Brazilian Slum Artisans Open Their First Shop - In A Rio Luxury Mall
From the slums of Rio to the city's wealthiest neighborhood, The Handcraft and Sewing Co-operative of Rocinha has come a long way, catching the eye of fashion gods such as Christian Lacroix and Carlos Miele.
RIO DE JANEIRO - After three decades of producing handcrafts and clothes for other brands or in collaboration with famous fashion designers, a group of artisans from Rio's impoverished Rocinha favela are finally opening their own shop – in São Conrado, one of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods.
The Handcraft and Sewing Co-operative of Rocinha, or Coopa-Roca, is set to open its first shop in a luxury shopping center called Fashion Mall. "We felt the need to sell directly to the customers," says project founder Maria Teresa Leal, 54.
Since its founding 31 years ago, Coopa-Roca has worked with some veritable fashion giants, including Carlos Miele of Brazil and France's Christian Lacroix. But the organization hails from Latin America's largest slum.
Rocinha was ‘pacified" in November 2011, meaning the government used police and soldiers to seize control of the area away from drug dealers.
The new Coopa-Roca shop will be surrounded by Brazilian luxury brands like Maria Bonita and Constança Basto. It will feature roughly 1,000 products, including decorative items, women's clothing and accessories. "They are not for mass consumption because they are all handmade. But we are not going to charge lots of money from customers," says Maria Teresa.
Coopa-Roca works with approximately 100 artisans, all of them from Rocinha. They produce the pieces at home and receive between $50 and $500 per month.
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Photo – Instituto Rio Moda