Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Style file: Retalhos Cariocas

The favela-based fashion designers with plenty of tricks up their sleeves

Rio style is a tricky one to master. The city’s shameless exuberance demands a lively look but the hot hot heat severely limits the palette of clothing items at one’s disposal. While the cooler climes of New York, Milan and even São Paulo allow for complex layers and a cacophony of accessories, summer in Rio means as little of all this as possible, which can be somewhat oppressive for those wishing to shine via style rather than sweat.

Thankfully, the brand new clothing collection by favela fashion label Retalhos Cariocas provides some solutions with a line full of light vibrant pieces that perfectly encapsulate the contemporary Carioca spirit.

Working out of their atelié (workshop) in the Resident’s Association building in São Cristóvão’s Barreira do Vasco favela, Retalhos Cariocas’ designer Silvinha Oliveira, her mother Fátima Souza, Luciana Meirelles, Nadja Araujo and Luciana Almeida have been producing bags, accessories and their signature gladiator sandals from donated textile scraps and recycled materials to wide acclaim since 2008. Now they are launching a full clothing line for the first time. “It’s always been my dream to make clothes, and now we’ve reached a point we’ve always wanted to reach,” says Silvinha.

The Retalhos look is quintessentially Carioca in a refreshing, uniquely buoyant way. Skirts and dresses with simple feminine shapes leap out with multicolour mash up prints. Cheeky detailing defines the jersey vest dresses perfect for popping over a bikini. Mini skirts and shorts in bold, big-dot small-dot pattern fabrics are versatile statement pieces for beach and evening looks alike.

The collection is created with the Rio lifestyle in mind. As Luciana Meireles explains “It’s about Carioca style, which has a lot to do with the environment we live in – there are a lot of beaches, it’s very hot, there are a lot of trendy places you can go without having to be totally dressed up with lots of shine and high heels. [Our clothes] are cool in that they’re comfortable and light but in styles you use to go out during the day or at night. “

With prices ranging from R$10 for bracelets and accessories to R$60 for dresses, they are also remarkable value for money, even more so when you consider these are often limited edition pieces by a label that prides itself on social and environmental sustainability, providing dressmaking courses in the community and recycling donated materials.

Currently the items are available to buy via their online shop (retalhoscariocas.com.br), a network of independent sales representatives which include a rep in New York and at the weekly Friday evening fashion market in the Barreira do Vasco square. Recommended though is a visit to the studio which buzzes with the girls’ feisty positivity and friendly welcome.

Words by Felicity Clarke
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