Favela Fashion Overcoming Business Challenges

by FELICITY CLARKEon Forbes  Megacities

Rio’s favelas pulse with creativity, from rough-edged baile funk rhythms to seemingly impossible housing structures to inventive ways people earn a living. However, harnessing creative ideas and establishing a successful business is an extremely tough challenge for budding entrepreneurs without financial backing and business know-how.

right to left, Luciana Almeida, Silvinha Oliveira, Nadja Araujo & Luciana Meireles from the favela fashion label Retalhos Cariocas

Silvinha Oliveira, resident of the Barreira do Vasco favela, always dreamed of having her own fashion business. She first had the idea for her Retalhos Cariocas label’s signature Havaianas sandals which combine a feisty gladiator shape with vibrant tropical colors and patchwork finishing when she was running free dressmaking and craft courses for women in the favela.

However turning her ideas into a business has been a challenge for Silvinha and her partners Luciana Meireles, Nadja Araujo, Luciana Almeida and Fátima Souza, who between them do everything from production to marketing and administration.

“I believe Retalhos have arrived today because of perseverance, trying until it happens,” says Silvinha. “I graduated in 2003, so that’s nine years believing in a business that operates with good values, even though we don’t have money.”

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Rethinking Industry Dynamics: What’s your Velocity Regime?

I have often thought that the emphasis on speed and “now-ness” that the digital world encourages is not reflected in many industries actual experience of business -i.e. their customers are living in many non-synchronized time scales – such as that of their nostalgia -yearning for times when things were made “better” e.g. appliances that could be repaired vs tossed for new ones, and returning to their youth e.g. sales of 60’s rock stars, contrasted with the consumers societies drive for the latest gadgets and cars etc. How slowly we actually adopt new ideas- such as reduced consumption, change eating habits or adopt new washing powder. There is a disconnect here that this post from It Depends – Ian McCarthy’s Blog and diagram make explicit:

“Competitive advantages are temporary, especially in fast changing industries. A cover of Business Week magazine asks “Is Your Company Fast Enough?”, and there are scores of popular business books and magazines with titles such as “Fast Company”, “Business @ the Speed of Thought”, and “The Age of Speed”. Such publications suggest that in fast moving industry environments, speed, and in particular being fast, is an important factor in the creation and erosion of competitive advantage.

In an article entitled “A Multidimensional Conceptualization of Environmental Velocity”, that I authored with colleagues Thomas Lawrence, Brian Wixted, and Brian Gordon, we present a framework that dispels this notion that speed always leads to business success.”

Figure 1: Conflicted Velocity Regime for the Fashion Apparel Industry

When faced with such a velocity regime, it is misguided to focus on designing and managing a business that is uniformly fast. What’s important is determining your “velocity regime” – the multiple different rates and directions of change in your world – and then ensuring that different business activities are organized and coordinated to effectively respond to these different velocities.

For a detailed description of Figure 1, and the concept of the velocity regimes, please go to the full article. We provide illustrative industry examples and measures for determining your velocity regimes.

Adapted from: McCarthy, I.P., Lawrence, T.B., Wixted, B., and Gordon, B. 2010. A Multidimensional conceptualization of environmental velocity. Academy of Management Review, 35(4), 604-626.

Racial fireworks in Politics and Business: John Galliano & Dior – Trevor Manuel & Jimmy Manyi

This week has seen the reemergence of of globalization’s ugly hidden face: Racial tensions, conflicts and resentment both locally in South African politics and internationally in business: Can anyone be surprised when the legacy of global imperialism surfaces in diverse forms:  be it the centuries old colonial “coloured” or “creole” or the millennia old anti-semitic forms? History seems intent on not allowing these urban dragons or gremlins to lie sleeping!

In Paris John Galliano is fired for anti semitic remarks captured and aired on a You-Tube video which prompted first his suspension as Dior’s lead designer and then firing after their perfume celebrity and Oscar award winning actress, Natalie Portman, herself  of Jewish decent descried the star fashion designers actions:

In South Africa  Cabinet Minister , ex Minister of FInance and  veteran of the apartheid struggle,  Trevor Manual, causes a furor  with an open letter published in the Cape Times newspaper on Wednesday, accusing the ruling ANC parties spokesman Jimmy Manyi of being a racist: The original letter can be read here on SkyscraperCity:

What deep tensions and bitter feuds are buried in the bricks and mortar of our cities?

If we dig deep down in the layers of programming that has been laid down by our ancestors prejudice will we maybe not all find some wound of this thorn in our flesh – then will we think is it best to remain silent or since the first stone been cast….?

I think it is right to lance these festering boils and bring them out into the open!

What do you think?


Donovan Gillman


Rise of the Bloggers – Death of the Celebrity Endorsement?

Protein Feed reporting on statistics gleaned from London Fashion Week seem to indicate that celeb endorsements are in decline – my own take is this might be true in the world of on-line/cyber – but in the “real” world of TV/Billboards and Print Celeb’s are King or Queen- I can vouch for this with the number of hits drawn by posts about U2 and Bono when I was really commenting on the urban issues of the Fan Walk and the influence of celebrities (even misquoted ones) in the media!

Still the graphic is interesting and the concept of trends are generated by street and bloggers is interesting for the future with growing penetration of social media to handhelds even more influence is on  its way!

“With London Fashion Week almost over, what better way to round up the week than some good ol’ data talk and a nice visualization. We had a look into how new fashion trends are discovered and made some intriguing and perhaps surprising finds.

Blogs came out on top with 53% of our audience citing them as influencing their wardrobes, and street style second with 39%. Interestingly celebrity style was the least mentioned with only 8% of those asked saying they were a source for inspiration. With this research the idea that a celebrity endorsement can influence a trend seems to be thrown into some dispute. It will be interesting to see how this pattern of the inspiring blogger changes in the next year.”

Our first Protein Audience Survey is at the printers now getting prepped for the press. If you are interested in learning more click here and we will get in touch with more info.”

Image by Sarah Khamisi.

Design Indaba 2011 – Cape Town – Sold Out

The coolest design event in South AfricaDesign Indaba 2011 takes place at the at the Cape Town Convention Centre and includes the Design Indaba Conference and Young Designers Simulcast from 23 to 25 February, and Design Indaba Expo from 25 to 27 February.

But there are still seats available for simulcast in Cape Town and Johannesburgt and the really cool expo you can visit from 25 -27 February and  lank events and interesting side shows, some of which I will be posting info over the next few days as well as featuring some of the cool people that are speaking

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Iconic Blogger Scott Schuman, aka, The Sartorialist

My son Jason in London sent me this link to a great video -one of my favorite influential trend-spotters: The video really talks about the opportunities in globalization – good and bad.

Sorry the video is too big to post here so get it here

Sorry the video is too big to post here so get it here The Cool Hunter

If you have never seen Scott’s work click here : The Sartorialist