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2 Apr

Farm Rio Lands in Italy, Plots European Expansion

MILAN — It was hard to miss Farm Rio’s takeover of Rinascente here on Wednesday. Flamboyant installations shaped as tropical flowers and fruits topped the department store’s eight arched windows overlooking the enduring Duomo cathedral, while the Brazilian brand’s signature printed dresses stood against colourful crochet backdrops and sculptural props.

Matching the mood-boosting set-up, inside an intensive temporary pop-up marked the brand’s launch within the Italian market, which builds on the international expansion plan the corporate set in motion in 2019.

Situated on Rinascente’s basement floor dedicated to design, the pop-up will run through May 1 and shall be flanked by similar outposts of various sizes in all the retailer’s nine units across Italy, including the 2 locations in Rome and people in Florence and Turin.

For the window and pop-up concept in Milan, the brand partnered with renowned Brazilian designer and architect Gringo Cardia and Instituto Proeza, a non-governmental organization and social project supporting women with initiatives that enable them to generate income in addition to providing psychological support. Greater than 200 women were involved and worked for 4 months to reinterpret the brand’s trademark prints through artisanal and crafty installations.

Objects encompassing vases, beaded accessories and arty fans manufactured by Brazilian artisans and native communities flanked the Farm Rio ready-to-wear and footwear collection displayed on the pop-up with the goal to further enhance the country’s craftsmanship and produce the “Carioca” vibrant spirit to Italy.

Farm Rio windows at Rinascente in Milan.

Courtesy of Farm Rio

Founded by Katia Barros and Marcello Bastos in 1997 as a small booth at indie fashion flea market Babilonia Feira Hype in Rio de Janeiro, the style brand has grown right into a household name in its native Brazil and gained ground abroad for its daring and feel-good prints splashed on tops, frocks, cardigans, jumpsuits, shorts and bomber jackets, amongst others.

“We expect that there’s an audience that has been underserved in all places, including in Italy…that’s in search of ways to precise themselves apart from the primary black, white and grey colours,” said Fabio Barreto, chief executive officer of the brand’s international operation branch Farm Rio Global, when asked why Farm Rio could resonate with Italian customers.

“And that’s a year-round thing, not only in summery styles but additionally in winter,” he added pointing to the ski collection the brand launched last 12 months, for one. “In order that slogan ‘Dress in Happiness’ is what the brand is all about: expressing yourself, being comfortable and assured….Each time we get in contact with our customers, we would like to bring that uplifting feeling. And we predict there’s a spot for that in all places, especially after the rough years we went through within the last three years,” Barreto said.

This approach and the brand’s flamboyant, Instagram-friendly designs helped Farm Rio to thrive also in the course of the pandemic, when the corporate accelerated its online growth in addition to international rollout.

The Farm Rio pop-up store at Rinascente in Milan.

The Farm Rio pop-up store at Rinascente in Milan.

Courtesy of Farm Rio

“We at all times has in mind that we have now audience outside of Brazil but we were very focused on the expansion there. Then in 2018 we decided we were ready for it,” said Barreto, recalling the moment the brand decided to set foot within the U.S. “There have been just a few things already happening over there,” he said, mentioning a successful tie-up with Adidas — began in 2014 as a one-off and now a everlasting collection — in addition to a partnership with Anthropologie.

As reported, the brand launched a U.S. e-commerce site in 2019, followed by the opening of its first U.S. brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan’s SoHo a month later. Summer pop-ups were next, in addition to two additional stores within the Aventura Mall in Miami and Venice in Los Angeles. One other unit on Melrose Avenue in L.A. is slated to open within the second half of 2023, in addition to shop-in-shop stores at Bloomingdale’s. The brand can also be available at shops resembling Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, to call just a few.

The expansion Stateside enabled the brand to unlock other overseas markets. “Three years later, we began getting attention from the retailers outside of the U.S. In 2021, we were invited by Le Bon Marché in Paris, and [thought] that was start line for our European expansion,” said Barreto, underscoring that the plan for the subsequent couple of years is to strengthen the presence in the style capitals within the Old Continent.

In Paris, the pop-up at Le Bon Marché was a concession store. One other one was unveiled at Printemps last week, while Barreto is plotting the opening of the primary flagship store within the French market by the tip of the 12 months.

