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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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