SAO PAULO — With the arrival of the summer season and hot temperatures in South America, a new revolution has begun in the Brazilian workplace — for the right to wear bermuda shorts at the office.
Author and fashion consultant Gloria Kalil calls the would-be movement this season’s “sensation.”
To encourage and convince directors and managers to adopt the trend, three friends from Rio de Janeiro recently created a website, which has been met with some early success. Publicist Ricardo Rulière, 26, is among the three behind the website Bermuda Sim (“Yes to Bermudas”), and he explains that the idea was to create a service that would send anonymous emails to heads of companies, recommending that they allow their employees to wear bermudas.
This is how it works: People are asked to provide their superior’s email address to the website, which in turn emails the supervisors or company heads. Since the website went live Jan. 8, more than 3,300 messages have been sent to top company officials.
To guide the would-be bermuda-wearers, the three friends have even established the 10 “Bermudaments,” rules for how to wear bermuda shorts at work. For instance, “Only wear bermudas when the temperature reaches 29.8° Celcius,” one rule says. “Just because you can wear bermudas doesn’t mean you can wear an A-shirt sleeveless shirt,” says another. And there is, of course, “No flowers allowed, anywhere!”
The project’s founders were motivated by the heatwave in the first days of 2014. “Suffering and sweating is bad for productivity,” Rulière says. “It creates stress and prevents you from working efficiently.” Fashion consultant Kalil agrees. “It makes sense to claim the right to use more tropical clothing. Men wear suits at work by convention, not because it’s the law.”
But before bermudas can be widely accepted in a business environment, they need an icon. “Jorge Paulo Lemann a banker and Brazil’s richest man, according to Forbes inaugurated casual clothing in Rio’s financial district,” Kalil says. “A friend of mine told me that today, only those who have less than 1 million reais ($420,000) wear a suit.”
The idea has recently gained popularity, but it has had high-placed supporters for a while. Four years ago, Fabricio Buzeto, an entrepreneur from the capital Brasília, wrote a “bermuda manifesto.” The 29-year-old, who owns a software company, says that he employed many workers who, because of their appearance, had little chance of being hired elsewhere. “Very often, people are judged on other things than just their efficiency,” he explains.
In the offices of Rio-based company Peixe Urbano, bermuda shorts are actually the rule. Product administrator Vitor Vander Vellden says that on warm days, all men wear them. So much so that their clients and business partners already know what to expect. “We’ve all worked in these buildings,” he says. “It hurts seeing our neighbors having to wear a suit and a tie.”