L’Eclaireur and?Opening Ceremony of New York’s SoHo.? Organizers said they expect this edition to deliver a foreign buyer turnout as strong or stronger as the July and January 2003 weeks.?

“Even though Brazil’s milder winter means that our winter collections are lighter-weight than those in the U.S. and Europe, they have become as popular among foreign buyers as our summer collections,” said Graça Cabral, one of the SPFW organizers.?“I think that’s because American and European women increasingly prefer wearing lighter, more comfortable clothes under heavier coats and jackets, with that outer garment alone meant to keep them warm.”?

Designer Fause Haten agreed with Cabral about the growing appeal of Brazilian winter collections abroad.? “More and more, U.S. and European women, like those here, want to be able to show off their bodies all year round, in clothes that reveal, not hide, their sensual forms,” said Haten. “The SPFW’s winter 2004 collections will appeal to that trend.”

Haten said that foreign buyers are also coming to the upcoming SPFW because it is their only chance to see Brazilian winter 2004 collections. Of all the Brazilian designers to take part in the upcoming SPFW, only Alexandre Herchcovitch will take part in other?major winter 2004 collection shows this year, in his case, 7th on Sixth in New York in early February. Other Brazilian designers, like Haten and Rosa Chá, are showing only their summer 2005 collections at major foreign shows later this year.

At this SPFW, Rosa Chá won’t feature the amount or variety of beachwear that she showed at the July edition.

“This time around, we’re showing more tropics-themed casual clothes, like cruise and boat wear, rather than strictly beachwear,” said Chá owner Amir Slama. “Even still, we’re launching some new bikinis, mainly for the local market.”

Dipa de Pietro, the marketing director for Zoomp, a jeans and casual wear maker, said that the brand’s winter collection will also be aimed at the local market. However, he said,?“When we put together our SPFW show, we do so with an eye on the foreign market too.”

This is, in part, because Zoomp, which sells three million pieces annually, exports 40,000 pieces a year, mostly in designer jeans and casual tops, to Europe and Asia, and hopes to boost exports by 30 percent this year.?

Selfridges came to SPFW for the first time last July and bought clothes for an event next May called “Brasil 40°,” which will feature over 30 Brazilian designers.

“Selfridges always has an eye on Brazilian fashion, even winter collections, because international trends show that women are wearing lighter clothes in winter, and body-celebrating Brazilian fashion appeals to this trend,” said Eduardo Jordão de Magalhães, a London-based fashion consultant for Selfridges.

Opening Ceremony bought clothes at SPFW last July because the store, which features labels of a different country every year alongside Americans, is featuring two seasons of Brazilian labels —winter 2003 and summer 2004 — through next September.

“We’re coming back for the winter 2004 season to buy the collections of? three Brazilian designers because the last two seasons of Brazilian fashion we bought are selling very well,” said Opening Ceremony partner Carol Lynn.