Passing Clean Cloths on the Dirty Floor – our ignorance contributes to the decadence of fashion

This week, the influencer and fashion entrepreneur Nati Voza, with more than one million followers and who has her own brand, posted on her Instagram statements referring to the confections of the Bom Retiro neighborhood in São Paulo, as synonyms of poor quality and obscure processes, ignoring all their importance for the national market and the entire history and work of the various families and employees that drive the Brazilian fashion market.

In the stories posted on her Instagram (already deleted) she compares an alleged copy of a brand jacket by a neighborhood brand, pointing out that they would be of low quality because it is from a clothing store there. The influencer’s speech reinforces stereotypes and prejudices without measuring the impact of the consequences of what she says to her millions of followers. The posts annoyed shopkeepers, wholesalers and other influencers who pointed out in their networks how prejudiced and uninformed Nati was. It is worth remembering that many of these same businesswomen had already hired the blogger to do vip presence in stores or post the pieces on her Instagram, as they thought it was a respectful voice and deserved their investments.

ABIV – Brazilian Association of the Garment Industry – which represents more than 1,500 tenants in the neighborhood (who generate more than 100 thousand direct jobs), sent a court note to the influencer’s advisory asking him to retract the video he committed. Tears flowed under the Instagram filter and Nati posted the required apologies.

A Brief History of “Bonra”

The Bom Retiro neighborhood, in the capital of São Paulo, is known for being the home of hundreds of factories, clothing and wholesale clothing brands. And its history begins with the founding of a spinning and weaving industry in 1884. In the 1920s, the majority of Jewish immigrants who came to Brazil settled in the neighborhood. Bom Retiro offered several attractions for being close to Estação da Luz and the city center and having cheaper land for being a workers’ stronghold. These immigrants were already traders in their homelands and, therefore, began to exercise their trades in the neighborhood. From the 30s to the 50s, Bom Retiro already housed several shops and factories, as well as residential buildings, thus establishing a Jewish colony along the lines of Eastern Europe.

The arrival of Korean immigrants took place in the early 1960s and, unlike the Jews who lived there, they went in order to work. Most of the newcomers had never worked with clothing, but since it was a job that had the possibility of employing an entire family, they started to practice the craft. Today 70% of the companies, about two thousand businesses in the neighborhood, belong to them according to the Bom Retiro guide.

The Retreat of Brazilian Fashion

In Bom Retiro, the vast majority of suppliers of clothing and fabrics are concentrated in the stores that occupy malls in the country, but few consumers know this. Partly due to a supposed loss of added value, as we still link the name of Bom Retiro to low quality and poor work done due to the business model of selling in volume, low price and with a focus on wholesale, including for reputable brands.

But why do we do that? Prejudice added to the lack of general interest in relation to popular clothing in the neighborhood and who makes our own clothes, contribute to judgments such as that made by Nati publicly and that of many people in the fashion market in offline conversations.

The responsibility for the speeches laden with prejudices and untruths on the part of people who pose themselves as influencers should serve as a point of reflection not only for other influencers but also consumers and professionals in the fashion market. It is necessary to review our prejudices within the industry as well, because that is exactly what prevents Brazilian fashion from being in fact democratic. This compromises fair competition, causes the devaluation and waste of talents and closes doors to the diversity of fashion in all its senses.

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