Democratizing Fashion: Riachuelo opens Bold

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Three days of opening-parties. One bold decision. An amazing achievement for the Brazilian retail stage.

Fashion and retail are not about brands, but about customers and shoppers. An example of success and an employment of vision in retail design, Riachuelo’s latest store open, at Oscar Freire luxury street in São Paulo, is a leading venture in the movement to democratize fashion. A brand described by ingenuity, since its founding in 1947, Riachuelo is a pioneer in the selling of prêt-à-porter clothing, a forward thinker for fast fashion.

 We could not miss such big feat in the Brazilian market. MiND has been welcomed to ask a few questions to the CEO of the Riachuelo brand, Mr. Flávio Rocha. To complete the picture of the store’s opening, the architect behind the store concept, Manoel Alves Lima (FAL) shares his take on the retail space.


Mr. Rocha, you are an entrepreneur, a leader and a forecaster; when did the leap into the new direction of global fashion market come up for Riachuelo? 

FLAVIO ROCHA: Since 1993, our focus has been the fashion sector. In the case of Riachuelo, industry is of paramount importance: it was through the integration of industry and retail that we built our winning model. These days, the synergy of the integrated model offers two things: speed and low costs.

Riachuelo Oscar Freire | FAL and ALU fixtures

I am a fan of family business; they are the companies that survive, because they look to and care about future generations, creating a long-term horizon. We are preparing to take a big leap in the coming years – our goal is to have 330 stores in Brazil by 2016. We are opening stores for the next generation, not for the next financial quarter.


Why is Riachuelo the only one truly representing the new wave of democratizing fashion,  a dictionary which translates the catwalk into ready-to-wear fashion?

FLAVIO ROCHA: We are the best example of fast fashion in the world, because we are more integrated than any other company on the planet. We are present at the start of the textile chain right through to the financing of the garments we produce. We achieved this when our factories started talking to our stores, engaging in a dialogue without miscommunication, a strategy that extended from our brand collaborations with top personalities to the daily dynamics that make sure the clothes and accessories on the racks in our stores stay current.

Riachuelo Oscar Freire | FAL and ALU fixtures

We are open 24 hours a day in the major fashion centers of Europe and the United States. We research, develop, manufacture and distribute fashion throughout Brazil. The whole process is performed quickly with huge commitment from all our employees and partners. Our mission is to democratize fashion, to pick the best that fashion has to offer and to sell it at prices that are in line with the cultural and financial reality of Brazil.

“Our mission is to democratize fashion”

Fashion designers shake hands with you to create as they do for the big stage, yet they lower the prices under your brand. How did the industry take this innovative kick?

FLAVIO ROCHA: It is a practice which we take great pride in, and which today has become an international practice. We were the first in the world to realize this type of partnership. In 1980, we teamed up with the great São Paulo designer Nei Galvão. Soon after, we began routinely collaborating with other designers and celebrities.


How do you manage the unfair fight with the cheaper “made in China” influences in the market?

FLAVIO ROCHA: Our integrated chain is our greatest asset. Speed is crucial in fashion but it can take months for Chinese products to accommodate the latest styles. Chinese competitiveness is, however, undeniable in the textile industry; we have an office in Shanghai, but it only imports the basic products; it doesn’t compromise our mission to offer up-to-the-minute fashion.

Riachuelo Oscar Freire | FAL

It was a brave decision to open the latest store on the second most luxurious street in the Americas, a low-cost fashion store. Three days of opening-party and the looks over the shoulder of the entire industry; why this decision?

FLAVIO ROCHA: The store opening on São Paulo’s Rua Oscar Freire, one of the most exclusive shopping streets in the world, represents a rapprochement between luxury and fast fashion, reflecting an evolution in the perception of Brazilian consumers. High prices exclude consumers with less purchasing power, whereas low prices exclude no one.

The Riachuelo Oscar Freire store was a great exercise in creativity because the existing building was originally designed as a gift and homeware shop!
We put our trust in the office of architect Manoel Alves Lima (FAL) to carry out the necessary renovations and modifications to the interior to give the store a more current look.
The renovations and modifications began with the implementation of ALU’s retail merchandising systems, both on the walls and on the floor. The latest-generation systems offered superior and innovative display solutions for the Riachuelo collection, helping to create a more modern and elegant store environment.
In short, ALU systems were in a different class; they communicated a youthful, modern and dynamic vibe to our clientèle, aiding us in our goal of democratizing fashion.

Riachuelo Oscar Freire | FAL and ALU fixtures

You’re brand is as active as you are; after taking part in the NY Marathon twice, you’re business still comes after the daily training. What distance is Riachuelo ready to “run” for the upcoming future?

FLAVIO ROCHA: We are embarking on the ’70 years in 4′ project, reminiscent of the ’50 years in 5′ campaign slogan of Brazilian president, Juscelino Kubitschek. In these four years – 2013 to 2016 – we will open more stores than in the entire history of the company.

RIACHUELO: an architectural projection by MANOEL LIMA (FAL)


MANOEL LIMA: I believe that, due to it’s market size and cultural and geographical peculiarities, Brazil is one of the few countries in the world where you will be able to see strong local players competing to international brands. That grants an additional interest to our retail centers, that are at the same time unique and global.


MANOEL LIMA: Low-cost fashion will be the best bet for the future, more so in Brazil. We are a young, active, luminous, close to the nature, colorful, urban society, eager to show our bodies and our fashion sense. We don’t have much money and are not attached to trends. The Riachuelo store  tried to materialize who we are and what we like right now. We do not envision it as having a long life span.

We tried to be bold, by creating an environment that would impact our customer, exceed their expectation and to bring to them a new perspective about the brand.

Riachuelo Oscar Freire | FAL and ALU fixtures


MANOEL LIMA: By creating different moods throughout the store, representing the different moments of the life of our customer. We played with finishings, texture, colour and levels to entice the visitor to walk around and to create a space that is fun and interesting to explore.

We needed a store that would be easy to shop, where the fixtures would have to be functional and flexible, but beautiful at the same time. Something like that helps both the store team and it’s clients.

Oscar Freire’s being the most prestigious retail destination in São Paulo made this store unique. Right after the end of the opening we started to do some sketches about the next store, which will have to be more like the average one in the chain, with a lower investment, but keeping the same quality.