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Worldview: São Paulo Fashion Week Recasts Seamstresses as Designers

This week’s round-up of global markets fashion business news also features the China Duty Free Group, Uniqlo’s Japanese owner and a pan-African e-commerce platform in Côte d’Ivoire.
A model at the João Pimenta show at the Martinelli building during São Paulo Fashion Week in São Paulo, Brazil on April 14, 2024.
A model at the João Pimenta show at the Martinelli building during São Paulo Fashion Week in São Paulo, Brazil on April 14, 2024. (Getty Images)

🇧🇷 São Paulo Fashion Week recasts seamstresses as designers in Brazil. The 57th edition of the country’s largest fashion week event took place between Apr. 9 and 14 across Iguatemi venues as well as other spaces around the city. The biannual showcase, this season featuring 27 fashion shows, saw veterans like Aluf, Amapô, André Lima, Gloria Coelho, João Pimenta and Lilly Sarti, join newcomers Catarina Mina and Reptilia on the runway. “São Paulo Fashion Week was designed as a long-term project [almost three decades ago] to work on building a fashion culture in Brazil that is aligned to the shifts in the market,” said Paulo Borges, event founder and artistic director. Fashion week’s recent social inclusion initiatives like the Cria Costura project featuring the designs of more than 150 trainee seamstresses, including those from deprived neighbourhoods across the city, has evolved over five editions, helping to showcase the creativity of hitherto anonymous garment workers, recasting them as designers-in-the-making. [FashionNetwork Brazil]

🇯🇵 Uniqlo’s Japanese parent posts double-digit profit growth in H1. Fast Retailing has reported a 16.7 percent rise in operating profit to 257.0 billion yen ($1.6 billion) in the first half of the 2024 fiscal year, compared with the same period a year ago. Consolidated revenues rose 9 percent to 1.5989 trillion yen ($10.4 billion). Uniqlo Japan reported a sharp rise in profit, despite a dip in revenue. The company also cited strong performance in its overseas Uniqlo units in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia, as well as in its Gu brand unit. Revenue and profit from Hong Kong rose while mainland China saw a rise in revenue but a slight decline in profit. [BoF Inbox]

🇨🇮 Ivorian pan-African e-commerce firm Anka reveals new business model. When asked what the simplest way is to explain what the Côte d’Ivoire-based fashion e-commerce startup Afrikrea has become since it rebranded as Anka, founder and CEO Moulaye Tabouré told Semafor that it is like “Etsy + PayPal + Shopify + shipping = Anka.” The Mali-born entrepreneur said that “it is the all-in-one SaaS (software as a service) for any business that wants to sell African products or services across borders [by helping] entrepreneurs sell as easily on WhatsApp or Instagram as they would on their website.” The latest investment in Anka in September from the International Finance Corporation amounted to $3.4 million, bringing the total funding raised to date to more than $15 million. [Semafor]

🇨🇳 China Duty Free Group’s parent posts strong 2023 revenue growth. The parent of CDFG, China Tourism Group Duty Free Corporation (CTG), has confirmed the performance it previously revealed in January’s preliminary results. Revenue rose more than 24 percent year-on-year to 67,540 million yuan ($9.3 billion), while net profit increased more than 32 percent to 6,790 million yuan ($939.4 million) at the firm, whose holdings include travel retail outlets nationwide including several in Hainan, China’s domestic duty-free hub. [The Moodie Davitt Report]


🇰🇷 South Korean apparel manufacturing giant Sae-A to acquire US-based Tegra. The Seoul-based firm, one of the world’s largest vertically integrated clothing manufacturers with over 60,000 employees supplying retailers like Target, Walmart, Kohl’s and Gap, has signed a deal to acquire Tegra, an Atlanta-based manufacturer of performance-based athleticwear and sportswear with facilities in Honduras and El Salvador. The move helps Sae-A Trading, whose main production base beyond South Korea is in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar, expand further in the Central America and Caribbean region where it already has a footprint in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Haiti. [Sourcing Journal]

