Brazil has emerged on the world stage with this year’s World Cup followed by the 2016 Olympics. Brazil is more than just a country of beautiful beaches, beautiful people, beautiful music, and “futebol,” the beautiful game performed with the same style and panache as the Ipanema and Leblon sun-worshippers. Brazil is the world’s 2 largest employer of textile workers in 30,000 companies and is one of the world’s top ranked in textile and denim production. So why haven’t we heard of Brazilian fashion?
Because of the high cost of production in Brazil only 15% of output is exported. The remainder is for domestic consumption. Now “high cost of production” is not a bad thing because thanks to stringent and, more importantly, enforced labor laws, Brazilian textile workers earn a decent wage.
Which brings me to what I call a fashion micro-enterprise called HauteMele headed by Emily Gregoriu, a spirited native New Yorker and FIT graduate. Two years ago Emily traveled to Brazil and was inspired to apply her book knowledge to create “Made in Brazil” ultra luxury clothing for women to be sold at exclusive boutiques, high-end hotels and private sittings. As an American she knows the US luxury market intimately. And through trusted contacts in Brazil, she can insure the highest quality. Additionally, the HauteMele client carries no politically incorrect baggage whether the item was made by exploited workers.
The HauteMele mission statement articulates their approach as “more than a brand, it is a blend of Brazilian sophistication and beauty that indulge our inner being. It represents a lifestyle that blends elegance, style and quality to one-of-a-kind swimwear, cover-ups and innovative accessories.”
Emily is introducing her collection of bespoke, exotic luxury fashion into the NYC market, particularly in North Brooklyn which is becoming more and more the driver for the upscale market where independently-owned boutiques proliferate. Entry into the North Brooklyn market represents an excellent match between a female-owned fashion concern with numerous boutiques who feature collections from young, up & coming designers that cater to a growing demographic of young professionals. The uniqueness of Emily’s Brazilian collection is its carioca verve, sass and a bit of sexy swagger.
This carioca verve and sass were on display last summer when I attended HauteMele’s private fashion promotion in the penthouse of a luxury Art Deco financial district building. It goes without saying that luxury brands require luxury venues. However this brand specifically sets itself apart from the corporate luxury firms that churn out mass-produced designer label ‘threads’ and promote them as “exclusive” to the masses from Madison Avenue shops to suburban discount malls.
Think how differently you felt wearing a handmade quality artisanal piece vs. a similar mass produced so-called luxury one. I can attest to that feeling when I was in pre-Katrina New Orleans where I met an entrepreneurial fashion designer in his workshop. From a large single cloth he created distinctive and creative coloring patterns. Because of the asymmetrical patterns four unique men’s ties were cut from the same cloth. It was indeed a hand-crafted work of art that conveyed a personal statement. It was then lovingly rolled into a small white box sealed with a label embossed with the firm’s name “W.P. Victory”.
—Albert Goldson is an Architectural & Engineering Contract Manager specializing in transportation mega-projects, energy, security and urban planning. An internationalist, he is a long-time Williamsburg resident.