Brazilian fashion brand Skazi intends to double growth to over 20 million reals, or $5.1 million, this year amid strong demand for its women’s wear that targets “powerful, sexy women” in their thirties to fifties, said marketing director Diego Lemos.

“We are going to grow 100 percent this year and may grow 50 percent to 100 percent in the next three years,” Lemos told WWD from the company’s flagship store in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. “Last year we grew 40 percent while other brands were declining.”

Lemos claimed the company is vertically integrated, manufacturing most of its yarns and fabrics locally, including in an 86,000-square-foot factory next to its store. That, coupled with clever celebrity and influencer-driven marketing, helped it top a recent survey naming it Brazil’s top women’s wear brand, he added.

“We only have wholesale, not retail, and we make everything ourselves, from the yarn to the finished garment. This has been the secret of our success,” he said.

Skazi, which is also about to launch its first men’s collection, plans to open 100 new points of sale this year to boost its count to 1,100, according to Lemos. While international markets account for 2 percent of sales, the brand plans to expand in coming months into markets beyond Paris (where it sells at Printemps, among other retailers) and the 20 countries in Europe and the U.S. where it already sells. New potential markets include Panama, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Buyers visiting the label, part of an international trip sponsored by top Brazilian apparel federation Abit and local trade promotion group Fiemg, were also enamored with it.

Designer and fashion entrepreneur Tiffany McCall bought $8,000 worth of Skazi and other Belo Horizonte designers such as Patricia Bonaldi and Victor Dzenk to sell in her boutiques in Paris and Cannes.

“I really liked their inspiration, which is a mixture of Brazilian culture and a bit of European with Caribbean cuts and soft pastels and silk fabrics,” McCall said of Skazi, which she hopes to take to her Tiffany’s Fashion Week Show in Paris later this year, alongside PatBo and Victor Dzenk. “I just hope they make the delivery dates and really hold their word on what we would like to buy from them.”

Despite the enthusiasm surrounding Skazi and other Brazilian brands targeting global markets, buyers continue to express concern about a seeming lack of preparedness to meet export and delivery deadlines.

The recent election of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro may hurt that process, said Ronaldo Fraga, well-known designer of the Belo Horizonte brand who recently started a fashion school to teach rising designers different ways to boost Brazil’s place in global fashion, such as techniques to blend regional cultural references with contemporary aesthetics.

“Nothing good is going to come from Bolsonaro,” Fraga told WWD on the sidelines of the 24th edition of the Minas Trend trade show. “Bolsonaro is an enemy of culture and plans to remove legislation supporting it, including fashion. The industry is going to be worse off, it’s going to decline.”

Fraga said Bolsonaro, who has pledged to support business through tax cuts and other incentives, has yet to draft a strategy to help expand the textile and apparel industry. Depending on the success of his much-touted pension reform, the industry could grow 1.5 percent to 3 percent this year, said Fabio Alves, chief financial officer of denim and twill-fabrics maker Cedro. Cedro is still recovering from Brazil’s deep recession, which saw its profits plunge 47 percent profit last year.

Earlier this year, the country’s four-year recession appeared to be turning the corner but recent turmoil surrounding Bolsonaro’s push to make Congress approve his pension overhaul (coupled with former president Michel Temer’s arrest), has cast fresh doubts on the speed of the recovery and the true extent of retailers’ rebound.

Other executives present at the biannual fair’s spring/summer edition, which focused on promoting emerging designers, were more sanguine about the new government.

“Bolsonaro is in favor of entrepreneurs and is pro-business,” said the owner of an apparel brand exporting to 15 countries, who requested anonymity. “He is going to support designers and export brands and provide more money for international fairs.”

An industry consultant agreed, adding that Bolsonaro’s pledge to streamline Brazil’s tax code and cut import duties for apparel-making machines will cut the industry’s production costs by 35 percent, if not more.


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