🇧🇷 Asian e-tailers compete for vendors in colossal Brazilian garment district. With 65% of vendors in Brás, the country’s largest district covering a cluster of 5,000 stores across 55 streets in São Paulo, not yet started selling online, foreign marketplaces like China-founded Shein, Mercado Livre (the Brazilian branch of Argentina’s MercadoLibre) and Singapore’s Shopee have been onboarding them aggressively in a bid to capture market share from Brazilian online platforms like Magazine Luiza and Americanas. [Rest of World]

🇵🇱 Amazon and Temu take on Poland’s e-commerce leader Allegro. The American and Chinese giants are pulling out all the stops in the largest economy in the Central and Eastern Europe region, where growth rates are set to outpace those of more mature markets. In February, Amazon (which entered in 2021) had almost 5.9 million users in the country, while Poznan-based Allegro (founded in 1999) had 18.2 million, and Temu (which entered in 2023) counted 13.7 million, according to Mediapanel Gemius Polska. [Reuters]

🇵🇾 Paraguay looks to strengthen its garment production export industry. The Paraguayan garment industry, which counts producers for global brands like Lacoste and Fila as well as Latin American labels including Jazmín Chebar and Renner, has recently attracted more investment from markets across the Mercosur region (the South American trade bloc comprising members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, suspended member Venezuela and associate countries Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname), according to CNIME, the National Council of Exporter Maquiladora Industries (CNIME). [FashionNetwork]

🇨🇳 Zara denies rumours of exiting the China market amid store closures. The fast fashion brand’s parent company Inditex reportedly said that it is not withdrawing from China, despite speculation on Chinese social media platforms about its future after reports surfaced of multiple stores closing in quick succession around the country, adding that recent closures are part of normal operations to create the optimal network of store sizes and locations through upgrades, openings and closures. [Global Times]

🇮🇳 India’s Malabar Gold & Diamonds hits $6.1 billion in annual turnover. The Kozhikode-based company, India’s second largest jeweller by retail sales after Titan’s Tanishq according to Euromonitor, has reported annual global turnover of 51,218 crore rupees in the 2024 financial year. Operating 345 stores across 13 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America, the firm said it plans to open 100 stores next year, eyeing new markets like New Zealand. [Economic Times]

🇨🇳 Lacoste wins trademark infringement case against brand in China. The Beijing Higher People’s Court has ruled that the French fashion brand’s crocodile logo has been infringed upon by Cartelo, an apparel brand owned by Nanji E-Commerce which uses a similar logo, ordering it to pay Lacoste 14.8 million yuan ($2.28 million) in damages. The legal dispute between the two companies has been ongoing for over a decade but the latest ruling is believed to be the final judgement. [Jing Daily]

🇮🇳 Indian court rules against Hindustan Unilever Ltd in trademark dispute. The Calcutta High Court has issued an order restricting consumer goods giant Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) from using the ‘Glow & Handsome’ mark for its men’s creams and other products, following a lawsuit filed by competitor Emami Ltd claiming the former company’s mark constitutes infringement of the latter’s “deceptively similar” mark ‘Fair and Handsome’. [Mint]


🇨🇳 Lululemon partners with Chinese F1 racing driver Zhou Guanyu. The athleisure brand has introduced a limited-edition collaborative collection, co-designed by the athlete to mark the 20th anniversary of the F1 Shanghai Grand Prix, following its appointment of the Formula One driver as brand ambassador last year. [Jing Daily]

🇮🇳 Indian multi-brand beauty retailer Tira launches private label. The retailer owned by conglomerate Reliance Retail, which sells local and international beauty brands, has released a line of beauty accessories called Tira Tools including makeup brushes and beauty sponges. [BoF Inbox]

🇨🇳 Tmall expands timepieces marketing strategy during Watches & Wonders fair. The Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform has released over 70 new products from 13 luxury brands during the Swiss watch fair between 13-15 April. Many of the newest watches, including those from Van Cleef & Arpels, IWC and Panerai, were made available for immediate purchase through livestreaming. [BoF Inbox]

🇨🇳 L’Oréal names Chinese actress Tang Yan as brand ambassador. The French beauty conglomerate has tapped the star, also known as Tiffany Tang, known for herroles in Wong Kar-wai’s hit TV drama Blossoms Shanghai and numerous other films. [Jing Daily]

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