In the midst of cut-throat textile market with China dictating prices and dominating trade, Santana Textile of Brazil is getting prepared for an evolution in fashion that will put Brazilian denim on the top of the world textile market. Christopher Van Buren unravels the story.
BLUE JEANS HAVE BEEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF fashion for quite some time. What you may not realize is that Brazil is quickly becoming one of the world’s leading producers of denim. Already, Brazilian cotton has gained itself a reputation as one of the world’s highest quality cottons, and Santana Textile of Brazil is preparing itself for a Brazilian fashion renaissance – a trend that will put denim at the forefront. The passion and determination of the Delfino’s family made Santana Textile of Brazil part of Brazilian textile success since 1963. Intimately linked to developments in Brazilian fashion, Santana Textile has consistently brought innovative materials to the market. By 1998, Santana was already one of the largest suppliers of denim to Brazil. Today, Delfino
Neto (grandson of the founder), president of Santana Textile, moves the company forward with the same passion and business acumen that has brought the company to its current position in the market. “Today we are the biggest supplier of denim to the Brazilian market, but we are the second biggest producer in Brazil,” begins Delfino. “Some denim fabric producers export more but sell less in Brazil. The country consumes about 30 million meters of denim per month. There are many characteristics, more than 100 fabrics to attend different style demand.”
MADE IN BRAZIL
“We are not expecting a lot of growth in exports,” begins Delfino with some frustration. Clearly, he would like to bring his product to the global market. But the complications of international trade are not in his favor. “We are halted by the heavy Brazilian taxes. Our products, at times, become less competitive especially because of this tax load.” Delfino’s plans for becoming a global supplier are also dependent on his country’s efforts to globalize its markets. “It’s difficult to develop a plan for exporting since Brazil has trade agreements with almost nobody outside of Mercosul. We have no commercial pacts with Europe or NAFTA only with Mercosul.”
The company recently built a factory in Argentina, in the town of Reistencia, to gain global market share. “This is the beginning of our plan. The factory will supply product faster, with good prices and will help to increase our Argentina market share.”
It’s difficult to imagine a non-European country influencing the world of fashion, but some specialists believe that Brazil’s influence will grow, along with its production of textiles and clothing. Delfino believes an evolution in fashion is in store, with a focus on “entertainment, illumination, and seduction,” qualities that Brazilian fashion has captured for years. “I believe in the jeans industry. It will pass through an adjustment in demand in the next few years. Demand will drop a little because of other elements in the economy and that will change the prices. But in our style of jeans, we’ll have characteristics that will capture the imaginations of big brands like Diesel with masculine-looking fabrics that are also comfortable and able to stretch. This may change the market.”
Delfino anticipates that this change will benefit Brazilian exports. “China is pushing millions of meters of fabric onto the market. Fashion has to find new styles and forms quickly. I believe this will happen here in Brazil.” He notes that updated cell phones and notebook computers no longer symbolize prestige. Instead, people will return to clothing. Already Brazilian styles are finding their way into Europe and North America. “People understand fashion differently because of the Internet. Customers are educated in style and fashion. This new consumer will start a revolution in fashion and will understand how his image is changed through style. We’ll be able to capitalize on this with our products.” Delfino’s passion for fashion is the key to his company’s successful partnerships with Brazil’s finest brands. His products support the wide variety of applications and price points.
“From the six million meters we produce per month, about five million are for the ‘popular’ market,” explains Delfino, “and one million for the premium market. That’s 80 percent for the popular markets. It’s the Brazilian economy that dictates this scenario and most of our fabric is supplied to Brazil. The premium line is more for the big brands. For the client to purchase a more differentiated product, he first needs to understand the attributes of the premium fabrics, then explore all kinds of possibilities with a jeans designer, and finally focus its marketing on consumers that follow fashion’s newest trends.”
The companies that make clothes understand these quality issues. They say, ‘I need ideas and something revolutionary.’ We provide this in our premium line.” Delfino adds that he often produces products specifically for certain clients and even offers exclusivity to some clients. Besides the big Brazilian labels, Santana sells substantial amounts of its denim to yardage outlets, which serve Brazil’s many small, regional brands. The rise of many regional fashion tradeshows in Brazil, including Sao Paulo’s Fashion Week, now an international event, indicates a greater participation in the world of clothing and fashion. Will Europe’s designer jeans market be worn-out at the knees? If so, Santana Textil do Brasil and its partners in fashion will be ready with fabrics and styles made distinctively in Brazil.