Brazil makes impression on U.S.

Marvin Lazaro, April 16, 2001

NEW YORK — With a variety of products that it feels compares favorably with Europe and Asia, Brazil joined the wide array of countries that were showcasing their wares at spring market.

"We're here because we believe people love Brazilian things," said Maria Amelia Aranha, GMCA Trading Ltd., based in Westchester, NY. Personnel from GMCA Trading as well as Worldwide Imports Inc., Carpex Empreendimentos and L.C.T. Trading Co. were acting as collective representatives for the contingent.

From baby clothes and linens to dishes to women's clothing and handbags to lamps, candles and decorative tabletop items, to, of course, home textiles, the Brazilian contingent had it all on display at their pavilion.

According to Ignez Barreto, trade events officer, Brazilian Government Trade Bureau (BGTB), due to Brazil's rapidly growing economy, it was time for that country to begin exporting its products to the U.S. and abroad. The Trade Bureau is a department of the Consulate General of Brazil.

"We're here to set up our products with American companies and begin exporting as much as possible to here," said Marlene Soule, trade events officer, BGTB, summing up the mission of the Brazilian contingent. "The United States and Europe are the big markets, and we need to export goods here as much as possible.

"For us, this is the market," she continued, adding that the BGTB only participates in the spring market.

Soule said more than a dozen companies from Pernambuco, Bahia, Alagoas, Maranhao, Sao Paulo, Santos, Rio de Janeiro and Mina Gerais were brought by the Trade Bureau to the show.

What may set Brazilian companies apart from their Japanese and European counterparts, Barreto said, was that fact that although the quality was comparable, the designs were unique to Brazilian designers and their prices were generally lower, possibly by as much as 20 to 30 percent, a big factor considering the current state of the U.S. economy. The competition, despite the price differences, remains stiff and the U.S. home textiles market a difficult one to get a toehold in.

"You could walk around the rest of the show and not find this kind of embroidery," Barreto said about the unique vagonite embroidery found on the hem of the flat sheet manufactured by the SoftLight company of Rio de Janeiro. "We have a great tradition and products when it comes to home textiles."

A 100 percent cotton twin sheet set featuring the detailed hand-made embellishment carried a wholesale price point of $132, while a duvet cover was $82, also wholesale.

Although the traffic at the show was slower than Barreto and Soule had hoped, both said that many contacts had been made with various companies which had shown interest.

Ironically, although the BGTB was at the show mainly to promote those companies which make home textiles, Barreto said much of the interest generated came as a result of the baby and infant clothing.

"Our goal is to promote [the home textiles] line. But everyone has been looking at that," she said, gesturing toward the baby items. "I don't understand it. Isn't this a home textiles show?"

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