The BRICs are often spoken of in one breath, as if they’re exactly that – a solid terracotta brick, a single homogenous building block. This may make some sense when we’re talking about economic growth, with Brazil, Russia, India and China all proving lucrative in their own way, but where it falls down completely is the salability of the national brand on the world stage.
Look at the luxury industry for example. Financial commentators and fashion editors alike have puzzled over China’s inability to create a truly compelling international brand in this space, and despite the plucky efforts of brands such as Jupe, Indian manufacturing is still a byword for exploitation and shoddy quality.
Now compare this to Brazil. Not only does this Latin American monster present an exceptional domestic market, even if wildly distorted by taxes and import tariffs, but as a national brand it’s a potent force on the world stage.
When I was at Pitti Uomo in Florence for the menswear shows last month, there was a bevy of bright-eyed young Brazilian brands clamoring for editorial, and it was satisfying to see how easily they packaged up a slice of Paulista or Cariocas lifestyle into a seductive product.
One brand in particular had built an entire lifestyle range around the Brazilian beach bat game of Frescobol. FB collection is the brainchild of two young entrepreneurs who were playing the game on the beach one day and dreamt up a full range of trunks, beach towels and light cotton shirts off the bat. You can’t really imagine a Chinese equivalent with Ping Pong.
And the thing is that it works so well, the Brazilian material is so rich. FB collection’s trunks are spattered with Copacabana sidewalk patterns, and other prints include oversized reproductions of art works by Brazilian artist Caio Locke.
The other reason why the world is set to see much, much more of brand Brazil is because it’s a tough domestic market in several respects. Luxury costs are high and the elite are outward looking, with those who can jet off to Miami and New York for weekend shopping trips, with petrol costs for return TAM flights noticeably higher than outward – such is the weight of Louboutins and Vuitton.
This provides impetus for local brands to think global, and there are plenty of consumers in grey western economies willing to snap up a brand from a country having its time in the sun. The economy may be doing well in much of R, I, and C but it’s only B that can unite brand and business.