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Top Brazilian Designer Sees Mass Fashion Opportunities

Alexandre Herchcovitch, one of Brazil’s top designers, says the future of fashion in this Bric country is in clothing the rising middle class -- even if he won't ever stop making super-expensive stuff for the super-rich.

O Boticário show during São Paulo Fashion Week (O Boticário SPFW)
O Boticário show during São Paulo Fashion Week (O Boticário SPFW)
Vivian Whiteman and Pedro Diniz

SÃO PAULO - "Lets get real..." As São Paulo Fashion Week kicks off, one of Brazil's most acclaimed designers, Alexandre Herchcovitch, says his industry must redirect its eye toward the country's growing middle class -- and even those just rising out of poverty. "This is the rule for those who want to survive in Brazil," he affirms in the following interview.

FOLHA: What do you think of some fashion designers suggesting a separation between commercial and conceptual brands in Brazil's fashion weeks?
HERCHCOVITCH: When you are aware of what you are doing, you don't have to be afraid. My role models are in New York. There some brands that have been showing polo shirts for the past 120 years. Sorry, I don't need to ask Paulo Borges Fashion Week organizer for special treatment for my brand. And who will play God to know which one is good and which one is less good? Each designer has to take care of his own stuff, do his best and be brave enough to show it.

What do the final consumers want?
Let's get real. Brazil has enough expertise to make popular clothes for lower classes. We have to look at this reality. I was taking a shower today and wondered "what do I sell the most and the least?" I don't sell so many dresses that cost R$10,000 ($5,000), but I won't give up making expensive dresses. Still, those who want to survive nowadays in Brazil have to make products for middle and lower-middle class customers.

How is it to compete with international luxury brands?
Our clothes are not as good as theirs. It's hard to compete, and we don't have the same quality of fabrics. If we buy those fabrics, the clothes get too expensive. I do the best I can, while making it possible to sell in Brazil.

And who are your customers?
I don't know well. I've tried to do this "Brazilian female style," but I'm not good at it. That's not a problem, though, the country is huge, and there is a variety of tastes. My brand has conquered its own space. If I focused more on serving the lower classes, I would have more customers, but I don't know how to do it, so I just adjusted my expectations.

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Photo -O BoticárioSPFW

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LGBTQ Plus

My Wife, My Boyfriend — And Grandkids: A Careful Coming Out For China's Gay Seniors

A series of interviews in Wuhan with aging gay men — all currently or formerly married to women — reveals a hidden story of how Chinese LGBTQ culture is gradually emerging from the shadows.

Image of two senior men playing chinese Checkers.

A friendly game of Checkers in Dongcheng, Beijing, China.

Wang Er

WUHAN — " What do you think of that guy sitting there, across from us? He's good looking."

" Then you should go and talk to him."

“ Too bad that I am old..."

Grandpa Shen was born in 1933. He says that for the past 40 years, he's been "repackaged," a Chinese expression for having come out as gay. Before his wife died when he was 50, Grandpa Shen says he was was a "standard" straight Chinese man. After serving in the army, he began working in a factory, and dated many women and evenutually got married.

"Becoming gay is nothing special, I found it very natural." Grandpa Shen says he discovered his homosexuality at the Martyrs' Square in Wuhan, a well-known gay men's gathering place.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

Wuhan used to have different such ways for LGBTQ+ to meet: newspaper columns, riversides, public toilets, bridges and baths to name but a few. With urbanization, many of these locations have disappeared. The transformation of Martyrs' Square into a park has gradually become a place frequented by middle-aged and older gay people in Wuhan, where they play cards and chat and make friends. There are also "comrades" (Chinese slang for gay) from outside the city who come to visit.

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