The partnership with Rinascente in Milan and with Liberty in London builds on the identical strategy of leveraging the collaboration with key retailers to construct communities locally and enhancing wholesale distribution before ultimately opening directly operated locations in each city.

A Farm Rio window at Rinascente in Milan.

A Farm Rio window at Rinascente in Milan.

Courtesy of Farm Rio

Product-wise, to further merge with local cultures, the intention is to forge ties with local brands, as Barreto teased, referring to a collaboration with “a really well-known French brand [operating] in the life-style [category]” to be unveiled next month. The operation is about to mirror the partnership Farm Rio launched last 12 months with Starbucks, while an identical move for the Italian market has not been studied yet. “There are such a lot of classics in Italy,” said Barreto when asked a few dream collaboration. “Gucci could be nice. You never know…,” he added with a smile.

While the partnership with Adidas will proceed, prior to now Farm Rio also tied up with brands including Havaianas, JanSport and Lee jeans.

As for the primary Farm Rio line, Barreto underscored that the corporate looks “at international markets from scratch” from a design perspective.

“We’re in Brazil, in numerous seasonality, in order that creates a complete different environment to work with. Every part that we take to the U.S. and Europe is designed for these markets. We’ve a complete design team working for the international markets fascinated about the Northern Hemisphere, its lifestyle and seasonality,” he said.

A Farm Rio window at Rinascente in Milan.

A Farm Rio window at Rinascente in Milan.

Courtesy of Farm Rio

This aspect also impacts the product assortment available abroad, as Barreto noted that in Brazil the brand counts around 1,800 styles per collection, versus the roughly 400 styles available per collection within the international markets. “There are just a few different lines that we haven’t expanded outside of Brazil yet and that’s because we’re telling the story slowly, we don’t wish to throw all the pieces out directly since it’s hard to select up,” explained the manager, mentioning the boys’s and youngsters’ categories in addition to sportswear. Conversely, the brand is specializing in upping its fashion game in outerwear and knitwear for the international channels.

Overall, Farm Rio is offered at greater than 400 wholesale doors internationally, across the U.S. and Europe — where retailers include KaDeWe in Berlin, El Corte Inglés in Madrid and Jelmoli in Zurich — in addition to the Middle East, Australia and Hong Kong.

In 2022, the corporate’s international operation leg Farm Rio Global reached revenues of 490.9 million Brazilian reals, or greater than $95 million, soaring 80.7 percent in comparison with 2021.

Revenues generated by the Brazilian operation of the brand grew 32.5 percent to 1.2 billion Brazilian reals, or greater than $230 million, in 2022. The brand has around 90 directly operated brick-and-mortar stores within the country and is planning to open between 15 to twenty recent locations in 2023.

“It’s already the largest brand in Brazil, and it’s still growing 30 percent per 12 months,” marveled Barreto, stressing the further growth potential out there, because the 25-year-old label has greater than doubled its size within the last 4 years and surpassed 820,000 energetic customers.

“We’re in one of the best moment in Brazil and two weeks ago, we [gathered] in a house all of the team and leaders to think concerning the next 10 years on the brand: so rethinking the longer term while we’re in our greatest moment, knowing that it’ll pass if we don’t understand what’s happening and the way we’re going to bring newness to the market, because we at all times should be ahead,” Barreto said.

Farm Rio's takeover of the Rinascente windows in Milan.

Farm Rio’s takeover of the Rinascente windows in Milan.

Courtesy of Farm Rio

Asked about the largest lesson learned to this point, the manager cited the words of cofounder Bastos. “After I first joined Farm ten years ago he told me: ‘Fabio, whatever happens, the creative team has the ultimate say. The brand is our boss.’ Whatever is correct for the long-term and the creative team is considering is correct, we just follow it. And I think that’s why the brand has been successful for thus long,” the manager said.

Farm Rio is among the many jewels within the crown of parent company Grupo Soma, Brazil’s biggest fashion group. Listed on the São Paolo Stock Exchange, the group’s portfolio also includes Animale, Cris Barros, Foxton, Maria Filò and NV, amongst others labels. Last 12 months, Grupo Soma reported revenues of 5.6 billion Brazilian reals, or greater than $1 billion.

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