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SPFW N52: Fashion as a tool for social inclusion and diversity

By Marta De Divitiis

6 Dec 2021

Fashion

Fashion, which for so long has been elitist, can also be a tool for social inclusion.

This was the message that remained after the end of season 52 of SPFW - São Paulo Fashion Week. The event took place from 16 to 21 November at the Brazilian Cultural Pavilion in Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo. Dominated by diversity, the catwalk displayed a profusion of bodies from tall and short, thin and fat, cis and trans, young and old.

But diversity was not restricted to the catwalk. The brands also came with inclusivity on display with fashion made by black designers, ex-convict stylists and seamstresses, who were trained in a programme organised by the city hall of São Paulo, were present alongside the established brands and other beginners. Virtual clothes even made an appearance, dubbed ‘skins’ in the parade.

"Since the 80's we have been observing the transformation of an elitist fashion and, especially after the pandemic we are impacted by a new universe; we were already bringing the discussions about diversity, we put a rule of racial equity three editions ago and this is the first time we observe this in a face-to-face way. In parallel, a lot has happened: the line up has changed, black designers are now being seen. These are very real processes that are causing several impacts, from the emotional (because we are seeing each other face-to-face again), economic, intellectual (because we see new processes), a new public, passionate about fashion, everything is impacting us", explains Paulo Borges, the event's creative director.

Cria Costura and Ponto Firme Project bring social opportunities through sewing and crochet

The event opened with a parade of 23 women, who were trained in fashion in an initiative organised by the São Paulo City Hall, together with In-MOD - National Institute of Fashion and Design. Under the tutelage of Jefferson de Assis, each student developed 12 pieces, with the result presented in the parade.

The event opened with a parade of 23 women who were trained in fashion (creation and management) by designer Jefferson de Assis, in an initiative of the City of São Paulo, together with In-MOD - National Institute of Fashion and Design. "The project, called Cria Costura (Create Sewing), creative accelerator; it was exactly this feeling of creation that we wanted to bring, since seamstresses are seen only as machine operators and the creative part is left to the designers; it is important to have seamstresses with a creative mind; we had ten meetings where we encouraged everyone to develop in design, production, and management; it is a materialization project," says Assis. Diverse, the group is made up of students, those who have taken basic sewing courses, and others who already have a workshop and want to set up a confection.

"This is a pilot project and we hope that the result will generate new projects," explains the designer and consultant. Each student developed 12 pieces on their own and the results were shown at the event.

The Ponto Firme fashion show inaugurated the space in downtown São Paulo, where crochet courses will be held for former inmates of the prison system, under the coordination of stylist Gustavo Silvestre. This edition showed the evolution of the project. The pieces, exquisitely developed, have gained fashion information and technical improvement. Light dresses, mesh T-shirts with crochet inserts, crochet jacquard tank tops. Highlight for the long dress in canvas and satin thread and the crochet caps developed by teenagers from the East Zone of São Paulo (Crochê de Vilão).

Another highlight were the jackets made of wheat sacks, sugar, in an "aesthetic of scarcity", according to Silvestre, who explains that the human rights team of the OAB - Organization of Lawyers of Brazil - is carrying out a screening among the egresses of the prison system, who have the ability, to be part of the group (so far only men participate).

Sankofa Project brings seven emerging brands

For its second participation at SPFW, the Sankofa Project arrived with seven new brands. Having gone through a mentoring and sponsor brands process, the movement aims to put black and indigenous designers in the spotlight. Co-authored by Pretos na Moda (Blacks in Fashion), it was founded by Natasha Soares and Rafael Silvério from the startup VAMO - Vetor Afro Indígena na Moda.

On the first day, brand Meninos Rei showcased a mixture of colourful prints, with new volumes in women's and men's pieces. Next, the Mão de Mãe Atelier came with a collection of crocheted, striped and checkered pieces. In an elaborative look, they brought hot pants and jacquard.

Santa Resistência was all about fluidity on the catwalk, showcasing tailored pieces and striking prints of colourful cities. The brand also notably used rescued details from traditional arts and crafts. Naya Violeta, a brand from Goiás, highlighted its exuberant print with comfortable models of women’s and men’s clothing.

Silvério presented tailor-made pieces with pink satin lapels. Cut-outs, a mixture of fabrics and wide armholes that merged with the back and tie at the front of the piece were also significant features in the brand’s design.

Silvério presented tailoring with pink satin lapels. Cutouts leaked, mixture of fabrics and wide armholes that merge with the back coming to tie in the front of the piece. The Marias brought details in macramé and frills, lurex knitwear and wide pants. Highlight for the pants with zippers in two different points of the length, which can be transformed into cropped pants or shorts. Mille Lab came with work in sweatshirts, micro skirts for women and pants and shorts for men. The strong point, however, was the eloquent anti-racist speech, in rap and spoken poem.

Comfort, tailoring, tradition and sporty vibe

Comfortable pieces were a predominant theme among the collections. They could be seen in À La Garçonne, in Ellus and in ALG, the second brand of Alexandre Herchcovitch and Fábio Souza.

With plus-sized models, low waisted jeans, sweatshirt fabrics and Grunge-era plaids, the three parades were visibly influenced by the streets. Ronaldo Fraga presented tailor-made outfits in RenauxView fabrics. There was a lot of jacquard and poetic joy in the film, starring company employees, as well as models under contract.

The newcomer Baska, headed by influencer and businessman from Alagoas, Carlinhos Maia, alongside creative director Dudu Farias brought monochrome looks, which mixed tailor-made pieces with parkas and sweatshirts. Jackets with removable sleeves were also included, and in a more feminine vein were dresses and jumpsuits with a marked waist and lace up details.

João Pimenta combined comfort with tailor-made pieces, with wide-legged trousers, high Italian bars and pleated skirts. Chequered material came in houndstooth and Prince of Wales, accompanied by chalk stripes on costumes and long overcoats. Matelassé satin jackets and overcoats marked some looks.

Weider Silvério showed off slinky dresses and skirts in terry mesh, providing comfort in more sophisticated models. The waist was marked with vertical cut-outs. Besides white, floral print on black background. White coats were lined with elegant pink fabrics.

At the São Paulo Cultural Centre, Fernanda Yamamoto presented an exhibition through a parade/performance, using models from the Yuba community, from Mirandópolis in the interior of São Paulo state.

Creating silk organza inserts and utilising cheesecloth, the fashion design team featured three kimonos to use in the dance shows. Some of the kimonos were made entirely out of silk, in beautiful colour combinations.

Photos courtesy Fotosite Agency