Many of the major foreign labels are here, many are expanding, and some of those not yet on the scene soon plan a presence.
São Paulo, South America's largest city, accounts for 70 to 75 percent of Brazil's fashion luxury market, while Rio de Janeiro accounts for 10 to 15 percent. Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany and Bulgari all have freestanding stores in São Paulo. Vuitton and Ferragamo have stores in Rio, too.
Those that don't have separate stores are represented as well, in ultrachic fashion emporiums like São Paulo's Daslu, situated in a 200,000-square-foot Florentine-style villa. Brands housed in corners there include Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Emilio Pucci, Chanel, Prada, Missoni, Valentino, Balenciaga, Fendi, Chloé, Jimmy Choo and Ermenegildo Zegna.
One of the biggest signs that Brazil's luxury market is healthy and growing is an $830 million luxury complex, the Parque Cidade Jardim. The project will include nine residential buildings, four commercial towers and a mall when it's completed in 2010 in São Paulo.
The Shopping Cidade Jardim, or SCJ, the largest multibrand luxury center in South America, slated to open in late March, is its centerpiece. SCJ will be a $150 million, 322,000-square-foot emporium, whose 120 shops will encircle a long, central garden. Modeled after Miami's upscale Bal Harbour Shops mall, SCJ will host a mix of high-end local and foreign brands.
Among labels planning stores at SCJ are Armani, Ferragamo, Vuitton, Zegna, La Perla, Furla, Longchamp and French luxe children's brand Bonpoint, the last three being newcomers to the Brazilian market. Tiffany, Cartier, Rolex and Montblanc will also have units there.
"SCJ is attracting major foreign brands because many, if not most, prefer to position themselves in luxury malls, not smaller multibrand stores, which [sometimes] give them little space, or their own freestanding stores, which require big investments," said Sharon Beting, director of SCJ. "And we're located in an upmarket neighborhood of São Paulo with no luxury malls nearby."