Fashion is a truly global language now. The most hyped designers right now are from the former Soviet Union, brands from Korea are killing it, and every month our Under the Radar feature spotlights brands from all over the world.
21st-century youths are harnessing the power of the internet and social media to scour the world for newness, while designers and brands use it to take their visions global. It's created a globalized melting pot of culture, and it's one of the most exciting things about streetwear in 2017.
With that in mind, we're venturing further afield to get a little closer to street culture scenes all over the globe. First up in our roaming series of reporting is Ricardo Nunes, editor of SneakersBR, Brazil's number one sneakerhead resource.
I hit up Ricardo to get the lowdown on what's happening in the Brazilian sneaker and streetwear scene at the moment.
How is the sneaker scene in Brazil at the moment?
The sneaker scene in Brasil is having a moment right now, with more and more stores opening, special products coming to our market and more kids interested in the subject than ever. Nike and adidas are the most popular brands, for sure, but we also have space for special projects from PUMA, ASICS, New Balance, etc. Converse, especially the Chuck Taylor, is also very very popular here, and the classics from Vans as well.
How's it different from the sneaker scene in the rest of the world?
I think nowadays it’s pretty much the same as the rest of the world. We have the same types of sneakerheads — the purists, the fuccbois, the fashion people — and the market is very influenced by hip-hop and celebrities. Yes, we also have the YEEZY frenzy!
I think the biggest difference is with visible technology and the culture of ostentatiousness. For many years the market for sport shoes was dominated by flashy, expensive sneakers, no matter what history the models carry. Nike Shox, adidas Bounce and Springblade and the Mizuno Prophecy were, and kind of still are, very popular just because they were bold and expensive.
This is different now, which is great, and we are definitely seeing a new generation of kids who care more about sneakers and style — and not just about the price they've paid.
Where do Brazilian sneakerheads buy their kicks? Is it mainly from Brazilian stores, or do they have to ship them from abroad?
We do have a lot of nice stores, both online and offline, with premium accounts of brands like NikeLab, PUMA Select, adidas Originals and ASICS Tiger offering the best products. There’s places like Cartel 011, Guadalupe Store, Homegrown, Artwalk, VOID, Your ID, MAZE and Galeria do Rock (in Sao Paulo), just to name a few.
We have e-commerce for the major brands operating locally as well but, obviously, the most dedicated sneakerheads have their products shipped from abroad. Because of the crazy import duties we have to deal with, eBay is very popular here!
Does football play a big part in Brazilian sneaker culture?
Yes and no. Yes from a mainstream standpoint, because players like Neymar are very popular, and they wear shoes like Air Force 1s and Air Maxes. No from a sneakerhead standpoint, because they usually don't see footballers as a reference for style.
How is the streetwear scene in Brazil? What dope designers and brands do you think our readers should know about?
Streetwear is having a great moment here in Brasil. The scene is pretty fresh! Officially, we have the Sao Paulo Fashion Week twice a year, but that's more connected to the Brazilian traditional fashion brands, some of them globally known, like Osklen, Alexandre Herchcovitch, etc.
We also have some smaller alternative fashion weeks, like “Casa de Criadores,” where independent designers can show their works to the world, and we have a bunch of independent brands and shops popping up every day, which is very exciting.
Brands like High Company, Pyramid, League Goods, Cotton Project, CEMFREIO, Ruckz and PIET are more connected to streetwear, sneakers and the urban scene. They are new, promising and definitely more connected to the kids than the “old generation” or the big luxury brands.
We also have some other brands that try to translate trends to a more mainstream consumer, like Korova, which is almost a streetwear fast-fashion label and it's an undeniable success.
We now see a movement that bonds sneakers, fashion, music and art happening in Brasil right now and those brands — but not just them — are a very important part of this.
The country also has exciting fashion photographers and art directors that are documenting this momentum, like Hick Duarte, Fernando Schlaepfer and Gabriel Finotti. We also have some huge “digital influencers” — fashion bloggers with millions of followers that are recognized pretty much all over the world.
How is Brazilian street style? How do they like to dress? Does Brazil's weather and climate influence the way people dress?
It all depends on the city you’re in. Even inside the same city, people from different parts dress differently. Sao Paulo, for example, is more connected to global trends and urban movements. Rio de Janeiro is more influenced by the beach, and has a sort of Cali vibe with the way people dress. Porto Alegre down in the south has a hard winter, so people have to dress to face the cold days.
We can’t forget/ignore kids from the favelas, or the less rich parts of the cities. They are extremely creative and do their best to translate trends to their reality despite their economic issues. They have their own favorite brands and sneaker models and it's such a rich universe that we could do another interview just about them.
But personally I don’t like labels: the country is huge and each part has its own specifics. Of course the climate influences how people dress, but even climate can be completely different in different parts of the country here. Like any other part of the world, jeans, T-shirt and sneakers are the uniform for kids in the big cities. As the streetwear scene evolves, people get more connected to global brands, thanks to Internet.
Brasil used to have — and still has, in some ways — a strong culture of showing off. And that’s not only in sneakers and streetwear. People like to show how much their sneakers cost, usually by rocking performance models with visible technology, like Nike Shox, adidas Springblade and ASICS Noosa. It's like a status symbol for someone that wants to show to the world they "succeeded in life," no matter how rich they actually are.
For more global street culture insights, check out our report on Russia's sneakerhead scene.